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Quotes of the day: Computers
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Published Tuesday, February 02, 2016 @ 11:19 PM EST
Feb 02 2016

(A) computer is a stupid machine with the ability to do incredibly smart things, while computer programmers are smart people with the ability to do incredibly stupid things. They are, in short, a perfect match.
-Bill Bryson

(The computer) industry is running away from us faster than we can run to keep up with it.
-Variously attributed

A computer cuts your work in half and gives you back the bloody stumps.
-Variously attributed

A computer does not substitute for judgment any more than a pencil substitutes for literacy. But writing without a pencil is no particular advantage.
-Robert McNamara

A computer is essentially a trained squirrel: acting on reflex, thoughtlessly running back and forth and storing away nuts until some other stimulus makes it do something else.
-Ted Nelson

A computer is only as good as the people who are employed to replace the people who were made redundant by the computer.
-Variously attributed

A computer lets you make more mistakes faster than any invention in human history with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila.
-Mitch Ratcliffe

A computer once beat me at chess, but it was no match for me at kick boxing.
-Emo Philips

A computer would deserve to be called intelligent if it could deceive a human into believing that it was human.
-Alan Turing

A distributed system is one in which the failure of a computer you didn't even know existed can render your own computer unusable.
-Leslie Lamport

A human must turn information into intelligence or knowledge. We've tended to forget that no computer will ever ask a new question.
-Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

A modern computer hovers between the obsolescent and the nonexistent.
-Sydney Brenner

A new computer printer can produce two hundred and fifty pages a minute. It certainly cuts down on the paperwork.
-S.J. Wilcox

All programmers are playwrights and all computers are lousy actors.
-Variously attributed

All that is required for evil to triumph is... users.
-Unattributed computer systems manager

An idiot with a computer is a faster, better idiot.
-Rich Julius

Any idiot can use a computer. Many do.
-Variously attributed

Any problem in computer science can be solved with another layer of indirection. But that usually will create another problem.
-David Wheeler

Any research done on how to efficiently use computers has been long lost in the mad rush to upgrade systems to do things that aren't needed by people who don't understand what they are really supposed to do with them.
-Graham Reed

Artificial intelligence is the study of how to make real computers act like the ones in movies.
-Variously attributed

As far as we know, our computer has never had an undetected error.
-Variously attributed

As practiced by computer science, the study of programming is an unholy mixture of mathematics, literary criticism, and folklore.
-B.A. Sheil

Asking if computers can think is like asking if submarines can swim.
-Variously attributed

At the source of every error which is blamed on the computer you will find at least two human errors, including the error of blaming it on the computer.
-Variously attributed

Bad command or file name. Good typing, though. (Computer error message)
-Variously attributed

Bad things come in threes. However, when dealing with computers, the fourth thing is always the start of the next group of three.
-Variously attributed

Being afraid of monolithic organizations, especially when they have computers, is like being afraid of really big gorillas, especially when they are on fire.
-Bruce Sterling

Brains don't manufacture thoughts in the direct ways that muscles exert forces or ovaries make estrogens; instead, to get a good idea, one must engage huge organizations of sub-machines that do a vast variety of jobs. Each human cranium contains hundreds of kinds of computers, developed over hundreds of millions of years of evolution, each with a somewhat different structure.
-Marvin Minsky

Computer languages of the future will be more concerned with goals and less with procedures specified by the programmer.
-Marvin Minsky

Computer Science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.
-E.W. Djikstra

Computer Science: A study akin to numerology and astrology, but lacking the precision of the former and the success of the latter.
-Stan Kelly-Bootle

Computer: a million morons working at the speed of light.
-David Ferrier

Computers are like Old Testament gods; lots of rules and no mercy.
-Joseph Campbell

Computers are man's attempt at designing a cat: it does whatever it wants, whenever it wants, and rarely ever at the right time.
-Variously attributed

Computers are such time-saving devices. In fact, I've just spent the last three years trying to print out an envelope.
-Elayne Boosler

Computers can do better than ever what needn't be done at all. Making sense is still a human monopoly.
-Marshall McLuhan

Computers can now keep a man's every transgression recorded in a permanent memory bank, duplicating with complex programming and intricate wiring a feat his wife handles quite well without fuss or fanfare.
-Lane Olinghouse

