Scientific American Science and Technology Awards 2004
Scientific American Likes Our Site
• Astronomy
• Darwin
• Chemistry
• Cloning
• Computers
• Dinosaurs
• Volcanoes
• Psychology
• Einstein
• Kids
• Math
• Medicine
• Physics
• Tornadoes
• New Jokes
• Miscellany

Home Computer Experiments Cpmputer Fair Projects

Computer and Internet Jokes

"640K ought to be enough for anybody."
Bill Gates, 1981.

Q: What is one byte?
A: Eight beets.

A computer salesman, a hardware engineer, and a software engineer are driving in a car together. Suddenly the right rear tire blows out, and the car rolls to a stop. Our three heroes pile out to investigate.

The salesman announces sadly, "Time to buy a new car!"

Says the hardware engineer, "Well, first let's try swapping the front and rear tires, and see if that fixes it."

Replies the software engineer, "Now, let's just try driving the car again, and maybe the problem will go away by itself."

...about the doctor, engineer, and programmer who were debating what the world's oldest profession was. The doctor said that medicine was the oldest because the Lord performed surgery in the removal of Adam's rib. The engineer countered that before that act, the Lord had performed feats of engineering by creating the earth and heavens from nothing.

The doctor conceded that the engineer was right and that engineering was indeed the oldest profession. But then the programmer interjected that programming was even older. He was chided by both the doctor and the engineer saying that engineering had to be the oldest, because before the Lord engineered the earth and heavens, there was nothing, only the Great Void, only Chaos!

The programmer simply smiled and said: "Where do you think the Chaos came from?"

Charles Babbage (1792-1871)

British mathematician and inventor, who designed and built mechanical computing machines on principles that anticipated the modern electronic computer. Babbage's concepts led to the modern computer and earned him the title "father of the computer".
In the 1820s, Babbage began developing his Difference Engine, a mechanical device that was supposed to mechanize the production of mathematical tables. Babbage started to build his Difference Engine, but was unable to complete it because of a lack of funding.
In the 1830s, Babbage began developing his Analytical Engine, which was designed to carry out more complicated calculations, but this device was never built.

More about Charles Babbage's Life and Work

Q: What's the difference between a car salesman and a computer salesman?
A: The car salesman can probably drive!

Computer Stories from a Field Service Engineer

When I worked for a company that had a contract with 3M, 3M had asked me to write them a memo describing why we were having problems with diskette failures. I said in the memo that the disks were failing due to head crashes. "If the customers would just clean their heads periodically, we wouldn't have these problems," I said in the memo. One customer responded with "What kind of shampoo do you recommend?"

An end-user hotline received a call about a bad software disk. They asked the customer to make a copy of the disk and mail it in to the hotline. A few days later, they received a letter with a mimeographed copy of the disk. Since it was a double-sided disk, both sides of the disk had been xeroxed.

A Computer Operator says as she is lifting an RP06 disk pack from the drive: "Gee, how much does one of these weigh?" Me: "It depends on how much data is on the disk.... The operator believed it.

This definition of "compiler" must rank as the BEST of the possible wrong answers. Written by a student in a introductory Computer Science course.

"A compiler's primary function is to compile, organize the compilation, and go right back to compiling. It compiles basically only those things that require to be compiled, ignoring things that should not be compiled. The main way a compiler compiles, is to compile the things to be compiled until the compilation is complete."

Only in America.....

Q: How does Bill Gates get fresh air into his mansion?
A: One clicks on an icon, and a window opens!

Bill Gates is building a new massive mansion, most of it underground. I guess he is doing this because he doesn't want to spend another dime on Windows.

Two strings walk into a bar and sit down. The bartender says, "So what'll it be?"
The first string says, "I think I'll have a beer quag fulk boorg jdk^CjfdLk jk3s d#f67howe%^U r89nvy~~owmc63^Dz x.xvcu"
"Please excuse my friend," the second string says, "He isn't null-terminated."

I saw this on a blackboard in a CS class and improved upon it.

