How did you get into programming in the first place?

Ben Halpern on January 29, 2017

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I've been in and around code since the early 80s but it was never presented as a career choice. Women were nurses or secretaries. I grew up knowing I wanted to do something sciencey and so I studied earth sciences and palaeoecology at university (I wanted to be the next paleontologist interviewed on National Geographic! Oooh!. I was still always interested in computers and code so I dabbled here and there. Even did PC repair in high school. In the meantime I worked as a veterinary technician to pay the bills. Well graduation came right around the 2008 collapse and I didn't know what to do with myself so I retreated to vet medicine. Which is hit or miss as far as a career option is concerned. I loved what I was doing but trying to make a living as a single woman with 18,000/year was sucking so hard (most people are either married, a doctor, or married to the doctor to make ends meet in that industry)!

So...Last spring I quit my job and threw myself into learning how to code full time. That's paid off as I've found my first new gig with some awesome people and we're doing good things! So...now I get to paid to learn and build things everyday! And pay my rent! That's pretty awesome! 😊

Wow, congrats on making the leap!

Thank you! It's been quite the journey! But here's to more learning in the year ahead! :)

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!

What steps did you take after observing that first developer?

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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 :)

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.

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.

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.

Made layouts for my Neopet!

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.

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 ^

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!

My mom bought me an XT (early 90's). Turned out the store didn't give us MS-DOS. Went back, they gave us MS-DOS plus a book and disc about GW-Basic. My first program was to track my baseball card collection. Then a bank app with withdrawls and deposits, complete with a '!' on deposits and a simple '.' on withdrawls, go for playing to the mindset of the user. Third (and when I really started to take off) was a app for my highschool teacher to help them track student grades and attendance. I was (and still am) having so much fun with it.

In 6th grade of school we were given a TI Voyage 200 calculator. Since I've been bored most of the time while sitting around in lessons, I fiddled with it and found you could write programs on it in a language called TI-BASIC (a flavour of the BASIC programming language).

So I consumed the documentation of that language and wrote software that would automatically solve formulas we were given in math lessons (printing individual steps as well) so I had more time to play Tetris on it. I gained excellent grades with that and to the surprise of everyone around me, I was able to solve everything in a fraction of time others needed.

I was fond of playing video games as well, so after that I explored modding and hacking video games to adjust them to my wishes. I got into C, C++ and stuff like youtube.com/watch?v=x_vShp_YdjE happened.

At the age of 17 I got my first job software engineering job, developed a PHP framework for a local company. Joined a university to study computer science, got bored of it mid-way and dropped out, since then working in a small company of guys around my age creating all kinds of software for companies and startups in our country. Love it!

One day, my friend and neighbor said, "Hey, my dad wrote an article for his work's in-house mag. Want to read it?". I said sure. His dad was a rocket scientist, and the article was a very simplistic explanation of logic gates. I didn't quite understand it, but the idea that electronics can do arithmetic was interesting.

Couple years later, I was reading a general interest science book from the Soviet Union (might have been Physics For Fun), and it gave a very basic description of how a computer program might be work (i.e. IF and GOTO). Again, I found this interesting, but there was no chance I would see an computer anytime soon.

On the way to visit my college (by train), met a fellow student who had a Casio "pocket computer". Something like this. old-computers.com/museum/computer.... I learned BASIC by reading the manual for it. Pestered my dad to buy me one, and played around writing programs for it. And then college starts. We had an IBM 370 mainframe, and a required Fortran course in the first semester, so boom!

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...

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.

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.

I was a recently discharged Army paratrooper, and hired for a job requiring a top secret clearance, but the Army lost my file. While I was being re-cleared, the company put me on a contract that did not require clearances--putting ruggedized laptops into a light infantry unit. I learned programming while being the middle man between the grunts and the geeks.

In the mid nineties I was going to night school and cutting meat in the supermarket by day. Dad told me that I could make more money as a COBOL contractor, especially because of Y2k. Dad spent a year training me COBOL, where I had to recite the code! Got a QA job and taught myself HTML and JavaScript. Dad said Internet was a fad. After Y2k he was done and I had a good career. Owe him everything for putting me on the path.

I was 12, ZZT and MegaZeux were the hottest thing(well, for nerds anyway), and I wanted to make games. Realized C/C++ could do stuff that Robotic(MegaZeux script lang) could never hope to do so I scraped together whatever cash I could and ran out and bought a Learn C/C++ kit from my local Software Etc.

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.

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!

