Paul Graham's Quotes

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The following is a list of quotes by Paul Graham. Graham (born 13 November 1964) is an English computer scientist , venture capitalist, technology entrepreneur and essayist.


Quotes[1]


If you do everything the way the average startup does it, you should expect average performance. The problem here is, average performance means that you'll go out of business. The survival rate for startups is way less than fifty percent. So if you're running a startup, you had better be doing something odd. If not, you're in trouble.

  • Beating the Averages , paulgraham.com, April 2001, rev. April 2003


Everyone knows it's a mistake to write your whole program by hand in machine language. What's less often understood is that there is a more general principle here: that if you have a choice of several languages, it is, all other things being equal, a mistake to program in anything but the most powerful one.

  • Beating the Averages , paulgraham.com, April 2001, rev. April 2003


By induction, the only programmers in a position to see all the differences in power between the various languages are those who understand the most powerful one.

  • Beating the Averages , paulgraham.com, April 2001, rev. April 2003


It's the nature of programming languages to make most people satisfied with whatever they currently use. Computer hardware changes so much faster than personal habits that programming practice is usually ten to twenty years behind the processor.

  • Beating the Averages , paulgraham.com, April 2001, rev. April 2003


Ordinarily technology changes fast. But programming languages are different: programming languages are not just technology, but what programmers think in. They're half technology and half religion.

  • Beating the Averages , paulgraham.com, April 2001, rev. April 2003


Historically, languages designed for other people to use have been bad: Cobol, PL/I, Pascal, Ada, C++. The good languages have been those that were designed for their own creators: C, Perl, Smalltalk, Lisp.

  • Java's Cover, paulgraham.com, April 2001


The best programming languages have been developed by small groups. Java seems to be run by a committee. If it turns out to be a good language, it will be the first time in history that a committee has designed a good language.

  • Java's Cover, paulgraham.com, April 2001


Historically, languages designed for large organizations (PL/I, Ada) have lost, while hacker languages (C, Perl) have won. The reason: today's teenage hacker is tomorrow's CTO.

  • Java's Cover, paulgraham.com, April 2001


It may seem cavalier to dismiss a language before you've even tried writing programs in it. But this is something all programmers have to do. There are too many technologies out there to learn them all. You have to learn to judge by outward signs which will be worth your time.

  • Java's Cover, paulgraham.com, April 2001


Programming languages are for hackers, and a programming language is good as a programming language (rather than, say, an exercise in denotational semantics or compiler design) if and only if hackers like it.

  • Being Popular, paulgraham.com, May 2001


Given an initial critical mass and enough time, a programming language probably becomes about as popular as it deserves to be. And popularity further separates good languages from bad ones, because feedback from real live users always leads to improvements.

  • Being Popular, paulgraham.com, May 2001


So whether or not a language has to be good to be popular, I think a language has to be popular to be good. And it has to stay popular to stay good. The state of the art in programming languages doesn't stand still. And yet the Lisps we have today are still pretty much what they had at MIT in the mid-1980s, because that's the last time Lisp had a sufficiently large and demanding user base.

  • Being Popular, paulgraham.com, May 2001


To become popular, a programming language has to be the scripting language of a popular system.

  • Being Popular, paulgraham.com, May 2001


Brevity is one place where strongly typed languages lose. All other things being equal, no one wants to begin a program with a bunch of declarations. Anything that can be implicit, should be.

  • Being Popular, paulgraham.com, May 2001


The latest hot language, Python, is a watered-down Lisp with infix syntax and no macros. A new Lisp would be a natural step in this progression.

  • Being Popular, paulgraham.com, May 2001


Given an initial critical mass and enough time, a programming language probably becomes about as popular as it deserves to be. And popularity further separates good languages from bad ones, because feedback from real live users always leads to improvements.

  • Being Popular, paulgraham.com, May 2001
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