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How did you get into programming in the first place?

ben profile image Ben Halpern ・1 min read

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Ben Halpern Author

Wow, congrats on making the leap!

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Mr. Black Hack ¤

Wanted to do psychology, one day someone asked me "soo.. <.< psychology huh... what are you gonna do with that... I was so sure I knew what I wanted to do, and that moment I don't why I just felt lost. I was in the library after that break and my girlfriend at the time, was like, you should take college more seriously, I was like "aight fine". Looked up high paying jobs, found that computer oriented jobs seemed to be up there, I said "hey I like computers", so I signed up for it just like that... I spent the summer before my first semester diving into it, every day got more and more exciting, I saw a whole new world and it was made of code. Never turned back since, except those last 3 years where I took a break, found passion for life and explore my creative perspectives. Some source code manipulation you know. Now with long hair and beard, the coding world welcomes me 2.0

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tag hatle

I don't have the long hair and beard, but how much it doesn't matter what you look like is a real draw of coding-as-a-career for me too!

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Petty Thiel

AOL! My family got AOL when I was about 15 and I was completely hooked on reading everything and IMing random internet people. Somehow, I stumbled upon Geocities or the like and realized I could make webpages. HTMLGoodies was my go to website at the time.

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W. Brian Gourlie

I was thirteen or fourteen during the latter half of the 90's when AOL was still a thing. I discovered programs (progz as they were known back then) that you could use to punt people off of AOL via instant message, or spam chat room messages with ascii art, or any number of things that an obnoxious 14 year old kid would take pleasure in. I also discovered that some of these progz included source code, so naturally I was curious.

I studied the source code and learned an alarming amount of the Win32 API as an adolescent and eventually became proficient in writing these programs myself. I was also introduced to "affiliate programs" for certain kinds of websites, in particular websites owned and operated outside of the US that would allow you to sign up as an affiliate without having to prove your age or provide a SSN. I wrote spamming software that implemented the AOL Instant Messenger protocol and would scrape AOL chat rooms for people to message. This thing ran over a dial-up connection, had reconnect logic, and supported connecting an arbitrary number of AIM accounts to circumvent rate limiting.

Naturally, I had acquaintances who wanted to get in on it. I showed them how to do the affiliate sign up, how to set up a web page for banners, and provided them with a spammer that I could remotely configure to send a percentage of messages to advertise my banner portal. I pulled in anywhere from $500-$1000 a month which, for a teenager, was a lot.

Then I turned 18 and at least had the sense to find more legitimate means of making money. I knew it would involve programming, and well, here I am nearly 16 years later working as a programmer.

Quick edit and funny note about the AOL punting thing

It's so funny to think how insecure software was back then. To punt someone off AOL all you had to do was send them the following message:

<font size=999999999999999>peace out sucka!</font>

It was a simple buffer overflow caused by specifying a font size exceeding 32-bits. The worst part is that punting was super common and it took AOL YEARS to fix it!

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tag hatle

This reminds me of crashing someone's Messages app on their iPhone by sending huge emoji texts... I guess some things haven't changed, lol!

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Melissa Martinez

I saw my first developer in action at a Startup Weekend a few years ago. I had no idea what he was doing at the time, but I knew right then and there that's what I wanted to do for a living. However, I was building Myspace themes as a 11 yr old. I wish I had an adult in my life at the time to guide me towards Computer Science!

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Ben Halpern Author

What steps did you take after observing that first developer?

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Melissa Martinez

Well after that weekend, I jumped right back into HTML and CSS. Then I discovered Flash wasn't a thing anymore, so I had a rude awakening trying to learn Javascript. I took a class on Java in school, and was able to transfer that knowledge to learn JS a lot easier. I was also referring to job descriptions to see what else I needed to learn.

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Massimo Artizzu

As an amateur, when I was something like 8 my father thaught me the basics of... well, BASIC. It was kind of love at first sight. Programmed things for fun, until I got into university - at that point I had no time.

Professionally, it was more or less by accident. Was looking for a job, sent a resume for working in a computer shop, it was forwarded to someone who was hiring web developers. I basically had no experience whatsoever, but surprisingly I got hired.

