In the world of programming, it’s not just codes and algorithms that drive us forward. Sometimes we need a dose of wisdom or a spark of humor to sharpen our perspective and reignite our passion. In this article, I’ve put together 60 inspiring, thought-provoking and amusing programmer quotes from some of the brightest minds in the tech industry. From Oscar Godson reminding us to recognize the right time to take a break to Steve Jobs’ legendary words about programming as a thinking tool, this collection is a treasure for any programmer. Whether you’re a seasoned code writer or a curious beginner, these programmer quotes will offer you new insights and a fresh perspective on what it means to create and innovate in the digital world.
Take a break
„One of the best programming skills you can have is knowing when to walk away for awhile.“ – Oscar Godson
Sometimes the smartest move you can make as a programmer is to take a break. This quote reminds us that taking a step back often leads to clearer solutions. Programming is also a creative process where time for reflection is essential.
„Give someone a program; you frustrate them for a day; teach them how to program, and you frustrate them for a lifetime.“ – David Leinweber
Programming is a learning process that never ends. This quote shows in a humorous way that the challenges of programming never end.
Software is never perfect
„No one in the brief history of computing has ever written a piece of perfect software. It’s unlikely that you’ll be the first.“ – Andy Hunt
Seeking perfection in programming is an endless journey. Programming is an ongoing process and is never complete. Software will never be completely perfect.
Programming for thinking
„A programming language is for thinking about programs, not for expressing programs you’ve already thought of. It should be a pencil, not a pen.“ – Paul Graham
Paul Graham compares programming languages to a pencil – they are a tool for formulating creative thoughts, not just for writing down finished ideas.
Concern for structure
„Bad programmers worry about the code. Good programmers worry about data structures and their relationships.“ – Linus Torvalds
Linus Torvalds emphasizes that good programming goes beyond the code and requires a deep understanding of the structures behind it.
„It´s better to wait for a productive programmer to become available than it is to wait for the first available programmer to become productive.“ – Steve McConnell
Steve McConnell emphasizes that it is better to wait for productive programmers than to leave the project to the next available programmer.
„Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand.“ – Martin Fowler
Martin Fowler’s words remind us that good code should not only be machine-readable, but also human-readable. We programmers write and read code, so code should be human-optimized.
„Everyday life is like programming, I guess. If you love something, you can put beauty into it.“ – Donald Knuth
Donald Knuth draws a parallel between life and programming by saying that if you love something, you can also express beauty in it. So you can see a certain beauty in programming and write code elegantly.
Programming teaches you to think
„Everybody in this country should learn to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.“ – Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs sees programming not just as a skill, but as a way of thinking. It is a tool that promotes creativity in problem solving and in shaping life. He believes that everyone should learn to program.
Better safe than sorry
„A good programmer is someone who always looks both ways before crossing a one-way street.“ – Doug Linder
Doug Linder emphasizes with a pinch of humor that good programmers always think ahead – a sign of wisdom and creative foresight.
Creativity meets logic
„You might not think that programmers are artists, but programming is an extremely creative profession. It’s logic-based creativity.“ – John Romero
John Romero emphasizes that programming is an art form based on logic. It is a perfect example of how technical know-how and creativity go hand in hand.
„Every programmer is an author.“ – Sercan Leylek
Programmers are like authors who tell their stories through code. Every line of code can be a story of problem solving and ingenuity.
The 50-50-90 rule
„The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there’s a 90% probability you’ll get it wrong.“ – Anonymous
A funny quote that shows how quickly you can make a mistake in your assessment of how difficult a problem is to solve.
Simplification through omission
„In software, the most beautiful code, the most beautiful functions, and the most beautiful programs are sometimes not there at all.“ – Jon Bentley
The elegance of the code is sometimes revealed in its simplicity and in the omission of unnecessary complexity.
„There are 10 types of people in this world, those who understand binary and those who don’t.“ – Anonymous
A joke among programmers. What was 10 in binary again?
„One of my most productive days was throwing away 1000 lines of code.“ – Ken Thompson
Ken Thompson’s statement is an example of how sometimes removing the superfluous leads to greater clarity and better code. True to the motto “less is more”. KISS and YAGNI are relevant principles here.
Code with care – best programmer quotes
„Always code as if the guy who ends up maintaining your code will be a violent psychopath who knows where you live“ – John Woods
This humorous warning reminds us to make our code clear and understandable.
Code and relationships
„A code is like love, it has created with clear intentions at the beginning, but it can get complicated.“ – Gerry Geek
Developing code can be like a relationship. It starts with the best intentions, but can quickly become complicated.
