Quotes About Computers and Software

“Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.”
— Rich Cook

“A system admin’s life is a sorry one. The only advantage he has over Emergency Room doctors is that malpractice suits are rare. On the other hand, ER doctors never have to deal with patients installing new versions of their own innards!”
— Michael O’Brien

“An idiot with a computer is a faster, better idiot”
— Rich Julius


“Unix was not designed to stop people from doing stupid things, because that would also stop them from doing clever things.”
— Doug Gwyn

“Walking on water and developing software from a specification are easy if both are frozen.”
— Edward V. Berard, “Life-Cycle Approaches”

“True research is like fumbling in the dark for the right switches. Once you’ve turned the light on everyone can see… ”
— unknown

“The C Programming Language – A language which combines the flexibility of assembly language with the power of assembly language.”
“Pascal – A programming language named after a man who would turn over in his grave if he knew about it.”
— unknown

“I haven’t lost my mind, I have it backed up on tape somewhere.”
— unknown

PROGRAM – n. A magic spell cast over a computer allowing it to turn one’s input into error messages.
v. tr.- To engage in a pastime similar to banging one’s head against a wall, but with fewer opportunities for reward.

“On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.”
— cartoon in the New Yorker

“Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it.”
— Donald Knuth

“Build a system that even a fool can use, and only a fool will use it.”
— unknown

PCMCIA – People Can’t Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms

“C makes it easy to shoot yourself in the foot. C++ makes it harder, but when you do, it blows away your whole leg.”
— Bjarne Stroustrup

“The primary purpose of the DATA statement is to give names to constants; instead of referring to pi as 3.141592653589793 at every appearance, the variable pi can be given that value with a DATA statement and used instead of the longer form of the constant. This also simplifies modifying the program, should the value of pi change.”
— FORTRAN manual for Xerox computers

“The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should, therefore, be regarded as a criminal offense.”
— E. W. Dijkstra

“It is practically impossible to teach good programming style to students that [sic] have had prior exposure to BASIC; as potential programmers they are mentally mutilated beyond hope of regeneration.”
— E. W. Dijkstra

“Usenet is like Tetris for people who still remember how to read.”
— Joshua Heller

“I went on to test the program in every way I could devise. I strained it to expose its weaknesses. I ran it for high-mass stars and low-mass stars, for stars born exceedingly hot and those born relatively cold. I ran it assuming the superfluid currents beneath the crust to be absent — not because I wanted to know the answer, but because I had developed an intuitive feel for the answer in this particular case. Finally I got a run in which the computer showed the pulsar’s temperature to be less than absolute zero. I had found an error. I chased down the error and fixed it. Now I had improved the program to the point where it would not run at all.”
— George Greenstein,
“Frozen Star: Of Pulsars, Black Holes and the Fate of Stars”