Optimizing C++ - the WWW version

ISBN: 0-13-977430-0

Copyright 1999 by Prentice-Hall PTR

Copyright 2000 by Chrysalis Software Corporation

Return to the table of contents

Return to my main page

About the Author

Steve Heller had always been fascinated by writing. In his childhood days in the 1950s and 1960s, he often stayed up far past his bedtime reading science fiction. Even in adulthood, if you came across him in his off-hours, he was more likely to be found reading a book than doing virtually anything else.

After college, Steve got into programming more or less by accident; he was working at an actuarial consulting firm and was selected to take charge of programming on their time-sharing terminal, because he was making much less than most of the other employees. Finding the programming itself to be more interesting than the actuarial calculations, he decided to become a professional programmer.

Until 1984, Steve remained on the consuming side of the writing craft. Then one day he was reading a magazine article on some programming-related topic and said to himself, "I could do better than that". With encouragement from his wife of the time, he decided to try his hand at technical writing. Steve's first article submission -- to the late lamented Computer Language Magazine -- was published, as were a dozen more over the next ten years.

But although writing magazine articles is an interesting pastime, writing a book is something entirely different. Steve got his chance at this new level of commitment when Harry Helms, then an editor for Academic Press, read one of his articles in Dr. Dobb's Journal and wrote him a letter asking whether he would be interested in writing a book for AP. He answered, "Sure, why not?", not having the faintest idea of how much work he was letting himself in for.

The resulting book, Large Problems, Small Machines received favorable reviews for its careful explanation of a number of facets of program optimization, and sold a total of about 20,000 copies within a year after publication of the second edition, entitled Efficient C/C++ Programming.

By that time, Steve was hard at work on his next book, Who's Afraid of C++, which is designed to make object-oriented programming intelligible to anyone from the sheerest novice to the programmer with years of experience in languages other than C++. To make sure that his exposition was clear enough for the novice, he posted a message on CompuServe requesting the help of someone new to programming. The responses included one from a woman named Susan, who ended up contributing a great deal to the book; in fact, about 100 pages of the book consist of email between Steve and Susan. Her contribution was wonderful, but not completely unexpected.

What was unexpected was that Steve and Susan would fall in love during the course of this project, but that's what happened. Since she lived in Texas and he lived in New York, this posed some logistic difficulties. The success of his previous book now became extremely important, as it was the key to Steve's becoming a full-time writer. Writers have been "telecommuting" since before the invention of the telephone, so his conversion from "programmer who writes" to "writer" made it possible for him to relocate to her area, which he promptly did.

Since his move to Texas, Steve has been hard at work on his writing projects, including Introduction to C++, a classroom text that covers more material in the same space as Who's Afraid of C++? at the expense of the email exchanges in the latter book, followed by Who's Afraid of Java?. Their latest project is Who's Afraid of More C++?, which came out in 1998.

Steve and Susan were married in 1997.

Comment on this book!

Return to the table of contents

Return to my main page