The truth in the code
„Code never lies, comments sometimes do.“ – Ron Jeffries
This quote speaks to the integrity and authenticity that a programmer brings to their code – the honest expression of creativity.
„Any code of your own that you haven’t looked at for six or more months might as well have been written by someone else.“ – (Eagleson’s Law)
Eagleson’s law shows how quickly a developer’s perspective can change and how quickly you forget your own code. Sometimes it happens even faster.
Computers are useless
„Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.“ – Pablo Picasso
An old quote. It is supposed to show that computers have no creativity. In the age of AI, we’ll see how long this statement holds up.
Technology and simplicity
„Computers are like bikinis. They save people a lot of guesswork.“ – Sam Ewing
Sam Ewing makes a humorous comparison that highlights the ability of computers to give quick answers without having to guess.
The serenity of the machines
„That’s what’s cool about working with computers. They don’t argue, they remember everything, and they don’t drink all your beer.“ – Paul Leary
A funny quote from Paul Leary. Computers are the best companions.
„If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside.“ – Robert X. Cringely
Robert X. Cringely humorously emphasizes the rapid development of computer technology and its weaknesses. This quote is often the subject of controversy.
„Computers are getting smarter all the time. Scientists tell us that soon they will be able to talk to us. (And by ‘they’, I mean ‘computers’. I doubt scientists will ever be able to talk to us.)“ – Dave Barry
A funny quote that expresses, among other things, that computers have a better chance of explaining things in a more comprehensible way than scientists.
„I’ve noticed lately that the paranoid fear of computers becoming intelligent and taking over the world has almost entirely disappeared from the common culture. Near as I can tell, this coincides with the release of MS-DOS.“ – Larry DeLuca
The fear of computers taking over the world disappeared, as Larry DeLuca says, exactly when MS-DOS came out. A funny allusion to the fact that MS-DOS was not the yellow of the egg.
„The question of whether computers can think is like the question of whether submarines can swim.“ – Edsger W. Dijkstra
Edsger W. Dijkstra poses a philosophical question about the nature of computer technology and its ability to “think”.
Throwing out of the window
„Never trust a computer you can’t throw out a window.“ – Steve Wozniak
Steve Wozniak’s quote is a humorous reminder that despite all the advances in technology, we still need to maintain a degree of control and understanding over our tools.
Hardware can be kicked
„Hardware: The parts of a computer system that can be kicked.“ – Jeff Pesis
How do you distinguish software from hardware? Hardware can be kicked.
Software is like building pyramids
„Most software today is very much like an Egyptian pyramid with millions of bricks piled on top of each other, with no structural integrity, but just done by brute force and thousands of slaves.“ – Alan Kay
Alan Kay’s comparison of software development with the building of pyramids emphasizes that computer programs often become so complicated that it takes many programmers to improve them and productivity decreases because the structures in the software simply become too complex.
„Sometimes it pays to stay in bed on Monday rather than spending the rest of the week debugging Monday’s code.“ – Dan Salomon
A quote from Dan Salomon that shows that a tired programmer often programs errors that he needs the rest of the week to fix. Better to program awake and fit than overtired. That only brings in more errors than anything is worth.
The debugging dilemma
„Debugging becomes significantly easier if you first admit that you are the problem.“ – William Laeder
William Laeder reminds us that self-reflection is the first step to solving programming problems.
Debugging smart code
„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 Kernighan
In over-optimized and particularly “smart” code there are often bugs that are very difficult to find. Bugs can also be found more easily in light code. Debugging is always more difficult than programming, so the code should be lighter rather than more complex.
It works for me
„I don’t care if it works on your machine! We are not shipping your machine.“ – Vidiu Platon
Software must be optimized for the end customer, not for the developer. A good programmer quote.
The core of the problem
„Fix the cause, not the symptom.“ – Steve Maguire
According to Steve Maguire, we should focus on the causes of problems, not just the symptoms.
What is the problem?
„In programming, the hard part isn’t solving problems but deciding what problems to solve.“ – Paul Graham
Paul Graham talks about the challenges of identifying the right problems in software development.
The right order
„First, solve the problem. Then write the code.“ – John Johnson
John Johnson’s quote reminds us that a clear problem definition should take place before the code is created.
Making the impossible possible
„Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.“ – Alan Turing
Often the people who are not trusted to do anything create the greatest things.
Human readable code
„Programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute.“ – Harold Abelson
The main task of code is to be readable for programmers.
Simple and effective
„Simplicity is the soul of efficiency.“ – Austin Freeman
In the world of programming, simplicity can be a complex challenge. This general quote is applicable to code: Often simple code is the most important tool for efficiency.
