Tuesday, March 24, 2020


Patrick Collison (Hacker News):

Dee Hock was given 90 days to launch the BankAmericard card (which became the Visa card), starting from scratch.


Walt Disney’s conception of “The Happiest Place on Earth” was brought to life in 366 days.


Brendan Eich implemented the first prototype for JavaScript in 10 days, in May 1995. It shipped in beta in September of that year.


Work on the Xerox Alto, the first GUI-oriented computer, started in November 1972 because of a bet: “Chuck said that a futuristic computer could be done ‘in three months’ and a Xerox exec bet him a case of wine that it couldn’t be done”.


Tony Fadell was hired to create the iPod in late January 2001 […] and shipped the first production iPod to customers in November 2001, around 290 days after getting started.


Linus Torvalds started working on Git on April 3 2005. It was self-hosting 4 days later. On April 20 2005, 17 days after work commenced, Linux 2.6.12-rc3 was publicly released with Git.

But modern physical infrastructure projects take longer.


Update (2020-03-27): Patrick Collison:

I asked Tony Fadell about the iPod timeline for my fast project page. Summary: 😯.

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

Lukas Mathis

I'm not sure if the software products in this list are really great illustrations of this idea. Sure, it's trivially easy to get something running that looks impressive, and kinda works. That's part of the reason why it's so difficult to estimate software development. Getting something impressive up is 1% of the work. Getting it to be usable, sustainable, scaleable, and so on, that's the other 99% of the work.

Eich got JS running in 10 days. Then, it took another 10 years to fix all of the problems it had.

It's always easier to start from scratch. If there is existing code to modify and a huge feature set necessary for backward compatibility, any project is much more of a challenge than one with no existing code and no existing user base.

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