Lego Mindstorms for my 13th birthday. The built-in drag-n-drop coding wasn't enough, so I learned NQC from The Internet, which was a simpler place back then - a Not Quite C language built on a hacked version of the Lego microcomputer's firmware, NQC taught me the basics of programming in an amazingly tangible way. It opened up a whole new world. Thankful every day for my parents encouragement, even though programming may have been greek to them.

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

I am very lucky. My father was an amateur radio hobbyist and that spilled into computers, and especially the intersection of computers and radio back in the 1980's. He passed his love for tinkering along to me and also gave me a computer and introduced me to GW-BASIC which I used in middle school to turn my Choose Your Own Adventure books into text based games. GOTO PAGE # and GOTO LINE # were a natural fit. My father was able to turn his hobby interest in technology into a job doing technology work for the federal government. In the early 1990s he had a premonition that newly elected Vice President Gore was on to something with this Internet thing. He had already been playing around with similar technologies with Packet Radio so he left his government job and founded one of the first Internet Service Providers in the Washington DC Area. I was a freshman in high school at the time so he put me to work doing technical support. I got paid to sit and play with this Internet thing. It was not long until people started calling asking for help getting their businesses onto the web and my career as a web developer took off. Again, I am very very lucky and owe it all to my father. I now have two high-school aged kids of my own and am trying to pass that love and opportunity on to them.

I originally went to school for Interactive Media Design, and after about a year of various freelance projects (from sales and marketing collateral to retail store signage), I had quite a diverse portfolio but no way of displaying my work online. Sites like Dribbble, Behance, Squarespace, and other "WYSIWYG"-esque sites didn't exist at that time.

The only viable solutions were to a) make best friends with a web developer (scarce at the time in Atlanta) or b) grab yourself some books on HTML/JavaScript, CSS, PHP/MySQL and then fumble through building a WordPress site yourself. That was the route I opted for.

In the process of translating my design from Photoshop into the Browser, I fell in love with the immediacy of designing stuff for the web. At that time, jQuery was gaining traction and made manipulating the DOM easier to grok, and I took to CSS immediately. The rest is pretty much history: I gave up the land of Adobe products for client-side web development, and have working on freelance, contract, and consulting projects since 2006.

I always wanted to create video games since early age : ) but I changed my mind and end up as Front-end Engineer

Same here, but yet, I would like to build a game as a personal project. Serves well if you want to step out from your actual routine.

Got one of these for Christmas when I was 5.

collectorscardsandgames.com/precom...

I was 10, 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 release some Windows apps and did things with Arduino and RPi.

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.

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.

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!

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.

I actually started programming by playing games. Not an exciting game, it was Minecraft with a mod called ConputerCraft. I really liked how I could create (super unsecure) passwords to control a door and after creating bigger applications, I realized I could use this for real life applications. It was a lot of reading and trying to code, but got me really fascinated. This day I am studying bioinformatics and really like how I can automate things to discover biological functions, namely by discovering the DNA

Oh, jeez. Where do i start.

In 1991 or 1992 i got my first computer - a ZX Spectrum 48k clone, made locally. I dabbled with BASIC and then started learning Z80 assembly language. A few thousand PEEKs & POKEs later I got an IBM PS/1 with 85 Mb hard drive and a completely illegal copy of Borland Turbo Pascal. Wrote a windowing graphic system in it, learned x86 assembly along the way, then a couple years later went to C++ - this was 1996 or thereabout (yeah, C++98 wasn't even a thing). Fate was set - I studied Linux as a hobby while working with bunch of Windows machines for a few years more and then landed a Qt UI job at Skype.

After senior high school I didn't want to go to the university that same year so I did not apply to any universities. My mum did not like the idea that I was going to be home a whole year so she enrolled me in an IT institute (AITI-KACE).
I actually wanted to learn Linux systems because I'd started to use Ubuntu as a primary OS but that course was already fully enrolled so I picked the next best thing based on advise from the academic head. That thing was Foundations in Software Development, that's the class I got into.
That was 2012 and and the rest they say, is history.
Looking back, I can see that it's one of the best decisions my mum made for me plus the class was very fun.

I'm a very passionate programmer and a software developing enthusiast.
I started to study programming in the second year of my high school in the IT field which is the first field to give programming lessons in Tunisia.
From then, i developed my skills and got excellent grades in programming. I only hope that I'll gain more knowledge, and in detail, about web development as well as software developing :D

As a young teenager in the early 80s my Dad had a friend come over to show us an Atari 800. After seeing it connected to the TV and running a simple BASIC program that displayed my name on the screen, I was hooked.