Computers can still barely open a printer port, much less the pod bay doors.
-Lee Gomes

Computers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of the things they make it easier to do don't need to be done.
-Andy Rooney

Culturally speaking, mathematicians are about as close to living and breathing aliens as you'll ever see. Weirder than stoners, weirder than computer hackers, weirder than SF fans. My people.
-Rudy Rucker

Definition of expert: x as in unknown, spurt as in drip under pressure. (From Computerworld)
-Variously attributed

Don't anthropomorphize computers. They hate it when you do that.
-Variously attributed

Don't explain computers to laymen. Simpler to explain sex to virgins.
-Robert A. Heinlein

Electronic computers are intended to carry out any definite rule of thumb process which could have been done by a human operator working in a disciplined but unintelligent manner.
-Alan Turing

Enter any eleven-digit prime number to continue. (Computer command prompt)
-Variously attributed

Every time you turn on your new car, you're turning on 20 microprocessors. Every time you use an ATM, you're using a computer. Every time I use a set top box or game machine, I'm using a computer. The only computer you don't know how to work is your Microsoft computer, right?
-Scott McNealy

Fast, fat computers breed slow, lazy programmers.
-Robert Hummel

Giving a man space is like giving a dog a computer. The chances are he will not use it wisely.
-Betty Jean Rafael

Google, Amazon, Apple. Any number of cloud providers and computer service providers who can increasingly limit your access to your own information, control all your processing, take away your data if they want to, and observe everything you do; in a way, that does give them some leverage over your own life.
-John Perry Barlow

Having a computer is like having a small, silicon version of Gary Busey on your desk. You never know what's going to happen.
-Bill Maher

Home computers are being called upon to perform many new functions, including the consumption of homework formerly eaten by the dog.
-Doug Larson

Human happiness and human satisfaction must ultimately come from within oneself. It is wrong to expect some final satisfaction to come from money or from a computer.
-Tenzin Gyatso (The 14th Dalai Lama)

I don't care how big and fast computers are, they're not as big and fast as the world.
-Herbert Simon

I have a computer, a vibrator and pizza delivery. Why should I leave the house?
-Variously attributed

I have always wished that my computer would be as easy to use as my telephone. My wish has come true. I no longer know how to use my telephone.
-Bjarne Stroustrup

I like computers. I like the Internet. It's a tool that can be used. But don't be misled into thinking that these technologies are anything other than aspects of a degenerate economic system.
-Jerry Brown

I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.
-Stephen Hawking

I see a bright future for the biotechnology industry when it follows the path of the computer industry, the path that von Neumann failed to foresee, becoming small and domesticated rather than big and centralized.
-Freeman Dyson

I see the player piano as the grandfather of the computer, the ancestor of the entire nightmare we live in, the birth of the binary world where there is no option other than yes or no and where there is no refuge.
-William Gaddis

I think computer viruses should count as life. I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We've created life in our own image.
-Stephen Hawking

I think everyone in this country should learn to program a computer. Everyone should learn a computer language because it teaches you how to think. I think of computer science as a liberal art.
-Steve Jobs

I'm personally convinced that computer science has a lot in common with physics. Both are about how the world works at a rather fundamental level. The difference, of course, is that while in physics you're supposed to figure out how the world is made up, in computer science you create the world. Within the confines of the computer, you're the creator. You get to ultimately control everything that happens. If you're good enough, you can be God. On a small scale.
-Linus Torvalds

If moral behavior were simply following rules, we could program a computer to be moral.
-Samuel P. Ginder

If you don't know how to do something, you don't know how to do it with a computer.
-Variously attributed

If you put tomfoolery into a computer, nothing comes out but tomfoolery. But this tomfoolery, having passed through a very expensive machine, is somehow ennobled, and no one dares to criticize it.
-Pierre Gallois

Imagine if every Thursday your shoes exploded if you tied them the usual way. This happens to us all the time with computers, and nobody thinks of complaining.
-Jeff Raskin

In a way, staring into a computer screen is like staring into an eclipse. It's brilliant and you don't realize the damage until it's too late.
-Bruce Sterling

In computer science, we stand on each other's feet.
-Brian K. Reid

In pioneer days they used oxen for heavy pulling, and when one ox couldn't budge a log, they didn't try to grow a larger ox. We shouldn't be trying for bigger computers, but for more systems of computers.
-Admiral Grace Murray Hopper