Maybe having won that programming contest back when I was an university student helped... I still don't know.

All I know is that I love my job.

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Luke Bonaccorsi

2001 at Age 11, first IT lesson at secondary school (UK here) we were taught extremely basic HTML. Homework was to go home and build a web page about something. Can't remember what I built.

What I do remember was the moment of realisation that I had just built something that goes on the internet. Before that the internet seemed like this inaccessible blob of knowledge and cool stuff.

I asked the teacher how I put it on the internet and from there I was building websites, looking at the source for other sites and getting books on HTML and JavaScript out from the library.

16 years later I'm doing it full time and loving it.

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Ben Halpern Author

I wish I were given "go home and build a web page about something" as a homework assignment!

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Zac Anger

My story is pretty boring, but it's mine so I like it.

I'd been a Linux user for a few years, mostly because I always had kinda crappy old computers and running Windows was just too slow. I'd done some "programming" before, in middle school (QBasic), and fooled around with Bash scripts and things.

I'd found a neat CLI tool I wanted to use on npm. I didn't know anything about Node at the time, but I wanted to try this thing out, and ended up fixing an issue I had with it.

At the time I was in a dead-end job, and was trying to get into doing websites for clients as a freelancer (just HTML and CSS, which I'd been doing since the early 2000s for fun anyway – my very first 'real' website was a Harry Potter Fanfic group side, called "The Raven's Claw").

Learning enough about Node to fix this little tool was a really interesting adventure, and I ended up deciding to pursue that a bit more. I went to a bootcamp (DevMountain in Provo, UT) and spent several months studying and building stuff 60 hours a week. Getting the chance to just focus on learning and trying to build stuff for a few months was a pretty great thing (and however you feel about code bootcamps, I think that's their real selling point, not any specific curriculum or anything).

I ended up mentoring at DevMountain for another three months, which was, I think, more beneficial than actually going through the program. Got a job right afterwards as a front-end dev for a pretty neat company, and now I've been doing this professionally for a little over a year, so I guess I can call myself I programmer.

I also grew up with a graphic designer mom and a sysadmin dad, so maybe I never really had a choice?

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Ben Halpern Author

For me, it was my friend who started a website for his band on Geocities when I was about 12 or so. I got hooked immediately on this stuff once the stuff was introduced to me, but I did let it fade away for a while, coded now and then for the next 10+ years, before finally jumping in for real in my 20s.

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yuvileyris

First I was interested into becoming a scientist with physics, but got a trainee on a Research platform where all Computer scientists worked on something physics relevant like Mars so my interest began there ^

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phillip kerman

Multi-slide projectors placed in racks (at least 2 pointing to each screen) ..."programmed" to dissolve/advance in synch with sound track using such devices:
stevenmichelsen.com/AVL/AVL_Show_P...
stevenmichelsen.com/AVL/AVL_coyote...

And later on DOS.

Then Macromedia Authorware (which wasn't much different than scratch)--but it had multimedia drivers to control laserdisk and later digital video and CDROM etc.
ascilite.org/archived-journals/e-j...

That was sort of eaten by Macromind/Macromedia Director (language was "Lingo").

Then Flash/ActionScript 1, 2, 3 (which was like Java)

Now JS.

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Gideon Pyzer

This seems to be more of a life story, but don't worry, I'm not that old. I started playing with computers when I was around 9. I used to use my dad's work laptops. I kept breaking things, including corrupting the OS on numerous occasions. In the fear of being yelled at,
I anxiously spent hours trying to fix it and, eventually, succeeding. This gave me my problem solving skills.

I liked browsing the Internet and going on websites. I wanted one of my own. On my 10th birthday, my dad bought me my own domain name, because that's what all the cool 10 year old 90s kids wanted. I learnt HTML and CSS mostly, and built my terrible static entertainment website. I experimented Geocities, if you remember that gem ha.

