Computer programming quotes

"I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse."    — Emperor Charles V (1500—1558)
Mmmmh... What about C, C++, Fortran, Ada and Java ?

The following are humorous (and sometimes serious too) quotes gathered from the Web, Usenet's personal .sig and other sources. Since it's all a big rip-off, I am assuming no copyright whatsoever. I don't even guarantee that they are accurate. Now that you've been warned, enjoy.

On this page:

Programming Languages

"Profanity is the one language all programmers know best."
"When someone says: 'I want a programming language in which I need only say what I wish done', give him a lollipop."    — Buy at Amazon.comAlan J. Perlis.
"A programming language is low level when its programs require attention to the irrelevant."    — Buy at Amazon.comAlan J. Perlis.
"I have the ability to arrange 1's and 0's in such an order that an x86 processor can actually interpret and execute those commands. It's called Computer Programming, but it's the closest that a man can ever get to giving birth in my opinion. And I somehow feel responsible for the future existence and acceptance of my "child". I'd spend hours trying to find the tiny bug that causes my child to misbehave or act strangely. But that's my mild superpower... I make the world a better place by writing mindless back-end programs that no-one will ever see nor even know that it's there. But I know; and that's all that matters."    — Alucard.
"I'm taking a break from programming and trying to escape the world of geekness and then WinAmp brings up 'Norah Jones — Pointer Song' GODAMN IT LEAVE ME ALONE."    — billy_s.
"Typing is no substitute for thinking."    — Dartmouth Basic manual, 1964.
"It should be noted that no ethically-trained software engineer would ever consent to write a DestroyBaghdad procedure. Basic professional ethics would instead require him to write a DestroyCity procedure, to which Baghdad could be given as a parameter.    — Nathaniel Borenstein.
"Two languages implementing the same idea must, on pain of death, use different terms."    — Feldman's Law of Programming Terminology.

C & Unix

"It's 5.50 a.m.... Do you know where your stack pointer is ?"
C /n./: A programming language that is sort of like Pascal except more like assembly except that it isn't very much like either one, or anything else. It is either the best language available to the art today, or it isn't.
   — Ray Simard.
"If it wasn't for C, we'd be writing programs in BASI, PASAL, and OBOL."
"I have yet to meet a C compiler that is more friendly and easier to use than eating soup with a knife."
"In My Egotistical Opinion, most people's C programs should be indented six feet downward and covered with dirt."    — Blair P. Houghton.
"Going from programming in Pascal to programming in C, is like learning to write in Morse code."    — J.P. Candusso.
"Trying to outsmart a compiler defeats much of the purpose of using one."    — Kernighan & Plauger, The Buy at Amazon.comElements of Programming Style.
"#define QUESTION ((bb) || !(bb))"    — Shakespeare
"C is not a high-level language."    — Kernighan.
"Any C programmer here ? Yeah i got a C in programming class. That counts ?"
"In C expressions, you can assume that *, /, and % come before + and -. Put parentheses around everything else."    — Steve Oualline, C Elements of Style.
"I will not be a lemming and follow the crowd over the cliff and into the C."    — John (Jack) Beidler.
"Because we are returning a copy for postfix ++ expressions, statements such as (c++)++; won't work as expected."    — Weiskamp & Flamig, The Buy at Amazon.comComplete C++ Primer.
"Evolution of the C programmer:    — Richard Heathfield.
"... one of the main causes of the fall of the Roman Empire was that, lacking zero, they had no way to indicate successful termination of their C programs."    — Robert Firth.
"I've never met anyone responsible for C language code maintenance who speaks well of the C Language.
Anyone out there who LIKES to maintain C code ?"    — Ted Dennison.
"C is quirky, flawed, and an enormous success."    — Buy at Amazon.comDennis M. Ritchie (1941-2011).
"A C program is like a fast dance on a newly waxed dance floor by people carrying razors."    — Waldi Ravens.
"The C Programming Language — A language which combines the flexibility of assembly language with the power of assembly language."
"The more I C, the less I see."
"C programmers never die. They are just cast into void."
"A UNIX saleslady, Lenore
Likes work, but likes the beach more.
She found a clever way
To mix work with play...
She sells C shells by the seashore."
"It is easier to port a shell than a shell script."    — Larry Wall.
"Fixing Unix is easier than living with NT."    — Jonathan Gilpin.
"There are two major products that come out of Berkeley: LSD and UNIX. We don't believe this to be a coincidence."    — Jeremy S. Anderson.
"I liken starting one's computing career with Unix, say as an undergraduate, to being born in East Africa. It is intolerably hot, your body is covered with lice and flies, you are malnourished and you suffer from numerous curable diseases. But, as far as young East Africans can tell, this is simply the natural condition and they live within it. By the time they find out differently, it is too late. They already think that the writing of shell scripts is a natural act."    — Ken Pier, Xerox PARC.
"The original Unix solved a problem and solved it well, as did the Roman numeral system, the mercury treatment for syphilis, and carbon paper."
"Confucius say: He who play in root, eventually kill tree."
"To err is human... to really foul up requires the root password."
"Unix is the answer, but only if you phrase the question very carefully."
"19 Jan 2038 at 3:14:07 AM"    — The end of the word according to Unix (232 seconds after Jan 1st 1970).
"Unix is user-friendly. It's just very selective about who its friends are."
"UNIX: It's not just 'User-Unfriendly', it's 'Proactively User-Hostile' !"
"Programming graphics in X is like finding sqrt(pi) using Roman numerals. "
"The number of the beast — vi vi vi."
"In years past, I knew of someone who used emacs as his login shell, the only thing he found wanting in emacs was a good text editor. So he ended up using vi."    — Anonymous
"VMS is a text-only adventure game. If you win you can use unix."    — W. Davidson.
"The big difference between UNIX and VMS:
To do anything on UNIX, you need to know an obscure command.
To do anything on VMS, you need to know an obscure option to SET."