That was in 1983, so I guess I can say I've been programming for 34 years! I've written programs in BASIC, Pascal, C, Scheme, Lisp, PowerBuilder, Java, C#, PL/SQL, Visual Basic, Xojo and probably others I'm forgetting.

I am really lazy... so some years ago I thought about automatization and some weeks later I bought one of those Lego robots, because it was a simple way to start automating... but it felt really limited... so I stopped after like two years.
Round about one year later I had to find an internship position. I literally thought months about where. At the end I did my internship in an IT-company, because I remembered the fun I had with the Lego Robots and I like technical things, and they made me learn a little bit of basic. I got interested in programming so I learned java. (Nowadays I don’t program in java anymore).

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. :)

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".

After getting my theatre degree (BFA) in 2010, I basically worked 5 straight years of retail hell. The acting thing was definitely not going to work out for a poor 20-something (although my peers with well-off families had no problem, it just wasn't possible to be out of work for long periods at a time for me, nor would I want to be!)

So I took it on myself to take some career counselling, basically discovering my values and skills and how they could best translate to a new career path - plus I was happy to go back to school!

I almost went with Graphic Design - I discovered I love problem solving, I do have communication and team-oriented skills, I taught myself some simple mark-up in high school when Geocities still reigned supreme. I value travel, and constant learning - anyways all of this lead me to pursue programming!

So now I have 1 term left, I'm almost 30, can't wait to get out of college and into the work force. I'm making apps and learning Ruby on my own time, really really enjoying it! I am in a paid co-op term using Microsoft CRM which I really do NOT enjoy, but it is only temporary and I hope to find something more challenging and code based in my job hunt after school.

In 2004, I was playing a lot of Diablo 2. While looking around online for some info on the game, I thought, "It'd be kinda cool to make my own website." So, I searched for some HTML tutorials, and made my own D2 site in XHTML. I didn't know about CSS at the time, so it was all table layouts. It was terrible but I still have fond memories of it.

It was still another 10 years before I really got into programming. Mostly dabbled here and there, took a couple classes, and treated it as a distant hobby until 2014. Being in an industry I had no love for for 15 years kinda helped push me to really dig into coding. Spent 6 months really learning JavaScript by making a game in HTML5 and canvas, then dove into Java and Android development. February 2015 was when I finally transitioned careers.

Originally I was trying to extend a copy of Super Star Trek written in GW-BASIC on my father's 8088 clone when I was 13yo. I changed it so it would pass a red line over a rectangle in the display and reveal the contents of the adjacent quadrants as it passed over. It was slow, but I didn't know what a compiler was, and building an .exe was a complete mystery to me. Unlike GNU and many Linux distributions of even the past 15 years, Microsoft did not distribute any build tools whatsoever with its OS. I blame them for atrophying creative computing for everyone, and snuffing mine out for ten full years. If only there were an Internet then, or I stumbled across a copy of DJGPP.

I did a degree in Studio Art, and muddled around with a few jobs retouching photographs and some design, until I bought a Pentium Desktop and wiped WinXP off its disks and installed Linux.

I did persistent world programming for Neverwinter Nights multiplayer in NWScript and perl for a couple years before I got my first System Administrator role. I've been working as an Operator for about ten years before merging into the Devops workspace. Today I get top salary in my field, working a 9-5 Platform Engineer role, and am currently building my own Game Engine from scratch in C.

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

It was 1982, 4th grade, and three Commodore PET computers were wheeled into the classroom. We were given very basic instructions on how to load program (games) from the attached tape player. I played a game of worms. My life changed, school had a reason, but sadly we only got to use the computers two or three times that year and had no experience with programming. Further I don't recall getting to use them at all in 5th grade. By 6th grade I was in a new school, they had a small computer lab in their library with 5 Tandy TRS-80 Model III computers networked in a "Star" network. We actually could send emails between the computers in the network and write simple basic programs. Later that year my best friend also got a TRS-80 Color Computer for Christmas (totally different computer from the Model III). From then on it was only a matter of time before my parents relented and invested in one for the family. Fast forward to today, and I'm reasonably adept at database programming.

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.

I've always been a fan of videogames, and I've always liked to read. In Mexico there was this cool magazine called Club Nintendo that, besides talking about the latest games and walkthroughs, had a space for interesting topics related to videogames around the world. Sometimes they would write about very technical stuff (like how the binary system works and how it's used on old videogames).

Since readers were very interested in these topics, one of their editors started a series of HTML tutorials. This was way back when layouts used HTML tables and image maps were all the rage. I didn't have a computer at home, but I would bring my magazines to this small game joint were I used to work and start copying the code from the magazine into the boss' computer. It was like magic seeing simple text being transformed into complicated documents.