In my mid teens, I discovered PHP and MySQL databases. I created some beautiful XSS/SQL Injection-prone forms, such as simple article/comment system. I later lost a little interest and got lazy, but as I went to study Computer Science, I re-gained my interest in programming, or rather making cool things by creative means. There's so many cool projects I could have done, but didn't, a few years ago. However, now I'm working for a great software company, building up my front end skills and confidence levels after a long spell of imposter syndrome.

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Aaron Eiche

In early 2000 I hacked together a Mac Client for LiveJournal. It was the first time I'd ever done any programming that wasn't very light Javascript in web pages. I tried to go into CS in college, but didn't try very hard and figured that my brain just wasn't wired for programming.

In 2005 a friend of mine needed to offload some web page work that she had done, and I had made plenty of web pages. The work was for an artist and I kept running into problems that I couldn't solve with HTML. I started poking around PHP and was able to solve problems. Turned out my brain worked great for programming, I just had to be interested in what I was working on.

At some point I realized that I could probably make money doing this full time, so I started applying and picked up a job. 11 years later I'm still doing it happily.

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Muntadhar Haydar

In 2005 when I was 8 my father bough a desktop for his work and I was fascinated by computers so I played some games and did some PowerPoint things until summer 2008 when I knew from my mom and dad, who both are Civil Engineers, that they did some programming back in college in early 90s so I decided to be an engineer and learn programming which led to my first program ever written in BASIC.
Now, I'm 21 y/o and studying Electrical Engineering and have programmed in VB.Net then moved to C# which I did some desktop and UWP apps using it and since 2015 I am programming Arduinos and RPis with C/C++, C#, Python.

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Daniel Cherubini

My Mum was in charge of the computers for the Department of Education for our state (New South Wales) in Australia, so naturally when I was born in 1982 I had access to a lot of technology.

Mum tells the story that i typed my first word on an Apple II at the age of 2, and I remember a few years later really wanting to play a text based adventure, like zork on our apple IIe. I begged mum for a non-educational game, and so for my birthday, I got a book, and a blank 5 1/4 inch floppy disk...

I was a little confused, If the game was on the blank disk, why the book, and the book had dragons on it, was this some kind of book that goes with the game?

I opened the book, and it was code, BASIC code, see the book WAS the game, and mum looked at me and said "You can play your adventure game, after you code it"

I remember getting about 50% through the book before I realised how to find the end, and never completed the code. Mum was upset, so she asked my why I didn't, I then said "Ohh you kill the dragon here, and this is how...." Mum was so happy, she had made me learn coding to a point where I could read the code for the answer.

I must have been about 5 or 6 at the time, after that at around age 11 Doom came out, and I got obsessed with multiplayer Token Ring networks.. which got me interested in C, and then C++, Java, etc etc etc..

All because mum refused to give in and do something non-educational

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Damien Cosset

Partly because I was always interested in it, and partly because I needed some direction in my life. I dropped out of college where I was studying economics. Then, I was just filling my time with some jobs I didn't enjoy and didn't want to get better at.

I needed a career that I could enjoy while working on skills that I could always improve. Because I always thought that it would be pretty cool to learn how to program, I started by picking up a book about C, which I quickly gave up :D . Then, I signed up for the free trial on Treehouse and started the front-end development track. I was 23, it was 2 years ago, and it was the best decision I've made so far.

So, outside of the sense of urgency of picking a career, I would say that the feeling of having no limits in what you can learn, improve, work on or dream about is absolutely what go me into programming

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Cadell

On LinkedIn my job description was front end manager at a supermarket and ever so often LinkedIn would email me possible positions I would be perfect for. One hiccup though, these possible job opportunities were for front end developers not actual managers at supermarkets LOL.

You can imagine my face after reading the details of these front end postions... "The heck is HTML", "Javascri who??" 0_o. So one day out of curiosity I spent a few hours really researching front end development and I was instantly consumed by it. By the following week I was already messing with HTML and CSS and building my first webpage.

Now one year later, I'm pursing a degree in computer/software eng and I'm also building my first web app with Ruby and the Sinatra framework.

That's my odd story :D.

