During the initial tour of Jurassic Park in a scene in the command center John Hammond and Dennis Nedry have the following exchange:

Hammond: Dennis, our lives are in your hands and you have butter fingers?

Nedry: I'm totally unappreciated in my time. You can run this whole park from this room with minimal staff for up to three days. You think that kind of automation is easy... or cheap? You know anybody who can network eight eight connection machines and two million lines of code for what I bid for this job? Cause if you can I'd love to see them try.

Hammond: I'm sorry about your financial problems Dennis, I really am, but they are your problems.

Nedry: Oh you're right John, you're absolutely right, everything is my problem.

Hammond: I will not get drawn into another financial debate with you Dennis, I really will not.

Nedry: Been hardly any debate at all.

Hammond: I don't blame people for their mistakes, but I do ask that they pay for them.

So it sounds like Dennis is a contractor who put a lump sum bid (or perhaps very low hourly rates) in to get the work at the park... but why would John "Spared No Expense" Hammond just go for the low bidder? Why not negotiate with Nedry to make sure he is well compensated so that he is not disgruntled? Or was it perhaps something to do with this mistake that must be paid for?

(I forget if Nedry took the job to steal the embryos before or after his being hired by the park, or if he took that offer because he was unhappy with Hammond, but that might help explain things...)

  • 7
    In the book, Nedry did lowball the bid and had his own financial issues, but Hammond's company was pretty clearly just as much to blame, asking him to spec and code for very very vague items (to keep their secrecy), and then blaming him and threatening to sue once it didn't work as expected. Both contributed to Nedry's behavior.
    – Radhil
    Jul 8, 2018 at 1:34
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    There is no reason to assume that Nedry wasn't paid well, all we know is that he had financial issues and wanted more money. Just because you are computer genius doesn't mean that you are good with finances, or maybe he just really wanted a Ferrari.
    – n_b
    Jul 8, 2018 at 2:02

1 Answer 1


In the source novel, we learn that Nedry is grumpy because his team was (he feels) intentionally misled by Hammond. Although he's been well compensated for his work, he's had to put in extra work and (probably) miss out on other deals because the spec keeps changing and because the park has been plagued with problems from the beginning.

“And the secret to making money in a park,” Hammond said, “is to limit your Personnel costs. The food handlers, ticket takers, cleanup crews, repair teams. To make a park that runs with minimal staff. That was why we invested in all the computer technology-we automated wherever we could.”
    “I remember. . . .”
    “But the plain fact is,” Hammond said, when you put together all the animals and all the computer systems, you run into snags. Who ever got a major computer system up and running on schedule? Nobody I know."

Nedry bid blind on the project, without realising that this wasn't your ordinary zoo or the sheer level of automation that was required.

Dennis Nedry yawned. He'd long ago concluded that InGen must be doing something like this. A couple of years earlier, when InGen had hired Nedry to design the park control systems, one of the initial design parameters called for data records with 3 X 10^9 fields. Nedry just assumed that was a mistake, and had called Palo Alto to verify it. But they had told him the Spec was correct. Three billion fields.


And he had gone back and designed the control systems. It had taken him and his programming team more than a year, and it was especially difficult because the company wouldn't ever tell him what the subsystems were for. The instructions were simply “Design a module for record keeping” or “Design a module for visual display.” They gave him design parameters, but no details about use. He had been working in the dark. And now that the system was up and running, he wasn't surprised to learn there were bugs. What did they expect? And they'd ordered him down here in a panic, all hot and bothered about “his” bugs. It was annoying, Nedry thought.

Note that Nedry isn't in financial difficulty (per se) but is in fact greedy and arrogant. Dodgson is offering him life-changing sums of money as a lump sum.

Nedry'd worked on it carefully, refining every detail. This plan was going to make him a million and a half dollars, one point five meg. That was ten years of income in a single tax-free shot, and it was going to change his life. Nedry'd been damned careful, even to the point of making Dodgson meet him in the San Francisco airport at the last minute with an excuse about wanting to see the money, Actually, Nedry wanted to record his conversation with Dodgson, and mention him by name on the tape. Just so that Dodgson wouldn't forget he owed the rest of the money, Nedry was including a copy of the tape with the embryos. In short, Nedry had thought of everything.

  • Nedry apparently makes a pitiful $150,000 a year. No wonder he's disgruntled! Jul 8, 2018 at 14:07
  • @zabeus - Given the rate of inflation, that would be around $450K in today's money from the time of writing.
    – Valorum
    Jul 8, 2018 at 14:24
  • @Valorum So is the mistake Hammond is referring to, the mistake of bidding the job too low, or the bugs in his code? Or should I ask another question? (I'm just curious, nothing wrong this answer of course.)
    – Skooba
    Jul 9, 2018 at 11:47
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    @Skooba - Hammond blames Nedry for the bugs. Nedry feels this is unfair since he was working blindfolded for most of the project and because Hammond is unwilling to pay Nedry extra fees for completing the project.
    – Valorum
    Jul 9, 2018 at 11:51
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    @MikeHarris - Chrichton started writing the book in the 1980s. You're right though that it wasn't published until later.
    – Valorum
    Jul 9, 2018 at 15:33

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