A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 11, 2016
“How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb?” (joke)

A well-known “light bulb” joke involving computer programmers is:

Q: How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. That’s a hardware problem.


The joke has been cited in print since at least February 1982, when it was published in Infoworld.

“How many hardware engineers does it take to change a light bulb?” and “How many Microsoft engineers does it take to change a light bulb?” are related “light bulb” jokes.


Google Books
1 February 1982, Infoworld, “Micro humor,” pg. 18, col. 1:
Question: How many programmers does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Answer: None, it’s a hardware problem!
Pg. 19:
“How many computer programmers does it take to change a light bulb?”
(Readers respond to a question asked November 28, 1981.—ed.)

1 May 1984, Washington (DC) Post, “Bob Levey’s Washington,” pg. E11, col 3:
Bob Menaker passes along the latest light bulb joke:

How many computer programmers does it take to screw in a light bulb?

None. That’s a hardware problem.

Google Books
PC World
Volume 2
1984
Pg. 13:
It’s like the old joke: How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb? None, it’s a hardware problem.

Google Books
Application Debugging:
An MVS Abend Handbook for COBOL, Assembly, PL/I, and FORTRAN Programmers

By Robert Binder
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
1985
Pg. 9:
Question: How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb? Answer: None; it’s a hardware problem.

Google Books
A Prairie Home Companion
Pretty Good Joke Book

By Brian Becker
Minneapolis, MN: HighBridge
2003
Pg. 35:
How many programmers does it take to change a lightbulb?
None. That’s a hardware problem.

Google Books
Man Walks into a Bar:
Over 6,000 of the Most Hilarious Jokes, Funniest Insults and Gut-Busting One-Liners

By Stephen Arnott and Mike Haskins
Berkeley, CA: Ulysses Press
2007
Pg. 257:
How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb? None. That’s a hardware problem.

Twitter
Jenny Goodman
‏@yolospat
Q: How many programmers does it take to screw in a light bulb? A: None; it’s a hardware problem.
9:27 AM - 10 Dec 2007

Google Books
More One Liners, Jokes and Gags
By Grant Tucker
London: Biteback Publishing
2013
Pg. ?:
How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb? None, it’s a hardware problem.

reddit
How many programmers does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
submitted February 14, 2014 by supremecrafters
None. We don’t address hardware issues.

reddit
How many programmers does it take to change a lightbulb?
submitted November 10, 2015 by stevenmc
None, that’s a hardware issue.

Twitter
Fast Enterprises
‏@FastEntCareers
Q: How many programmers does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None, that’s a hardware problem.
#ClassicJokeMonday
9:03 AM - 4 Jul 2016

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMedia/Newspapers/Magazines/Internet • Thursday, August 11, 2016 • Permalink