Dilbert strip, time saving


"Fifty years of programming language research, and we end up with C++ ???"    — Buy at Amazon.comRichard A. O'Keefe.
"I invented the term 'Object-Oriented', and I can tell you I did not have C++ in mind."    — Alan Kay, creator of Buy at Amazon.comSmalltalk.
"C++: Hard to learn and built to stay that way."
"Java is, in many ways, C++--."    — Michael Feldman.
"How C++ is like teenage sex:
  1. It is on everyone's mind all the time.
  2. Everyone talks about it all the time.
  3. Everyone thinks everyone else is doing it.
  4. Almost no one is really doing it.
  5. The few who are doing it are: A. Doing it poorly. B. Sure it will be better next time. C. Not practicing it safely."
"C++ is a horrible language. It's made more horrible by the fact that a lot of substandard programmers use it, to the point where it's much much easier to generate total and utter crap with it. Quite frankly, even if the choice of C were to do *nothing* but keep the C++ programmers out, that in itself would be a huge reason to use C."    — Linux Torvalds.
"Friends, much as in real life, are often more trouble than their worth."    — Scott Meyers on friend functions in C++.
"Writing in C or C++ is like running a chain saw with all the safety guards removed,"    — Bob Gray.
"Ever spend a little time reading comp.lang.c++ ? That's really the best place to learn about the number of C++ users looking for a better language."    — R. William Beckwith.
"The evolution of languages: FORTRAN is a non-typed language. C is a weakly typed language. Ada is a strongly typed language. C++ is a strongly hyped language."    — Ron Sercely.
"Don't include a single line in your code which you could not explain to your grandmother in a matter of two minutes. And of course... assume your grandmother is not Ada Lovelace."    — Anonymous.
"PL/I and Ada started out with all the bloat, were very daunting languages, and got bad reputations (deservedly). C++ has shown that if you slowly bloat up a language over a period of years, people don't seem to mind as much."    — James Hague.
"What is the object oriented way of getting rich ?
— Inheritance ."
"In the one and only true way. The object-oriented version of 'Spaghetti code' is, of course, 'Lasagna code'. (Too many layers)."    — Roberto Waltman.
"C(++) is a write-only, high-level assembler language."    — Stefan Van Baelen.
"— C++ has its place in the history of programming languages.
— Just as Caligula has his place in the history of the Roman Empire ?"    — Robert Firth.
"C++ : Where friends have access to your private members."    — Gavin Russell Baker.
"C++ would make a decent teaching language if we could teach the ++ part without the C part."    — Michael B. Feldman.
"The great thing about Object Oriented code is that it can make small, simple problems look like large, complex ones."
"In C++ it's harder to shoot yourself in the foot, but when you do, you blow off your whole leg."    — Buy at Amazon.comBjarne Stroustrup.
"Hybrid ('half-assed') object languages like C++ are worst of all, as they unite the simplicity of Brainfuck with the inherent security of C and the speed of Perl."    — Tony.


