Top 13 Funny Software Development Quotes

Over the years, I’ve collected some of the smartest-yet-funny software development quotes I have read. Here’s the current short list in no particular order. Oddly enough, there are thirteen of them and they all address the woes of programming.

Feel free to add any like quotes in the comment section!

  1. “The first 90% of the code accounts for the first 90% of the development time. The remaining 10% of the code accounts for the other 90% of the development time.” – Tom Cargill
  2. “In order to understand recursion, one must first understand recursion.” – Author Unknown
  3. “I have always wished for my computer to be as easy to use as my telephone; my wish has come true because I can no longer figure out how to use my telephone.” – Bjarne Stroustrup
  4. “A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any other invention in human history, with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.” – Mitch Ratcliffe
  5. “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. The first method is far more difficult.” -C.A.R. Hoare
  6. “The gap between theory and practice is not as wide in theory as it is in practice.” – Author Unknown
  7. “If builders built buildings the way programmers wrote programs, then the first woodpecker that came along would destroy civilization.” – Gerald Weinberg
  8. “If debugging is the process of removing software bugs, then programming must be the process of putting them in.” – Edsger Dijkstra
  9. “Measuring programming progress by lines of code is like measuring aircraft building progress by weight.” – Bill Gates
  10. “Nine people can’t make a baby in a month.” – Fred Brooks
  11. “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
  12. “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
  13. “Before software can be reusable it first has to be usable.” – Ralph Johnson

91 responses to “Top 13 Funny Software Development Quotes

  1. “Any fool can use a computer. Many do.”
    (Ted Nelson)

  2. @durgs: Ah, yes, you’d expect the Father of Hypertext and Teledildonics to have something funny on the matter. The above would be his best one.

    Thanks.

  3. 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

  4. Nice Quotes, enjoyed reading!

    I’m not totally sure, but i think Quote No.6 is also from Gerald Weinberg’s book ‘Systems Thinking’ …

    Greetings

    Mario

  5. That is a really nice collection of quotes. My fav ones are 8 and 10.

    There is one that I always like:

    There are 10 kinds of people in the world, those who can read binary and those who cannot.
    — AUTHOR UNKNOWN

  6. @oldman: An endorsement for slacking from “the K in K&R”?!? Say it ain’t so! :)

    @mario: I’ve seen no.6 attributed to different people; never tracked who was first.

    @sai: I also like no.10 (obviously! it’s in my top list) because however silly it is, it does hammer home the point that you can’t stuff bodies in software development. And, I once almost bought a t-shirt with the extra quote you supplied!

    In fact, the nice things about these particular quotes is not just that they are funny on the surface, but they are based on some smart observation. I’ve used them in many conversations with staff or with project stakeholders.

  7. There is no perfect software, perfect system, perfect language or perfect code block thats the whole reason “exceptions” were introduced and catching them made it into one of best practices.

  8. There is one that I always had in mind(Almost synonymous to Dijkstra):

    “Naturally, a tool for getting rid of bugs in your program is called a ‘debugger’. Mudanely enough, the corresponding tool for putting bugs into your program is called a ‘programmer’.”

    -Simon Cozens

  9. Nice Quotes, enjoyed reading!

    I’m not totally sure, but i think Quote No.6 is also from Gerald Weinberg’s book ‘Systems Thinking’ …
    haber

  10. “Nine people can’t make a baby in a month.”

    I especially liked that one. Many managers think that adding a new developer to a project will automatically reduce the delivery time…

  11. No. 10 works for a lot more than programming. Nice List!

  12. “Nine people can’t make a baby in a month.”

    Very funny, yet frighteningly true.

  13. I like it, it’s funny. Thanks :)

  14. As a former software sales engineer, this is one of my favorites and most true:

    “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)

    101 Great Computer Programming Quotes
    101 More Great Computer Quotes

  15. Favorite:

    Are you getting an ID-10-T error when you try to do that? Write that down: ID10T

  16. “Nine people can’t make a baby in a month.”

    @Pablo – i think this is from Freddy Brooks classical ‘The Mythical Man Month’

    Greetings

    Mario

  17. The baby quote should really be attributed to Wernher von Braun:

    “Crash programs fail because they are based on theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby in a month.”

  18. Another one:
    We have a deal with God – he doesn’t produce software and we do not produce miracles – a software engineer.