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Sabrina

Like most, I started dabbling with code as a kid customizing layouts for Xanga and Myspace. I just didn't know coding was a thing I could make money doing. I wished I would've known sooner. I loved how the web was constantly changing so majored in IT in school. It wasn't until junior year that I learned front-end web development was a career. I spent that summer and rest of my time in school teaching myself HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, etc.

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👑 Fred Amare

Hated programming in school because of the way I was taught. Graduated, wanted to be a security expert, then Python happened. It's too beautiful to leave. I'm in fact stuck in its awesomeness.

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Diego Delgadillo

Glad you kept going even after that, many misunderstood coding because the way of learning was out of touch and monotonous. But others found the courage to look beyond.

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Mario Durán

Some afternoon after school I was playing PlayStation (the first one) and my mom pass by and says to me in a very casual and distended way: Son you should be a software developer. So as a good son, I went to psychology school. After a few tries I ended up doing computer science like she said

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Michelle Six

Late 70s and I loved arcade video games but lacked money. My father told me that video games were computer programs. He started me with a class learning Fortran 4 on punch cards which seemed designed to kill any interest in computers.

A friend though gave me a copy of Basic Computer Games atariarchives.org/basicgames/ My junior high school had a DECwriter hooked up via a 110 baud link to the high school's PDP 11. I started by typing them in, then learned to understand them and then creating my own games.

I was in that first generation where girls were being told we could do anything and at the same time society seemed to say girls should be nurses or teachers. I always assumed I would grow up to be a history teacher but instead became a software engineer.

For fun though I still write games for fun today itunes.apple.com/us/app/deadline-a...

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Eric B

If I had an Apple TV, I would buy your game.

I've been hoping that any of our kids will show any interest in programming, but they are between 15 and 22 now, and zero. oh well. at least we've got a couple hobbyist musicians :)

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Jay Green ♥ 🇺🇸

Ha! That was my first programming book. My parents bought it for me when my school got it's first shipment of Apple II E's. My more experienced friend pointed out that the BASIC that book used was not compatible with Apple. So I decided I would modify them so they would run. I learned a lot by doing that. Then I mowed lawns for a year and saved up for my first computer, the C64. I stayed up late nights learning 6502 Assembly. Wouldn't trade that time in my life for anything!

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Mark Bussell Jr

Glad I got around to this discussion a little late - you have no idea how comforting to see more than a few who got into programming later than age 8... I've always felt like I was perpetually "behind" because I didn't start programming until mid-way through an AAS in Network Engineering.

I switched majors two weeks into the one required programming class because I'd found programming far easier and more enjoyable than anything I was doing on the Networking side. It just fit me better and made sense. :)

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tag hatle

Yeah the idea that if you weren't writing programs in grade school you'll never catch up is really daunting, I'm glad to see otherwise too!

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Oguzhan Yagci

I was around 10 years old and watching a TV cartoon called "Code Lyoko". One of the main characters was a computer genius. I found that so amazing to be able to do those things that I just grabbed the keyboard of my computer and started looking for how I could to such things.

I began with some HTML/CSS (my first website was a fansite called "Code Xana" which was of course about "Code Lyoko") and then a bit of C because I wanted to dig deep down the computer.

Now I am a CS student at 42 and I still am digging down in my computer to learn how to do those cool stuffs I saw on the TV!

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Lily Collin

When I was younger I loved playing Neopets and they had these profiles which you could customize with some CSS and could add some HTML as well. I didn't really find things I liked on other sites so I ended up learning to make my own. Eventually I learned how to make my own and made my own site to offer some that I made. Which is when I started doing things like PHP, CSS and some javascript.

When it became time to apply for school I honestly didn't know what computer science was but I needed to apply for something so that's what I did. I got to learn a bunch of different languages like Java, Python and C++ and decided I was going to work on becoming a system administrator instead. I still did some web stuff on the side for friends and people I knew. However during my last year of university I got a job in web development, which then started my career.

It's been five years since I've started working full time in web and I've learned so much and have started to become a specialist in SuiteCRM/SugarCRM development and integration. Drupal and Wordpress are an other two platforms that I've been working on developing plugins/modules. It's crazy to think that just a hobby would eventually turn into my career. I still do have my Neopets account I revisit every so often to see where it all started.

