Quotes about programming languages

What computer scientists, authors and programmers think of popular programming languages.

All languages

Tony Hoare quote about programming languages
"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."
Tony (C.A.R.) Hoare.
Computing professor, implemented Algol 60, searcher at Microsoft Research.

Algol 60 (Then taken in C)

"I couldn't resist the temptation to put in a null reference, simply because it was so easy to implement. This has led to innumerable errors, vulnerabilities, and system crashes, which have probably caused a billion dollars of pain and damage in the last forty years."
Tony (C.A.R.) Hoare.


"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 in "How do we tell truths that might hurt?".
Edsger Wybe Dijkstra contributed to the first Algol 60 compiler. Known for the Disjkstra algorithm and numerous contributions to computer science.


"A C program is like a fast dance on a newly waxed dance floor by people carrying razors."
Waldi Ravens. Programmer.

"In My Egotistical Opinion, most people's C programs should be indented six feet downward and covered with dirt."
Blair P. Houghton. Programmer.

"Going from programming in Pascal to programming in C, is like learning to write in Morse code."
J.P. Candusso. Programmer.

"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."
Robert Firth. Author of programming books.

"Writing in C or C++ is like running a chain saw with all the safety guards removed."
Bob Gray. Author.

"It's 5.50 a.m.... Do you know where your stack pointer is?"


"C makes it easy to shoot yourself in the foot. In C++ it's harder, but when you do, you blow off your whole leg."
Bjarne Stroustrup. Creator of C++.

"The evolution of languages: FORTRAN is a non-typed language. C is a weakly typed language. Ada is a strongly typed language. C++ is a strongly hyped language."
Ron Sercely. Programmer.

"I invented the term 'Object-Oriented', and I can tell you I did not have C++ in mind."
Alan Kay. Creator of Smalltalk.

"The latest new features in C++ are designed to fix the previously new features in C++."
David Jameson. Author.

"Fifty years of programming language research, and we end up with C++ ?"
Richard A. O'Keefe. Computer scientist.

"Ever spend a little time reading comp.lang.c++ ? That's really the best place to learn about the number of C++ users looking for a better language."
R. William Beckwith.

"C++ has its place in the history of programming languages. Just as Caligula has his place in the history of the Roman Empire."
Robert Firth.

"Java is C++ without the guns, knives, and clubs."
James Gosling, co-inventor of Java.

"C++ is an horrible language. Even if the choice of C were to do *nothing* but keep the C++ programmers out, that in itself would be a huge reason to use C."
Linus Torvalds, inventor of Linux.


"The use of COBOL cripples the mind; its teaching should therefore be regarded as a criminal offense."
E.W. Dijkstra in "How do we tell truths that might hurt?".


"FORTRAN is not a flower but a weed — it is hardy, occasionally blooms, and grows in every computer."
Alan J. Perlis. Computer scientist and professor (Yale).

"FORTRAN, the infantile disorder, by now nearly 20 years old, is hopelessly inadequate for whatever computer application you have in mind today: it is now too clumsy, too risky, and too expensive to use."
E. W. Dijkstra.

"FORTRAN was the language of choice for the same reason that three-legged races are popular."
Ken Thompson. Co-creator of B, Unix, Plan 9 and the Go programming language.


"If Java had true garbage collection, most programs would delete themselves upon execution."
Robert Sewell. Programmer.


"Lisp isn't a language, it's a building material."
Alan Kay.


"Perl is the only language that looks the same before and after RSA encryption."
Keith Bostic. Programmer, created Sleepycat, contributed to free BSD unices.


"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. Programmer.

Bash and other shells

"It is easier to port a shell than a shell script."
Larry Wall. Creator of Perl.

And finally...

"There are only two kinds of programming languages: those people always bitch about and those nobody uses.”
Bjarne Stroustrup.

Unfortunately, I believe he is right. However, there have always been two schools, one for clear and safe languages (Pascal, and then scripting languages) and the other for languages facilitating hacking but with random results.