In the computer business, there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and benchmarks.
-Variously attributed

In the computer field, the moment of truth is a running program; all else is prophecy.
-Herbert Simon

It might seem easy enough, but computer language design is just like a stroll in the park. Jurassic Park, that is.
-Larry Wall

It would appear that we have reached the limits of what it is possible to achieve with computer technology, although one should be careful with such statements, as they tend to sound pretty silly in five years.
-John von Neumann

It's possible to program a computer in English. It's also possible to make an airplane controlled by reins and spurs.
-John McCarthy

Making duplicate copies and computer printouts of things no one wanted even one of in the first place is giving America a new sense of purpose.
-Andy Rooney

Man is the best computer we can put aboard a spacecraft... and the only one that can be mass produced with unskilled labor.
-Wernher von Braun

Memory is like an orgasm. It's a lot better if you don't have to fake it. (re: computer virtual memory)
-Seymour Cray

Most undergraduate degrees in computer science these days are basically Java vocational training.
-Alan Kay

My first impulse, when presented with any spanking-new piece of computer hardware, is to imagine how it will look in ten years' time, gathering dust under a card table in a thrift shop
-William Gibson

My perception was/is that while the rest of the computer world was striving for Fault Tolerant Software, Microsoft was working on Fault Tolerant Users.
-John Robinson

Never ask what sort of computer a guy drives. If he's a Mac user, he'll tell you. If not, why embarrass him?
-Tom Clancy

Never let a computer know you're in a hurry.
-Variously attributed

Never tell a computer to forget it.
-Larry Niven

Never trust a computer you can't throw out a window.
-Steve Wozniak

No computer has ever been designed that is ever aware of what it's doing; but most of the time, we aren't either.
-Marvin Minsky

Not even computers will replace committees, because committees buy computers.
-Edward Shepherd Mead

Once a computer achieves human intelligence it will necessarily roar past it.
-Ray Kurzweil

Once the computers got control, we might never get it back. We would survive at their sufferance. If we're lucky, they might decide to keep us as pets.
-Marvin Minsky

Part of the inhumanity of the computer is that, once it is competently programmed and working smoothly, it is completely honest.
-Isaac Asimov

PCMCIA stands for either Personal Computer Memory Card International Association or People Can't Memorize Computer Industry Acronyms.
-Variously attributed

Read, read, read and put away computers. Forget the Internet, that's all crap.
-Ray Bradbury

Reading computer manuals without the hardware is as frustrating as reading sex manuals without the software. In both cases the cure is simple though usually very expensive.
-Arthur C. Clarke

Science is everything we understand well enough to explain to a computer. Art is everything else.
-Donald Knuth

Science is to computer science as hydrodynamics is to plumbing.
-Stan Kelly-Bootle

Technological man can't believe in anything that can't be measured, taped, or put into a computer.
-Clare Boothe Luce

Telling computer guys that they need to have permission to quote things is like having to tell little children about Death.
-Ted Nelson

That's the thing about people who think they hate computers. What they really hate is lousy programmers.
-Jerry Pournelle

The British don't make computers because they never figured out how to make them leak oil.
-Variously attributed

The Buddha resides as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain.
-Robert Pirsig

The computer industry has frequently borrowed from mythology: Witness the sprites in computer graphics, the demons in artificial intelligence, and the trolls in the marketing department.
-Jeff Meyer

The computer industry is a chicken on growth hormones, sloshing around in a nutrient bath with its head cut off.
-Peter Sugarman

The computer is a moron.
-Peter Drucker

The computer revolution hasn't started yet. Don't be misled by the enormous flow of money into bad defacto standards for unsophisticated buyers using poor adaptations of incomplete ideas.
-Alan Kay

The computer saves man a lot of guesswork, but so does the bikini.
-Evan Esar

The computer should be doing the hard work. That's what it's paid to do, after all.
-Larry Wall

The difference between e-mail and regular mail is that computers handle e-mail, and computers never decide to come to work one day and shoot all the other computers.
-Jamais Cascio

The entire body of computer science can be viewed as nothing more than the development of efficient methods for the storage, transportation, encoding, and rendering of pornography.
-Variously attributed