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Ashley Nicolson

Oh my word, small world! I started off the same. Loved Neopets and I was a 'webmaster' of one of their most popular Zelda guild (at the time) years ago and that's where it all began. Highfive for Neopets!

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Andy Shevchenko

At a computer club in early 80s, drawing a snowman with 3 circles and writing a complex logic like:
INPUT "WANNA GET FUN?", A;
IF A="Y"
THEN PRINT "FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN"

Then annoyed my parents until they bought me a i8088 home computer which comes with operation manual and Assembly language manual. Figured out almost everything by myself through debugging existed applications and BIOS ROM. Wrote a simple graphics editor eventually.

Then soldered a ZX Spectrum clone stuffing up PCB with chips according to a manual. Hacked a lot of games, got employed as a hacker at age 14 with 300 USD wage, doing tape to disk games conversion.

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K

I some Flash and Photoshop stuff when I was 14 and liked creating digital things. I also modified games like Half Life and StarCraft.

Then I was at IRC regularly and liked the bots that did what you told them. I discovered mIRCscript and started doing my own news and game bots, mostly by copy-n-paste. Funny that I got an interval running that would news via sockets from a HTTP server and parsed the needed strings out of the response years before I learned what an array is...

I later learned C in high school and then worked as a Web dev between high school and university. I learned HTML and CSS for a private website and got some PHP basics on the way, which seemingly was enough to get a job.

I studied computer science and media and learned JavaScript on a job I had besides university.

Guess the Web is just my thing :)

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Diego Delgadillo

Back 10 years ago, I took Computer Science at high school. I always thought before that decision: "there has to be something more than Dreamweaver, Flash and Expression Web," because that's what I got at middle school. And there was, I met Java, but that wasn't after a month of working with Raptop (Yes, the Flowchart!).

Nowadays, I live in the discombobulated world of Javascript, in which someone already launched another framework by the time I finished this post.

*Fun facts

  1. Dreamweaver and Flash were still under Macromedia.
  2. From a high school class about 240 people... only 12 came out with Computer Science honors... how cool is that?
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tag hatle

"someone already launched another framework by the time I finished this post." made me laugh out loud, too true!!

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Leo Yockey

I used to code up my own profile on Myspace, but I had NO idea I was doing HTML and CSS. While I was working Casino Security, a vendor randomly suggested that I look up code.org and start learning how to code. He saw that I was good with computers and unhappy with my job. Eventually, I ended up on Codecademy where I learned the basics of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. I loved it! But I wasn't job-ready. I enrolled in a bootcamp a few months ago. It was the best decision I ever made!

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Pankaj Doharey

I started programming on a BBC Micro because my school had it, it was really wonderful to see that. After a gap of 7 yrs, because i changed my school and other schools did not have a computer, it took some yrs, before it became affordable to buy a computer in India.
During my second encounter with computers i learnt C and C++ programming because i wanted to create a Male counterpart of Lara Croft in 2000's. Something similar to Uncharted now, though it never materialized as i became a web developer and also it helps to pays bills. This year i have quit my job and working towards bringing a Console Class Commercial WebGL game to the market. Hopefully i would finally become a successful Game developer, a dream i cherished since i was a kid.

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Sergey Peshkov

I was learning to create cool animations and stuff in Macromedia (Adobe nowadays) Flash and found some tutorials about ActionScript, and that was the beginning. After that I've learnt some programming at school, then university, learnt some technologies by myself, but ActionScript was my first experience

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Markus Stehr

My dad showed me some stuff on the Amiga back in the early 90s which in turn made me read the Amiga BASIC manual back when i was 7.
Dabbled some in that on my dads Amiga, let some lines scroll around in it and later, when i got my own computer which was a 386-40, found out about that little program called QBASIC which i copied over to my DR-DOS 6 machine and dabbled in that.

