Alan Perlis – SICP Quotes

Quotes from preface of Abelson and Sussman’s “Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs”:

“I think that it’s extraordinarily important that we in computer science keep fun in computing. When it started out, it was an awful lot of fun. Of course, the paying customers got shafted every now and then, and after a while we began to take their complaints seriously. We began to feel as if we really were responsible for the successful, error-free perfect use of these machines. I don’t think we are. I think we’re responsible for stretching them, setting them off in new directions, and keeping fun in the house. I hope the field of computer science never loses its sense of fun. Above all, I hope we don’t become missionaries. Don’t feel as if you’re Bible salesmen. The world has too many of those already. What you know about computing other people will learn. Don’t feel as if the key to successful computing is only in your hands. What’s in your hands, I think and hope, is intelligence: the ability to see the machine as more than when you were first led up to it, that you can make it more.”
—Alan J. Perlis (April 1, 1922 February 7, 1990)

“Is it possible that software is not like anything else, that it is meant to be
discarded: that the whole point is to always see it as a soap bubble?”

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