"Cobol: Completely Obsolete Business Orientated Language."
"The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should therefore be regarded as a criminal offense."    — Buy at Amazon.comE.W. Dijkstra (1930—2002).
"COBOL programs are an exercise in Artificial Inelegance."
"If a group of N persons implements a COBOL compiler, there will be N-1 passes. Someone in the group has to be the manager."
"Shots through the Buy at Amazon.comTerminator's vision show Motorola 6502 microprocessor assembler code; the 6502 chip is the main CPU for the Apple II computer. Other code visible is written in COBOL."    — From the IMDB trivia.
"COBOL programmers understand why women hate periods."

Perl, PHP, Regexp...

"If Python is executable pseudocode, then perl is executable line noise."
"Python's a drop-in replacement for BASIC in the sense that Optimus Prime is a drop-in replacement for a truck."    — MFen.
"PHP is a minor evil perpetrated and created by incompetent amateurs, whereas Perl is a great and insidious evil, perpetrated by skilled but perverted professionals."    — Jon Ribbens.
"I'm not a real programmer. I throw together things until it works then I move on. The real programmers will say: "yeah it works but you're leaking memory everywhere. Perhaps we should fix that". I'll just restart apache every 10 requests."    — Rasmus Lerdorf, author of PHP.
"If PHP was originally designed explicitly for non-programmers, does that mean you write non-programs with it ?"
"Perl 1.0: All the power of QBasic, the readability of assembly, and the flexibility of DOS batch scripting..."
"If I've got a simple task to do (eg the text-file-of-URLS example) then I knock it up in shell script. By the time that simple task has feature-creeped up to more than 20 lines I start to wish I'd written it in Perl. So I rewrite. By the time that Perl script has crept up to more than 200 lines I start to wish it was written in Python. So I rewrite. By the time that Python script has crept up to 2000 lines I start to wish I'd farmed the job out to a team of programmers, and I give up caring what language its written in and make them do it as a web service. Then I write a small shell script to call their web service. When that shell script has feature-creeped up to more than 20 lines..."    — Bazman.
"Though I'll admit readability suffers slightly..."    — Larry Wall (of Buy at Amazon.comPerl fame).
"Larry Wall invented Perl. If that doesn't show the mind-twisting effect that religion can have on some people, I don't know what does."    — UserGogol upon learning that Buy at Amazon.comLarry Wall is Christian.
"When they first built the University of California at Irvine they just put the buildings in. They did not put any sidewalks, they just planted grass. The next year, they came back and put the sidewalks where the trails were in the grass. Perl is just that kind of language. It is not designed from first principles. Perl is those sidewalks in the grass."    — Buy at Amazon.comLarry Wall.
"After Perl everything else is just assembly language."
"I would rather use Java than Perl. And I'd rather be eaten by a crocodile than use Java."    — Trouser.
"If I wanted plastic scissors I'd use Java. Give me my scalpel back."    — JustNiz.
"Saying that Java is nice because it works on all OSs is like saying that anal sex is nice because it works on all genders."    — Alanna.
"I won't program in java anymore. I'm not Marxist and don't believe in classes."    — phluid.
"Fine, Java MIGHT be a good example of what a programming language should be like. But Java applications are good examples of what applications SHOULDN'T be like."    — pixadel.
"While the PHP libraries may be a touch on the fragile and 'arbitrary' side, compared to the libraries in Java, for example, the language itself is like Miss America to Perl's Roseanne Barr."    — Fnkmaster.
"Perl is like my ex-girlfriend... I used to be all over her^H^H^Hit but am now fawning over the knockout redhead Ruby. Unfortunately, I had several children with my ex that still need to be cared for — feature improvements, bugfixes, restarts. Hopefully one day they'll grow up and leave the house so Ruby can have me all to herself."    — tedhiltonhead.
"Some people, when confronted with a problem, think 'I know, I'll use regular expressions'. Now they have two problems."    — Jamie Zawinski.
"Q: When do I need xml ?
A: When I need a new buzz word for my resume."    — From the W3 XML page.

Schematics of a software project

Ada, Fortran, Lisp, assembler, brainf**k and whatnot...