  19. The baby quote is great. Here are a few others (although sadly I don’t know of the authors, from other sites they all seem to be anonymous…):

    “Why do we never have time to do it right, but always have time to do it over?” — anonymous developer

    “Software and cathedrals are much the same – first we build them, then we pray” — anon

    “Fast. Good. Cheap. Choose any two” — common project mantra

    And my personal favourite:

    “Better train people and risk they leave – than do nothing and risk they stay” — anon

  20. Another version of #6, often attributed to Yogi Berra:

    In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

  21. “Progress is not made by early risers or hard workers, but by LAZY people, trying to find easier ways to do the same.”

    -Henry Ford

    this should be the international moto of all programmers…

  22. “The bearing of a child takes nine months, no matter how many women are assigned.”

    That is the actual wording from Mythical Man Month.

  23. “Software and cathedrals are much the same – first we build them, then we pray.” – Author Unknown

  24. “It’s not broken… it just doesn’t work.”

    –Ross Sponholtz

  25. One of my favorites:

    “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 S. Borenstein

  26. But it works on my machine!

  27. Mathew Duafala

    You forgot an oldy but goody.

    “Software written here.
    Good, Fast, Cheap. Pick any two.”

  28. Programmers are tools for converting cafeine into code…

  29. “What’s the problem?
    That shouldn’t happen.
    That doesn’t happen on my machine.
    Oh, I see what the problem is.
    How did that ever work?”

  30. @Fons:
    the original caffeine quote is actually about mathematicians, and it was popularized by Paul Erdős.

  31. There are other two I’d like to add (but don’t remember the guys that said this):

    “If you have a problem, and you think the solution is using regular expressions, then you have two problems”

    “Any problem in computer programming can be solved by adding another layer of indirection”

  32. “Programming is like sex: one mistake and you have to support it for the
    rest of your life.”
    –Michael Sinz

    “Software is like sex: it’s better when it’s free.”
    –Linus Torvalds

  33. Cool. That made me laugh, thanks!

  34. How about ‘Users don’t know what they want until you give them what they asked for’.

  35. “Walking on water and developing software from a specification are easy if both are frozen.”
    – Edward V. Berard

  36. “People in the computer industry use the word “user”, which to them means “idiot”. ”
    – Dave Barry

  37. Restart the Tomcat and clean the project,clear the cache……goosh the error has not gone !!!!!

  38. THANKS FOR YOUR CONTRIBUTION TO THE INTERNETS! WHERE WOULD WE BE WITHOUT THIS CLONE OF A REPRODUCTION OF A COPY OF A LIST OF STUFF, NONE OF WHICH YOU WROTE APART FROM THE CRAP AT THE BEGINNING! YOU ARE ONE CRAZY SMB CIO GANGSTA BLOGGA!

  39. Press any key to continue?

    Where’s the Any key?

  40. @Tima: Please go ahead and tell me how to entertain you better. I did not realize that we (the “Internets peoples”) were all here to please you specifically. Sorry I didn’t measure up. Would love to hear back from you…

  41. “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.” – unknown

  42. #12: LSD wasn’t invented at Berkeley, but came from a swiss prof…sorry to say that…

    @anon: No apologies necessary. I think the quote refers to where LSD was “popularized” and brought into mainstream awareness, not where it was originally discovered.

  43. nice list! great. I think i seriously pissed off my followers on twitter because i had to tweet nearly every one!

    another great list:
    http://stackoverflow.com/questions/58640/great-programming-quotes (via @pudo)

    keep it going paul!

    @tima get lost (although in some cases he might be right)

  44. @Oliver: Thanks. I think with near-50 comments, and only one anger-management-deficient commenter, that’s not bad at all! (Hey, it’s all in admittedly unoriginal fun. I didn’t actually think I was up for a Pulitzer…)

  45. Software is not complete..untill the last user is dead…

  46. It’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

  47. Somebody posted this one on my blog the other day:

    “Most programmers are very intelligent and highly skilled arrogant idiots who do not listen to anyone”

    — mike acker ( from http://talkback.zdnet.com/5208-12353-0.html?forumID=1&threadID=61069&messageID=1125619 )

  48. Software is either testable or detestable.

  49. Rakhitha Karunarathne

    I found this in a mail some time ago don’t know the author.

    “In theory it does not work and we know why.
    In practice it works but we don’t know why.
    We developers put theory in to practice, It does not work and we don’t know why.”

  50. “Are you in a hurry or may I use the computer?”