Q: "How many computer scientists does it take to screw in a light bulb?"
A: "Five. Two write the specifications, one to prove their validity and two to implement it."

Q: "Well, how many hackers does it take?"
A: "One. But, hackers don't turn on the lights."

MS-DOS is like the US rail system. It's there, but people just ignore it and find other ways of getting where they want to go.

I got an announcement recently for a conference on massively parallel computing systems.
They sent me 600 copies.

Here's a little song that was sent to me from a colleague in Rochester, NY:


100 little bugs in the code,
100 bugs in the code,

fix one bug, compile it again,
101 little bugs in the code.

101 little bugs in the code.....

Repeat until BUGS = 0

Charles Babbage's Difference Engine, 1821

The Difference Engine is a mechanical device that was supposed to mechanize the production of mathematical tables. Babbage started to build his Difference Engine, but was unable to complete it because of a lack of funding and because the precision and intricacy required for the construction of his Engine were beyond the capabilities of the technology of the day.
The Difference Engine was not a general purpose machine. It could process numbers entered into it only by adding them in a particular sequence.
The full size Difference Engine required an estimated 25,000 parts which would weigh fifteen tons. The Engine, if completed would have stood eight feet high, seven feet long and three feet in depth.
In 1991 British scientists, following Babbage's detailed drawings and specifications, constructed the Difference Engine. The machine works flawlessly, calculating up to a precision of 31 digits, proving that Babbage's design was sound.

View the History of Computers in Pictures

(to the tune of 100 Bottles of Beer)

100 buckets of bits on the bus
100 buckets of bits
take one down (short it to ground)
FF buckets of bits on the bus
FF buckets of bits on the bus
FF buckets of bits
take one down (short it to ground)
FE buckets of bits on the bus

Beautiful Program
(to Beautiful Dreamer)
by Sarah Elizabeth Miller & Abe Friedman

Beautiful program
Please run for me.
I've tried you in BASIC,
Beautiful program,
You've errors galore.
And each time I run you,
You're swapped out of core.
[Alternate: There's thirty-five more]

COBOL Programmer's Swing
(to the tune of Washington & Lee Swing)
by Bill Laubenheimer

A COBOL program never turns out right
Though you may labor far into the night
And though you work until your dying day
It never will be quite okay-ay-ay-ay-ay
And when you think that all the bugs are gone
The fact is you are likely very wrong
And when you finally have it going straight (going straight)
It's .... too .... late!!!

I've Got a Lovely Computer
I've got a lovely computer,
But it's got only two K!
I'd better add some more mem'ry
Before it crashes today!
I've got a lovely computer,
And now it's up to one meg.
But if it don't run any faster,
I'll have to buy me a keg!!
I've got a lovely computer,
and now it's up to four gigs.
It runs so fast and so smooth now,
I'll go and dance me a jig!


Imagine there's no Windows,
It's easy if you try,
No bugs annoy us,
Completely free to try.
Imagine all the people
giving code away...

Imagine there's no companies,
It isn't hard to do,
Nothing to hack or crack for,
No UNIX too,
Imagine all the people
giving code away...

Imagine no computers,
I wonder if you can,
No need for geek or hacker,
A brotherhood of man,
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a loonie,
But I'm not the only one.
I hope some day you'll join us,
And the world will live as one.

What Is Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is usually defined as the science of making computers do things that require intelligence when done by humans. AI has had some success in limited, or simplified, domains. However, the five decades since the inception of AI have brought only very slow progress, and early optimism concerning the attainment of human-level intelligence has given way to an appreciation of the profound difficulty of the problem.

Learn More about Artificial Intelligence

Food for Thought

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons."
– Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949.

"I think there is a world market for may be five computers."
– Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year."
– The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home."
– Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp.,1977.

"640K ought to be enough for anybody."
– Bill Gates, 1981.


There is not now and never will be a language in which it is the least bit difficult to write bad programs.

"In C we had to code our own bugs. In C++ we can inherit them."

"This is an object-oriented system.
If we change anything, the users object."

