Your Favorite Programming Quote

My all-time favorite programming quote has to be this Nathaniel Borenstein bon mot:

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:
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I’d have to say Ditto on Steve McConnell. Reading Code Complete actually inspired a passion for programming I didn’t quite have up to that point.

I have to add this quote too because it’s one of my all time favorites:

“No matter how slick the demo is in rehearsal, when you do it in front of a live audience the probability of a flawless presentation is inversely proportional to the number of people watching, raised to the power of the amount of money involved.”
-Mark Gibbs

Another site with a nice list of quotes is Cluefire (

“Learning to program has no more to do with designing interactive software than learning to touch type has to do with writing poetry” - Ted Nelson

haha nice quotes Jeff and Jivlain. I am developing ethics tools, so the quote from Nathaniel Borenstein is perfect. :slight_smile:

Don’t know if I have any fancy software developers, but I have always admired John Carmack [ID Software] a lot, but maybe that was more because I enjoyed his Quake games.

“Low-level programming is good for the programmer’s soul.”
John Carmack

Programmers, by nature, want to write good programs.
When the completion of a program becomes more important than having a good program, then said program is neither good nor complete.
-James D. Shea
and another:
" Don’t study the idea to death with experts and committees. Get on with it and see if it works. "

Ken Iverson

[Sonium] someone speak python here?
[lucky] SSSSS
[Sonium] the programming language

One of my favorites is Michael Jackson’s story about Fred and Jane, entitled “Brilliance”. It is a bit too long to quote here, but I recently quoted it on my blog:

It says a lot about programmers as human beings, which is I think very interesting…

without hesitation, the greatest influence on my work as a software developper is Niklaus Wirth. from “Algorithms + Data Structures = Programs” to “A Plea for Lean Software”, i just plain love his work and admire his writing skills.

i will simply quote his most famous pun, which also best describes his value through my eyes:
“Whereas Europeans generally pronounce my name the right way (‘Ni-klows Wirt’), Americans invariably mangle it into ‘Nick-les Worth’. This is to say that Europeans call me by name, but Americans call me by value.”

there is much to learn from is work, but you know people never really learn. the best proof comes from the Dartmouth Basic manual, edited in 1964: “typing is no substitute for thinking”. how many people around you are following this advice, 40 years later ?

“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.

Every single one of Alan J. Perlis epigrams is a gem.

Here’s one favorite:

Because of its vitality, the computing field is always in desperate need of new cliches: Banality soothes our nerves.

The best thing about a boolean is even if you are wrong, you are only off by a bit.

Thanks, Bryan.

When we don’t understand a process, we fall into magical thinking about results.
–Jef Raskin

True greatness is measured by how much freedom you give to others, not by how much you can coerce others to do what you want.
–Larry Wall

Simple things should be simple, complex things should be possible.
– Alan Kay

Good design adds value faster than it adds cost.
–Thomas C. Gale

It is not about bits, bytes and protocols but profits, losses and margins.
– Lou Gerstner

Reading influences you a lot. Read through the “Real Programmers” section of Wikiquote without the prior knowledge that it was meant to be funny, and you get theDailyWTF…

My all-time favorite is:

Simplicity and elegance are unpopular because thy require hard work and discipline to achieve and education to be appreciated. – Edsger Dijkstra


I’d create a City class and implement IDisposable. City resources (especially in Baghdad) are unmanaged… :wink:

On Perl:

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]

@Siegfried: LOL :slight_smile:

Are you aiming for quotes that describe programmers to laypeople? Or quotes that inspire programmers to program?

“How To Become a Better Programmer by Not Programming”

“Go To Statement Considered Harmful”