The first time a person gets a screwdriver, he's going to go around the house tightening all the screws, whether they need it or not. There's no reason a computer will not be similarly abused.
-Theodore K. Robb

The goal of Computer Science is to build something that will last at least until we've finished building it.
-Variously attributed

The idea behind digital computers may be explained by saying that these machines are intended to carry out any operations which could be done by a human computer.
-Alan Turing

The most likely way for the world to be destroyed, most experts agree, is by accident. That's where we come in; we're computer professionals. We cause accidents.
-Nathaniel Borenstein

The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.
-Edward R. Murrow

The only thing God didn't do to Job was give him a computer.
-I.F. Stone

The only truly portable computer language is profanity.
-Variously attributed

The personal computer... went to individuals first before it went to corporations... The corporations are sitting, wishing this whole friggin' thing (electric cars) to go away. Which is exactly what the computer companies' attitude was to personal computers.
-Andrew Grove

The protean nature of the computer is such that it can act like a machine or like a language to be shaped and exploited.
-Alan Kay

The Web brings people together because no matter what kind of a twisted sexual mutant you happen to be, you've got millions of pals out there. Type in 'Find people that have sex with goats that are on fire' and the computer will ask, 'Specify type of goat.'
-Richard Jeni

The whole history of computers is rampant with cheerleading at best and bigotry at worst.
-Larry Wall

The world is just filling up with more and more idiots! And the computer is giving them access to the world! They're spreading their stupidity! At least they were contained before- now they're on the loose everywhere!
-Harlan Ellison

There are more computers running Windows than VMS. There are also more cockroaches than humans.
-Variously attributed

There are two kinds of computer users: those who have lost data and those who will lose data.
-Variously attributed

There is a computer disease that anybody who works with computers knows about. It's a very serious disease and it interferes completely with the work. The trouble with computers is that you play with them.
-Richard P. Feynman

There is no data to support that computers make business more productive... most companies have merely found faster and cheaper ways to do dumb things.
-Gary Loveman

This computer makes me all frowny with pure nougat-filled hatred!
-Jhonen Vasquez

Unlike human beings, computers possess the truly profound stupidity of the inanimate.
-Bruce Sterling

Usenet is like Tetris for people who still remember how to read. (Button from the Computer Museum, Boston, MA)
-Variously attributed

We are reaching the stage where the problems we must solve are going to become insoluble without computers. I do not fear computers. I fear the lack of them.
-Isaac Asimov

We build our computer (systems) the way we build our cities: over time, without a plan, on top of ruins.
-Ellen Ullman

What the Internet has done is let us know how many millions of Americans can afford a computer, but haven't yet mastered that tricky 'your- you're' thing.
-John Fugelsang

What we need is a president who is at least twelve kinds of nerd, a nerd messiah to come along every four years, acquire the Secret Service code name Poindexter, install a Revenge of the Nerds screen saver on the Oval Office computer, and one by one decrypt our woes.
-Sarah Vowell

When I see an old movie, like from the '40s or '50s or '60s, the people look so calm. They don't have smart phones, they're not looking at computer screens, they're taking their time. They'll sit in a chair and just stare off into space. I think some day we'll find our way back to that garden of Eden.
-Rudy Rucker

Whom computers would destroy, they must first drive mad.
-Variously attributed

Why is it drug addicts and computer aficionados are both called users?
-Clifford Stoll

Without software, a computer is just a lump of plastic- whereas with software, it's a lump of plastic that can permanently destroy critical data.
-Dave Barry

Writing is a slow and a difficult process mentally. How you physically render the words onto a screen or a page doesn't help you. I'll give you this example. When words had to be carved into stone, with a chisel, you got the Ten Commandments. When the quill pen had been invented and you had to chase a goose around the yard and sharpen the pen and boil some ink and so on, you got Shakespeare. When the fountain pen came along, you got Henry James. When the typewriter came along, you got Jack Kerouac. And now that we have the computer, we have Facebook. Are you seeing a trend here?
-P.J. O'Rourke

XML is crap. Really. There are no excuses. XML is nasty to parse for humans, and it's a disaster to parse even for computers. There's just no reason for that horrible crap to exist.
-Linus Torvalds

You can test a person's importance in the organization by asking how much RAM his computer has. Anyone who knows the answer to that question is not a decision maker.
-Scott Adams


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