The first programming language – best programmer quotes
„The most disastrous thing that you can ever learn is your first programming language.“ – Alan Kay
Alan Kay, one of the pioneers of object-oriented programming, encourages us to think outside the box. Learning a programming language is only the beginning of the creative journey, not the end.
„To iterate is human, to recurse divine.“ – L. Peter Deutsch
This quote by L. Peter Deutsch alludes to the beauty and depth of recursion in programming.
Programming is magic
„Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.“ – Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke’s famous third law is a reminder that the work of programmers often seems like magic. Advanced technology seems like magic to people who are not familiar with it.
Knowledge is power
„Knowledge is power.“ – Francis Bacon
Although Francis Bacon was not talking about programming, his quote about the power of knowledge also applies here. Knowledge enables programmers to solve complex problems creatively.
The art of problem solving
„A problem well stated is a problem half solved.“ – Charles Kettering
A problem that is described well enough is already half solved. This is especially true for programming. If the problem is described well enough and in enough detail, it is easy to translate it into code for machines.
„I am not a great programmer; I am just a good programmer with great habits.“ – Kent Beck
Kent Beck, one of the fathers of Extreme Programming, emphasizes that good programming habits are more important than talent.
Just off the mark
„The best thing about a boolean is even if you are wrong, you are only off by a bit.“ – Anonymous
A funny play on words.
„Good code is its own best documentation. As you’re about to add a comment, ask yourself, ‘How can I improve the code so that this comment isn’t needed?’“ – Steve McConnell
Steve McConnell encourages writing code so clearly that it speaks for itself and needs no additional explanation – a true art form.
Walking on water
„Walking on water and developing software from a specification are easy if both are frozen.“ – Edward V Berard
A very important quote. If the specification does not change, it is easy to follow it. But if it does change, it’s just as difficult to follow as if you had to walk on water.
Aim of a program
„The most important property of a program is whether it accomplishes the intention of its user.“ – C.A.R. Hoare
C.A.R. Hoare emphasizes that the goal of all programming is to meet the needs of the user.
„It’s not a bug – it’s an undocumented feature.“ – Anonymous
A joke aimed at the fact that a bug could also be an undocumented feature.
The two-month rule
„What one programmer can do in one month, two programmers can do in two months.“ – Fred Brooks
With an ironic undertone, Fred Brooks addresses the often underestimated complexity of software projects, which cannot simply be solved with more staff.
„Code is like humor. When you have to explain it, it’s bad.“ – Cory House
Cory House draws a parallel between humor and programming: Both must be to the point and self-evident in order not to lose their impact.
Choose names wisely
„You should name a variable using the same care with which you name a first-born child.“ – Robert C. Martin
Robert C. Martin emphasizes the importance of thoughtful and meaningful names in programming that tell a story and promote understanding.
The invention of the future
„The best way to predict the future is to invent it.“ – Alan Kay
Alan Kay inspires with the idea that programmers not only solve existing problems, but actively shape the future.
The best error message is invisible
„The best error message is the one that never shows up.“ – Thomas Fuchs
Thomas Fuchs emphasizes the importance of preventive error avoidance.
„As a programmer, it is your job to put yourself out of business. What you do today can be automated tomorrow.“ – Doug McIlroy
As a programmer, you can automate many things. But be careful, that the automation does not take longer then the task itself.
The never-ending hunt for bugs – best programmer quotes
„There is always one more bug to fix.“ – Ellen Ullman
Ellen Ullman reminds us that software is never error-free.
The emergence of bugs
„If debugging is the process of removing bugs, then programming must be the process of putting them in.“ – Edsger W. Dijkstra
A funny quote. Programming means producing bugs and debugging to remove them. Of course, you can’t take that literally.
The art of testing
„Testing can only prove the presence of bugs, not their absence.“ – Edsger W. Dijkstra
You can never prove freedom from errors, only find existing bugs.
Programmer quotes faq
Quotes can serve as guiding principles and help to maintain a positive attitude, solve complex problems and encourage creative thinking.
Yes, many quotes are from experienced programmers sharing their lessons and insights that can serve as sage advice for good programming practices.
Experienced programmers often advise seeing programming as a constant learning process, coding clearly and maintainably and always keeping the big picture in mind.
Errors are an unavoidable but valuable source of learning. Accepting them and analyzing why they occurred helps to write more robust and efficient code in the future.
Yes, many quotes emphasize the importance of collaboration and communication, for example: “Good programmers write code that computers understand. Great programmers write code that people understand.” – Martin Fowler.
Many principles of software development are timeless. Quotes that convey wisdom and principles remain relevant even in a rapidly evolving industry.