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Daniel Galassi

I loved to play arcade games during our summer holidays and back in... 1986, my school acquired a number of ZX Spectrum. My mom was clever enough to ask me if I wanted to see how games were developed and... although I didn't learn to code games, I caught the bug... and found out programming was my passion (yeah... till I actually met girls, LOL!).
From there... I have been programming ever since, through technical high school and a few years in university... I have been coding for... almost 30 years and I still love it and learn something every day.

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WorkshopCraft

The Vic-20 had a manual with some BASIC programs. I forget the details now but i remember typing them in and I remember I played around with them to do different things. I was I think 8 or 9 at the time and once I was bitten by the coding bug, I never looked back.

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Muntadhar Haydar

I was 11, I'm 20 now, when my parents, both Civil Engineers, told me about how they loved computers in late 80s and 90s and how they did some of their homework using BASIC so I started to learn it bit by bit. I remember my first ever program was written in BASIC that gives you Area and Circumference for 1 of 4 shapes given the required info. Since then I learned VB and VB.Net and later C#. 
Coding is fun and I it helps me a lot in Electrical Engineering.
I released some Windows apps and did things with Arduino and RPi.

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Max Smirnov

Both of my parents have been working in tech by the time I was in more or less conscious age (about 6 or so). And one day they've bought me a book that have probably changed my whole life. It was in Russian and it was called "Prof. Fortran's Encyclopaedia" (you can search for it, DuckDuckGo shows it right up front if you search for the name, while Google does not). We didn't really have comics in Russia, but it was probably the first and the only comic book about IT ever issued in Russia. In a few short stories it was illustrating the construction and principles behind a computer, from a PC to mainframes, programming languages (probably BASIC), networks, etc. And man, I was hooked. All I wanted since was a real computer.

At my school we were lucky enough to have programming classes (only few schools in my city have had them back in the day), but they were intended for older kids. I have convinced my teacher and my parents to let me attend those classes when I was 8. There I've learned Pascal and wrote my first real lines of code. Then I've tried some of Delphi (basically as GUI extension for Pascal), C, C++, C#. My teacher hasn't been able to keep up with my pace, so she'd introduced me to some local university profs, who I'd participated several competitions with. My further career was pretty much solved at this point.

I went to the university where I've studied Computer Systems Architectures, learned a ton about various low-level stuff - CPU architectures, microcontrollers, networks, programmable logic circuits, etc. Even implemented my own little OS in Assembler. On my 3rd year in the university I've got my first real job in telecommunication company, where I was probably the youngest employee of the department.

As you can see, I've tried myself in quite a lot of different realms of IT, but finally 3 years ago I've settled in with iOS development. It was (and still is) a charm. I'm really happy to work in tech and on every opportunity I encourage everyone to try programming - there's a change it would change their lives just as it has changed mine 20-something years ago once and for all. It was a long journey and I'm sure that most of it is still waiting for me in the future.

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Ken Penn

I'd got a 386 (win 3.1) to write poetry and do graphics with CorelDraw 2 and Aldus PageMaker. Using those frequently crashed win 3.1, and I found I had a knack for getting the computer up and running again. I was doing brochures for a local non-profit, who had a donor database that no one could manage, and there you go.

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Craig Warburton

Just getting it now after 15 years in the infrastructure space! Started with a bit of web development (Angular and starting some asp.net) in my spare time and it's opening my eyes wider than ever in the infrastructure space.

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Dustin King

My dad had a Commodore 64 when I was little. He wrote programs, such as simple educational games for us kids. He showed me how BASIC worked, and we wrote a program together to count to a million. Later, he got me a book on QBasic, which I experimented with during high school. The first thing I tried to do on my own was writing an equation solver (I don't think it worked out very well because I was confused about the difference between equality and assignment). I also looked at the source code for some games to try and understand how they worked.

At that point I knew about variables, control flow, etc, but I didn't really learn how to write programs until I took intro to programming in college. Having an actual assignment (writing a program to make change for a given amount of money) plus a good chapter on techniques for breaking down a problem and designing a program for it in the book for the course ("Programming and Problem Solving with Ada"), really helped, and I consider this the point when I really became a programmer.