"Some languages are designed to solve a problem. Others are designed to prove a point."    — Bell Labs saying.
"Do you program in Assembly ?" she asked. "NOP", he said.
"A developer writes an average of 6 lines of code per day for the entire project; think what you can do with 6 lines of Assembler and with 6 lines of a high level language."
"Low-level programming is good for the programmer's soul."    — John Carmack.
"You can tell how far we have to go, when FORTRAN is the language of supercomputers."    — Buy at Amazon.comSteven Feiner.
"FORTRAN, the infantile disorder, by now nearly 20 years old, is hopelessly inadequate for whatever computer application you have in mind today: it is now too clumsy, too risky, and too expensive to use."    — Buy at Amazon.comEdsger W. Dijkstra, circa 1970.
"FORTRAN was the language of choice for the same reason that three-legged races are popular."    — Ken Thompson, "Reflections on Trusting Trust"
"In the good old days physicists repeated each other's experiments, just to be sure. Today they stick to FORTRAN, so that they can share each other's programs, bugs included."    — Buy at Amazon.comE.W. Dijkstra (1930—2002).
"Consistently separating words by spaces became a general custom about the tenth century A.D., and lasted until about 1957, when FORTRAN abandoned the practice."    — Sun FORTRAN Reference Manual .
"FORTRAN is not a flower but a weed — it is hardy, occasionally blooms, and grows in every computer."    — Buy at Amazon.comAlan J. Perlis.
"You can create bad Fortran in any language."
"I am pissed off. My university's motto is 'A university for the REAL world'. And so they start off a game programming degree with six months of LISP."    — TraumaPony.
"Lisp isn't a language, it's a building material."    — Alan Kay.
"The problem with object-oriented languages is that they've got all this implicit environment that they carry around with them. You wanted a banana but what you've got is a gorilla holding the banana and the entire jungle."    — Joe Armstrong, inventor of Erlang.
"Any language that will allow you to define the number 4 as a word that places the number 3 on the stack can be a frightening weapon."    — About Buy at Amazon.comForth.
"Pascal /n./ A programming language named after a man who would turn over in his grave if he knew about it."
"BASIC programmers never die, they GOSUB and don't RETURN."
"Real programmers don't write in BASIC. Actually, no programmers write in BASIC after reaching puberty."
"When Roman engineers built a bridge, they had to stand under it while the first legion marched across. If programmers today worked under similar ground rules, they might well find themselves getting much more interested in Ada !"    — Robert Dewar, President Ada Core Technologies.
"Q: If anyone knows of a book that is the functional equivalent of 'The Idiot's Guide to C' for the Ada language, please send me the title and author.
A: Idiots don't use Ada. Idiots only use C or derivations."    — David Weller.
"Epigram: Ada is the 400-pound gorilla of programming languages."
"The problem about all graphical programming languages is that when your project becomes complex, not only will you have spaghetti code, but it will actually look like spaghetti too."