  51. Every program has at least one bug and can be shortened by at least one instruction – from which, by induction, one can deduce that every program can be reduced to one instruction which doesn’t work.
    – someone from Bell Labs (maybe Ken Thompson or Dennis Ritchie?)

  52. I think most people just make the mistake that it should be simple to design simple things. In reality, the effort required to design something is inversely proportional to the simplicity of the result.

    -Roy Fielding

  53. “Torture the data long enough and it will confess to anything”, when it comes to bias statistics – Intel Dept & Chuck Missler.

  54. About #10:

    Nine people can’t make a baby in a month

    Well, they could if at least one of them was pregnant since more than 8 months ago.
    :P

    Nice list, I enjoyed it. And also the comments.
    Thanks.

  55. For most problems there is a simple solution that usually does not work.

    author unknown

  56. Nice Information………….thnks

  57. Nice Collection and post..

  58. Paul Holloway

    Good post. Two of my favorites:

    “The three chief virtues of a programmer are: Laziness, Impatience and Hubris.” – Larry Wall, in the glossary of the first Programming Perl book.

    “Don’t anthropomorphize computers – they hate it.” ~Author Unknown

  59. Thanks for the information..nice list :D

  60. Check out http://www.SoftwareQuotes.com – it is site full of quoations about programming!

  61. “Software and cathedrals are much the same – first we build them, then we pray,” is a quote from Samuel T. Redwine, Jr. made at 4th International Software Process Workshop and published in Proceedings of the 4th International Software Process Workshop, Moretonhampstead, U.K., 11-13 May 1988.

  62. @Hakon: I don’t want millions of them, just the best ones! :)

  63. The issue seems to be somewhere between the keyboard and the chair.

  64. 7 and 10 are my favorites :)

  65. It’s really nice quotes……
    8th one is simply superb…..

  66. Pingback: 13 great software devs quotes | Some More Bytes

  67. Dinesh Arora

    “Any fool can crack software interview, for the consistent billing of software company, interviewer must know whom to select.”
    — Dinesh Arora.

  68. nice quotes!

    you know one thing who is the number one idiot in a software i.e the users
    because they only using our software but they don’t no really we
    are using them,using them,using them……

  69. ‘Software is like sex: it’s better when it’s free’

  70. “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.” lolss…

    Author – unknown..

  71. Obfuscated

    2 and 7 are the best.

    heres another 1.

    “Theory is when you know something, but it doesn’t work. Practice is when something works, but you don’t know why. Programmers combine theory and practice: Nothing works and they don’t know why.” – author unknown

  72. Laugh out loud article. Very entertaining.

  73. thanks, Paul, for the really fun list. and thanks as well to Timm for providing a list of lists with this list, which must mean that we exist within a data structure in a LISP program

    how about this one:

    “things are in the saddle, and ride mankind”

    – Ralph Waldo Emerson

  74. “My software never has bug, it’s just developing a random features.”

    Thanks
    Avi

  75. The internet is the biggest net than spider.

  76. My all time favorite, although I can’t find the original source.

    “You know, when you have a program that does something really cool, and you wrote it from scratch, and it took a significant part of your life, you grow fond of it. When it’s finished, it feels like some kind of amorphous sculpture that you’ve created. It has an abstract shape in your head that’s completely independent of its actual purpose. Elegant, simple, beautiful.

    Then, only a year later, after making dozens of pragmatic alterations to suit the people who use it, not only has your Venus-de-Milo lost both arms, she also has a giraffe’s head sticking out of her chest and a cherubic penis that squirts colored water into a plastic bucket. The romance has become so painful that each day you struggle with an overwhelming urge to smash the fucking thing to pieces with a hammer.”

    – Nick Foster (“Life as a programmer”)

  77. Hemant Metalia

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

  78. Nice.. i like the 8th one..
    add one more:
    “”First learn computer science and all the theory. Next develop a programming style. Then forget all that and just hack.””

  79. “First learn computer science and all the theory. Next develop a programming style. Then forget all that and just hack.”
    – George Carrette

  80. Hardware runs on smoke. Once the smoke is released, the hardware stops working.

  81. great quotes….

  82. The three chief virtues of a programmer are: Laziness, Impatience and Hubris.**

    Larry Wall

  83. Awesome….:)….

  84. K.Yohan Krishnan

    Nice one of the funny quotes! :)
    Bad programmers write programs that only computer understands, but good programmers write programs that human can understand too.

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