I also remember an epiphany when I was in junior high or high school, when I realized "Game Genie uses Peek and Poke commands!" (Although that may not be literally true, because it was probably assembly instead of BASIC.)

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Mohammed Asim

I was 2002 and I was 21. I was pushed to take up a 4 year computer science degree by my parents. I had no clue, nor did they about what was computer science. But I'm thankful that they invested their time and money to get me a decent education no matter what the challenges were. I was taught C in the first semester, and I loved it, but the theory and math that came with a 4 year program bored me to death. It took me five years to get my head around all the theory needed to pass the exams, and when I graduated in late 2007 the recession was starting to kick in, which meant that I only got my first job in 2010. The desire to make up for lost time meant that I ignored family & friends for the next 7 years, working long weekends, and dreaming code even when i was sleeping. A rather hectic 7 years later, I now have a rather cushy job of an architect, and I don't get to code as often as I would like to. I'm now evaluating what new language to learn (Dart / Go / rust ... so many to choose from!) and contemplating taking a break from work so that I can reconnect with friends and family.

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Josh Hardman

I started teaching Breakdance to the CEO of Entrata for a summer parade. I was studying business management at BYU. He offered me an internship doing SQL, which I was excited to accept. I didn't have any prior tech experience, except for an intro to computer programming class (which I hated). That internship opened my eyes to how awesome programming actually is in the real world and with people who are excited to help you understand. I quickly discovered this was something that I am super passionate. With a combination of self learning, and opportunities at Entrata, I have been fortunate enough to grow into a Software Engineer positition. I am currently transitioning into front end. I am obsessed with learning and I'm super stoked to see where I end up going from here!

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Aaron Chamberlain

A friend of mine in middle school heard that you could cheat on the game Runescape by making software do it for you. I wanted to try it out, spend way too long trying to get some community tool working (it was in Pascal) and never did get anything substantial working. Echoing many here, I wish I would have had a mentor that I could ask questions to.

It took me another few years before I found out about a musical instrument called the monome that was completely user programmable that I got interested in programming again. Some stuff was written in MaxMSP, some in C, etc…

Currently work in Web Development and but also interested in things like parallel computing.

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Finnian Anderson

Got a Raspberry Pi!

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Guilherme Holz

I failed to get into the federal college in Brazil as a history major, so my dad said and I quote "Don't go on thinking you gonna sit on your ass all day, tomorrow you'll find a job". I knew how to fix a computer so I started working with tech support, one day I was offered an opportunity to work with html and I asked a friend if he could teach me in one weekend, he said "sure" that was 13 years ago. Never looked back.

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Cloakd

Started programming when i was 12 to automate level grinding on an online game, that moved to getting involved in building a private server of the game with a few other people. The natural flow of those two led to a marketplace for these "scripts" where i made my first sale of software.

Fast forward 6 years and i had started off as a 1st line technical support phone guy, I was still actively developing in my spare time so looking into ways i could make my job easier. Ended up building a load of php/bash scripts that allowed me to automate 90% of the fixes i needed to do (was a niche platform that the helpdesk provided support for). It was soon noticed by management and i escalated up to a tester.

Jump forward another year and i had a new job as a 2nd line support guy for a small company, the company saw potential and i got my first 'developer' gig by building an automation platform for one our our existing large clients. Then just grew from there. Now i run a team of 8 developers working with some of the largest companies in the UK.

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Eric B

... in 1981, if you didn't have a huge software budget, you typed in programs from a magazine. As a 5 year old, I did not have a software budget. So, I typed in programs from a magazine. That quickly lead to changing programs after the fact, which lead to changing programs while entering them.

Not much later, maybe when I was 6 or 7, I was able to write my own things .. although I still definitely prefer not starting from scratch, but rather modifying existing things.

I didn't become professional at it until 2010 or so, when an aspiring game studio offered me a chance, based on my messages at a forum. It's been a great time, ever since.