Year 2000 bug


"They don't make bugs like Bunny anymore."    — Olav Mjelde.
"'Always apply the latest updates' and 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' are the two rules of system administration..."
"If debugging is the process of removing software bugs, then programming must be the process of putting them in."
"On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament!]: 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out ?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."    — Buy at Amazon.comCharles Babbage.
"Program testing can be a very effective way to show the presence of bugs, but is hopelessly inadequate for showing their absence."    — Buy at Amazon.comEdsger W. Dijkstra.
"When the only tool you own is a hammer, every problem you encounter resembles a nail."
"System Error: press F13 to continue..."
"To err is human, but for a real disaster you need a computer."
"My computer NEVER loc
"Computers make very fast, very accurate mistakes."
"If it works, leave it alone — there's no need to understand it. If it fails, try to fix it — there's no time to understand it."    — Bill Pfeifer.
"I have a friend who told me that the very best computer system ever built by mankind was by the Druids at Stonehenge. Well, that's an old story. But what I liked was that he felt the Druids didn't die out, they just went bankrupt trying to debug the software."    — J. Finke.
"Assumption is the mother of all fuckups."    — Anonymous.
"It's not that I'm surrounded by incompetence that bothers me, it's that I fit in so well."
"I don't care if it works on your machine! We are not shipping your machine!"    — Vidiu Platon.
"Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it."    — Brian W. Kernighan.
"We know about as much about software quality problems as they knew about the Black Plague in the 1600s. We've seen the victims' agonies and helped burn the corpses. We don't know what causes it; we don't really know if there is only one disease. We just suffer — and keep pouring our sewage into our water supply."    — Tom Van Vleck.
"...In fact, never ever use gets() or sprintf(), period. If you do we will send evil dwarfs after you."    — FreeBSD Secure Programming Guidelines.
"The combination of threads, remote-procedure-call interfaces, and heavyweight object-oriented design is especially dangerous... if you are ever invited onto a project that is supposed to feature all three, fleeing in terror might well be an appropriate reaction."    — Eric Raymond, "The Art of Unix Programming".
"The best thing about a boolean is even if you are wrong, you are only off by a bit."
"Would you rather Test-First, or Debug-Later ?"    — Robert Martin .
"Don't worry, we have plenty of time to get the Nuclear Missile Launch program Y2K compliant, besides, I always code better after a few drinks."
"Life would be so much easier if we only had the source code."
"Who is this 'General Failure' and why is he reading my disk ?"
"Programmers and old people have a lot in common. We're both always looking for ways to control leaks and dumps."    — Ralf.
"It is easier to change the specification to fit the program than vice versa."
"It is twice as difficult to debug a program as to write it. Therefore, if you put all of your creativity and effort into writing the program, you are not smart enough to debug it."
"We have a bug that occurs on the 31st of a month so once a month we get a bug report. It gets assigned to a developer within 24 hours who then fiddles for a bit before marking it 'unable to reproduce'."    — kosh.
"I'm in the computer business, I make Out-Of-Order signs. "
"Kevorkian Virus: helps your computer shut down whenever it wants to."
"Error, no keyboard — press F1 to continue."
"Cannot delete tmp150---3.tmp: There is not enough free disk space. Delete one or more files to free disk space, and then try again."
"File not found. Should I fake it ? (Y/N)"
"Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it."    — Buy at Amazon.comDonald E. Knuth.
"The first manned space flight had a computer on board to control re-entry, but it was basic in the extreme, and locked so Comrade Gagarin couldn't tamper with it. An envelope with the code to unlock the computer was hidden somewhere in the capsule, and should an emergency arise, ground control would tell him where it was."
"When all else fails, read the instructions."    — L. Iasellio.
"Computer system analysis is like child-rearing; you can do grievous damage, but you cannot ensure success."    — Buy at Amazon.comTom DeMarco.
"As currently implemented, the etime function fails across month and year boundaries. Since etime is an M-file, you can modify the code to work across these boundaries if needed."    — Found in the Buy at Amazon.comMatlab documentation. You mean to tell me I should pay several hundred $ for code that doesn't even work, but 'fortunately' I can modify it myself to make it work !?! Thanks but I'll stick to Octave.
"The memory management on the PowerPC can be used to frighten small children."    — Buy at Amazon.comLinus Torvalds.
"When in doubt, use brute force."    — Ken Thompson.
"If brute force doesn't solve your problems, then you aren't using enough."
"The definition of an upgrade: Take old bugs out, put new ones in."
"Evolution is God's way of issuing upgrades."
"It should be noted that no ethically-trained software engineer would ever consent to write a DestroyBaghdad procedure. Basic professional ethics would instead require him to write a DestroyCity procedure, to which Baghdad could be given as a parameter. "    — Nathaniel Borenstein.
"That's the thing about people who think they hate computers. What they really hate is lousy programmers."    — Larry Niven.
"The only problem with troubleshooting is that sometimes trouble shoots back."
"Each new user of a new system uncovers a new class of bugs."    — Buy at Amazon.comKernighan.
"If it's not on fire, it's a software problem."
"Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live."    — Martin Golding.
"Never test for an error condition you don't know how to handle."    — Steinbach's Guideline for Systems Programmers.
"Sometimes it pays to stay in bed on Monday, rather than spending the rest of the week debugging Monday's code."    — Christopher Thompson.
"My software never has bugs. It just develops random features."
"The only difference between a bug and a feature is the documentation."
"Programming is like sex: one mistake and you're providing support for a lifetime."    — Michael Sinz.
"There are two ways to write error-free programs; only the third one works."    — Buy at Amazon.comAlan J. Perlis.
"There are two ways of constructing a software design. One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies. And the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies."    — C.A.R. Hoare.
"A one-question geek test. If you get the joke, you're a geek: Seen on a California license plate on a VW Beetle: 'FEATURE'..."    — Joshua D. Wachs, Natural Intelligence Inc.
"Q: How can you tell an extroverted computer geek from an introverted computer geek ?
A: The introverted computer geek will look at his shoes while he talks to you. The extroverted computer geek will look at your shoes while he talks to you."
"Q: How do you tell if an extroverted computer geek is Russian ?
A: His shoes look at you while he is talking."
"To work on a program with the compiler in debug mode and then to sell it compiling it without the debug option is like learning to swim with floaters and then taking them off to swim across the Atlantic."    — My C professor.
"I hope the Q-Tips in that 500 count box I bought last night are Year 2000 compliant, 'cause it'll take me at least three years to get through them all."    — Mark Mundy.
"It's a little-known fact that the Y1K problem caused the Dark Ages."
"As an ultimate incentive to solve the millennium bug computer problem, China has ordered its airline executives to take a flight on January 1, 2000."    — The Financial Times.
"It's 11:59 on December 31 1999. In two minutes time, are you gonna be glad you don't have a bank account ?"