There once was a man who went to a computer trade show. Each day as he entered, the man told the guard at the door:
"I am a great thief, renowned for my feats of shoplifting. Be forewarned, for this trade show shall not escape me unplundered."

This speech disturbed the guard greatly, because there were millions of dollars of computer equipment inside, so he watched the man carefully. But the man merely wandered from booth to booth, humming quietly to himself.

When the man left, the guard took him aside and searched his clothes, but nothing was to be found.

On the next day of the trade show, the man returned and chided the guard, saying, "I escaped with a vast booty yesterday, but today will be even better." So the guard watched him ever more closely, but to no avail.

On the final day of the trade show, the guard could restrain his curiosity no longer. "Sir Thief," he said, "I am so perplexed, I cannot live in peace. Please enlighten me. What is it that you are stealing?"

The man smiled. "I am stealing ideas," he said.

A manager went to a master programmer and showed him the requirements document for a new application. The manager asked the master, "How long will it take to design this system if I assign five programmers to it?"
"It will take one year," said the master promptly.
"But we need this system immediately if not sooner! How long will it take if I assign ten programmers to it?"
The master programmer frowned. "In that case, it will take two years."
"And what if I assign a hundred programmers to it?"
The master programmer shrugged. "Then the design will never be completed," he said.

Q: How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Can't be done. It's a hardware problem.

A mathematician, a physicist, an engineer and a computer scientist are given an identical problem: Prove that all odd numbers greater than 2 are prime numbers. They proceed:

Mathematician: 3 is a prime, 5 is a prime, 7 is a prime, 9 is not a prime - counterexample - claim is false.

Physicist: 3 is a prime, 5 is a prime, 7 is a prime, 9 is an experimental error, 11 is a prime, ...

Engineer: 3 is a prime, 5 is a prime, 7 is a prime, 9 is a prime, 11 is a prime, ...

Computer Scientist: 1 is a prime, 1 is a prime, 1 is a prime, 1 is a prime, ...

Yes, they're all primes.

Babbage Analytical Engine, 1834

Unlike the Difference Engine, the Analytical Engine was intended to be a general-purpose machine - it could be “programmed” by the user to execute different instructions in any required order.
The supposed Analytical Engine included almost all the essential logical features of a modern electronic digital computer. The engine was programmable using punched cards (input). It had a "store" where numbers and intermediate results could be held (memory), a separate "mill" where the arithmetic processing was performed (CPU) and a printing mechanism (output).
The Analytical Engine could also perform “loop” operations and conditional - IF, THEN - branching.
The machine was to be powered by a steam engine and would have been over 30 metres long and 10 metres wide.
The machine was realized in part by Babbage’s son.

The Analytical Engine was the beginning,
Artificial Intelligence
is the end.


Adam and Eve Virus
Takes a couple of bytes out of your Apple computer.

Airline Virus
You're in Dallas, but your luggage is in Singapore.

Disney Virus
Everything in your computer goes Goofy.

Oprah Winfrey virus
Your 200MB hard drive suddenly shrinks to 80MB, and then slowly expands to 300MB.

Star Trek Virus
Invades your system in places where no virus has gone before.

Titanic Virus
Your whole computer goes down.

Alzheimer Virus
It makes your computer forget where it put your files.

Child Virus
It constantly does annoying things, but is too cute to get rid of.

Diet Virus
Allows your hard drive to lose weight by eliminating the FAT table.

Is Windows A Virus?

No, Windows is not a virus. Here's what viruses do:

They replicate quickly. (Okay, Windows does that)

Viruses use up valuable system resources, slowing down the system as they do so. (Okay, Windows does that)

Viruses will, from time to time, trash your hard disk. (Okay, Windows does that, too)

Viruses are usually carried, unknown to the user, along with valuable programs and systems. (Sigh... Windows does that, too)

Viruses will occasionally make the user suspect their system is too slow and the user will buy new hardware. (Yup, that's with Windows, too)

Until now it seems, Windows is a virus but there are fundamental differences: Viruses are well supported by their authors, are running on most systems, their program code is fast, compact and efficient and they tend to become more sophisticated as they mature.