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tag hatle

If I'd never heard of it called "web development" I probably would never have gotten into it. I was never very "math-y" but I was deep into HTML and CSS with Neopets and MySpace and LiveJournal, and my first job was as a secretary where I was a web admin (without the title or pay of course), the general Help Desk, and the "find-an-open-source-version-of-this-software-and-make-it-work-by-Sunday" person. I've worked for years in tech support now and after trying the college thing a few times realized I'd need to find an alternative to move up in the world, and I didn't want that alternative to be management.

So "web development" sounded like something I could do -- I knew HTML and CSS pretty well even if my eye for design isn't so hot. From there, I started realizing that programming languages are just that, languages, and anyone can learn them. It's not about any inherent ability, it's about problem-solving. I'm starting to see myself as a "web developer" and I'm thinking that being a "programmer" might not be beyond my abilities too.

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Herdy Handoko

I've been playing computer games since I was little, and had learnt to upgrade PC hardware from watching my uncle (to support my gaming hobbies, of course).

My first 'programming' experience however, was to create an alma mater website for my high school. The art club, which I am also a part of, asked me since they think I am good with computers. I said yes, even though I didn't know anything about it. My only programming experience at the time was from doing a bit of BASIC in junior high. Regardless, I took the challenge and bought several books to guide me and give me inspiration. I set up the website in GeoCities, and added some effects using Javascript code I copied from those books. My friends seemed to like it :)

I continued making websites as a hobby in University; I maintained a website for work experience and learnt ColdFusion and CFML for a capstone project. By the time I completed Uni, I decided a career in programming was the way to go (I was a business / commerce major).

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rich mouse

Never considered IT as a career for a second while at school in the 80s, I was good at languages and literature and figured I would end up a writer of some kind. Did a BA, worked in journalism sub-editing newspapers for a while, then my workplace introduced 'automated page layout' software which basically did a large chunk of my job. Figured it might be good to broaden horizons a bit so I learned some HTML then lucked into a job at a small web design business. From there I learned everything I could get my hands on, got progressively more and more backend, eventually doing everything from sysadmin to UI design. Now have been working as a full stack software developer for nearly 20 years! So I guess I did end up working with languages after all, just not in the way I expected :)

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Wesley Ameling

This is actually a bit of a weird story. I was playing Minecraft about 5 years ago with the mod called ComputerCraft. This mod enabled users to write lua code to interact with the Minecraft world (turning redstone on and off, actually display GUIs using monitors). I was so amazed by the possibilities of programming that I kept doing it. I always wanted this component in my study and it was between computer science and bioinformatics. I chose bioinformatics purely because it had two worlds combined: natural sciences and programming.

To this day I already passed 2 out of 4 years of this study and still enjoying it very much!

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Aaron

Had a friend who's dad was a programmer (early 90's). Always fascinated me. We played a lot with video games (and also punch cards!) at his place. Was around age 6 - 10. But did not get into programming.

Then, changed the text in the translation file of Sid Meier's Civilization II. I understood that. At that time I got fascinated by the content of executables when I opened them in Notepad: "how does someone makes sense of this stuff". I really just wanted to cheat in games though :-)

Then took a while of self-learning to find out about VB Script first, then later got the book "C++ in 21 days". Around 14 years old then I think. And put up a terrible website.

Then moved on to PHP + MySql to make a little blog (full of security holes, as evidenced by the spam in the comments). And played around with Linux.

Meanwhile, in high school I was failing most classes. Because I was somehow going for aircraft mechanic (fail). Then went to business / economics (fail) and then graphical design (barely passed). None of which I cared about much. But I had to get through to go to college. Though I did program stuff on the calculators we got. To calculate invoices and also a casino game similar to drug wars. But that was somehow not appreciated ...

Took until college (2004) to actually do what I love in school: Electronics-ICT. There got into .NET. The only 3 years I actually enjoyed school.

Then got a job doing technical consultancy / developing custom projects.

Still learning every day and will be doing that forever.

So, really, self-taught for the most part (books + internet). Spent more time programming than doing school work. Ended up fine, but caused my parents a lot of stress at the time. I blame the school system, forcing me to choose things I did not care for much.

Some things might be chronologically incorrect.

Lots of respect for people who only got into it later on, "from left field".