"Premature optimization is the root of all evil" is a quote that almost certainly originates from Don Knuth's essay "Structured Programming with go to Statements" where it appears twice. The quote is often also attributed to Tony Hoare which is likely the result of Knuth subsequently using it in "The Errors of TeX" and referring to it as "Hoare's dictum". The initial essay was authored with input from many luminaries of computer science from that time including Hoare, so it's conceivable that its original source was a letter an uncited letter from Hoare to Knuth but there's nothing to substantiate that and there's loose evidence to suggest that Hoare has no recollection of ever saying it and has expressed that it sounds like something Knuth would say. The quote is sticky and valid but as with any quote out of context is also subject to simplistic misuse. The original essay was focused on defending the position that go tos remained valuable at that time though they were under attack in the pursuit of structured programming and most notably Dijsktra's "Go to statement considered harmful". The crux of the quote is that go tos remained a valuable tool for optimization in those inner loops where the savings were worth it (ideally through refactoring (before that was a term) a more expressive and easily proven structured definition), but not elsewhere and most saliently that people tend to be very poor at predicting which are the crucial hot spots. The latter certainly remains the case and likely even more so given that systems have become increasingly self-optimizing in ways that Knuth speculates upon but is far in the distance of the 1974 essay. The underlying message is fairly timeless and can be paraphrased as authoring for maintainability and evolvability and then optimization should be an empirical and data-driven process.