So, Windows is not a virus!

Did you hear about the Microsoft Windows programmer who died?
He found himself in front of a committee that decides whether you go to Heaven or Hell.
The committee told the programmer he had some say in the matter and asked him if he wanted to see Heaven and Hell before stating his preference.
"Sure," he said.
So an angel took him to a place with a sunny beach, volleyball, and rock and roll, where everyone was having a great time.
"Wow!" he exclaimed. "Heaven is great!"
"Wrong," said the angel. "That was Hell. Want to see Heaven?"
"Sure!" So the angel took him to another place. Here a bunch of people were sitting in a park playing bingo and feeding dead pigeons.
"This is Heaven?" asked the Windows programmer.
"Yup," said the angel.
"Then I'll take Hell." Instantly he found himself plunged up to his neck in red-hot lava. "Where's the beach? The music? The volleyball?" he screamed frantically to the angel.
"That was the demo," she replied as she vanished.

One day God was looking over creation and He decided that He wasn't really happy with the way things turned out. So He called the three most powerful men on earth, Bill Clinton, Boris Yeltsin and Bill Gates, to come and see Him. He told them that this experiment with life on earth was a failure, and that in three days he was going to end it. So basically they had three days to prepare their people.
So Boris Yeltsin convenes an emergency meeting of the Russian Parliament and says:
"I have bad news, and really bad news. First of all, there is a God. Secondly, everything we have worked for since the revolution will be totally destroyed in three days."
Bill Clinton makes a State of the Union address to the American people on TV and says:
"I have good news and bad news. First of all, there is a God. Secondly, everything we have worked for since the revolution will be destroyed in three days."
Bill Gates convenes a meeting of the board of directors and says:
"I have good news, and really good news. First of all, there is a God, and He spoke to me personally. Secondly, in three days, IBM will be destroyed."

While my brother-in-law was tapping away on his home computer, his ten-year-old daughter sneaked up behind him. Then she turned and ran into the kitchen, squealing to the rest of the family, "I know Daddy's password! I know Daddy's password!"
"What is it? her sisters asked eagerly.
Proudly she replied, "Asterisk, asterisk, asterisk, asterisk, asterisk!"

Compaq is considering changing the command "Press Any Key" to "Press Return Key" because of the many calls asking where the "Any" key is.

Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace (1815-1852)

An English mathematician and the daughter of the famous poet, Lord Byron.
She understood Babbage’s ideas and recognized their great value. Lady Lovelace is sometimes called the first programmer because she also refined the design of Babbage’s Analytical Engine to include the automatic repetition of a series of calculation’s – the loop. This looping procedure is extremely valuable to today’s programmers.
She also suggested using a binary system rather than the decimal system for storage.
After her is named the Ada programming language which was developed in the late 1970s by the Pentagon for military applications.

Learn more about Augusta Ada King

Computer Terms

486 - The average IQ needed to understand a PC.

State-of-the-art - Any computer you can't afford.

Obsolete - Any computer you own.

Microsecond - The time it takes for your state-of-the-art computer to become obsolete.

G3 - Apple's new Macs that make you say "Gee, three times faster than the computer I bought for the same price a Microsecond ago."

Syntax Error - Walking into a computer store and saying, "Hi, I want to buy a computer and money is no object."

Hard Drive - The sales technique employed by computer salesmen, esp. after a Syntax Error.

GUI - What your computer becomes after spilling your coffee on it. (pronounced "gooey")

Keyboard - The standard way to generate computer errors.

Mouse - An advanced input device to make computer errors easier to generate.

Floppy - The state of your wallet after purchasing a computer.

Portable Computer - A device invented to force businessmen to work at home, on vacation, and on business trips.

Disk Crash - A typical computer response to any critical deadline.

Power User - Anyone who can format a disk from DOS.

System Update - A quick method of trashing ALL of your software.

My Dog Kelly

Follow Us On:

Privacy Policy - Site Map - About Us - Letters to the Editor

Comments and inquiries could be addressed to:

Last updated: June 2013
Copyright © 2003-2013 Julian Rubin