From there I went to study computer science with the ultimate goal of becoming a game developer. Something I've yet to achieve, but building web "pages" is still very, very fun.

In 1984 my dad brought home an IBM PC Jr and I was facinated, but there wasn't much it could do. It did, however, come with a BASIC programming manual. As I got older I started playing with the book. I started writing simple choose your own adventures. I started making the computer do more things. I learned that computers were things I could control. Later we upgraded to a Tandy 386SX that could just barely play Doom, but I had to tweak the autoexec.bat and config.sys files to make sure nothing else loaded. Now I knew I could manipulate other software on a system and I was sold: I wanted to make computers make my life easier and more entertaining. Ultimately I got a degree in psychology and cognitive studies (because I was learning computers on my own, why pay somebody to certify I could do that?), but graduated as the tech bubble burst: I fought my way into professional software development by getting support positions until I found a company who let me submit patches from support.

In short, it was by coincidence, I left high school and didn't know what to do since I didn't want to go to college/university but I had done work experience in a small web development agency and knew some basic html, css and php. Taught myself more languages and brushed up on the little I knew of the others online and eventually began doing work for friends and family and that rolled into getting freelance work outside of that circle after my portfolio built up. Then eventually I got contract work more and more rather than small freelance projects. And recently began working full time instead of freelance/contract and yeah, the rest is history as they say. Haven't looked back, I love my job and love our industry.

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?

The summer after 3rd grade (so I was probably 9 years old) my mom took me to a community college course teaching QBASIC. Looking back I must've been super-annoying to everyone else there, but I understood things quickly and completed the course material rapidly. Years later I found out I'd also been doing algebra (which I was afraid of at the time) in this course.

I noodled around with simple text stuff for years afterward, partly inspired by the descriptions of the systems in the novel Jurassic Park (of all things...)

Later, working on a satellite (FASTRAC / Nanosat 3) at the University of Texas, I find out that the data acquisition tools are all written in Visual Basic. Oh yeah, I (mostly) know that, I can help with that. Then again and again throughout my aerospace career that kind of coding opportunity has come up. Fortran 77? No I don't know that, let me look at it...oh yeah, that's not that different, I can do what you want me to. C and C++ for a Win32 app running on a laptop on the space station? Yeah no problem, I got that. Lord knows what'll be next...

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.)

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.

Programming accidentally fell in my lap. My highschool had a program where core classes integrated with tech and meant we all had to buy laptops. One day when I was having typically laptop issues and found that our school's tech support was student run, including the website. I happen to know the lead developer for the website and was asked to join.

I quickly picked up on web development and rose through the internal raking system. I soon was building in my spare time and even landed a job with a local advertising company. At this point I was working with PHP, HTML, JS, and CSS.

My college major was a hard choice between Game Development and Web Development. I stuck with the safety of web development, which lead me learn C#. Learning C# was the first step on my journey to becoming a full stack developer.

I has been a amazing ride and love each new challenge it was put in front of me.

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.

In the late 1960's my father worked for Exxon (Esso in South America where we were on overseas assignment) and they sent him to IBM School to learn to program like they did for many controllers/accountants b/c who else was going to program in those days...

He came back and told me (5 years old) he learned to program and I was fascinated by the thought that you could tell a machine to do something.

That curiosity stuck in my mind as I kept thinking of how such a thing would work and when we returned to the US (San Francisco) he signed me up for a class taught at Dominican College in San Rafael. I was too young (12) to drive so I took a bus to/from class and I learned BASIC on a teletype with no screen, just a typewriter connected to a printer and a paper tape reader. We wrote a program to print calendars and images using text characters. I was hooked!

Subsequently he became the CFO of Zilog in Cupertino on Bubb Road and next door to the then nascent Apple computer. My father would complain about the "hippies" next door and their beer bashes. It sounded like fun to me!

My first real immersive language experience was simultaneously teaching myself C using K&R (book only, no compiler) and Forth running on my calculator - before the IBM PC/Apple II were available. My first "real" computer was a Victor 9000 that I bought on employee discount b/c I worked at Victor during the summer and taught myself ASM programming. I've since learned over 10 languages and I keep learning more each year.

One of my life goals is to get is out of the Turing Tarpit as I don't think what we've been doing all these years has changed much. We are still typing if/then statements in text editors. There has to be a better way!

Thanks, this has been a fun trip down memory lane!

In 2008 when I had to choose course for engineering I chose Information technology, and at that time I didn't knew anything about programming, my interaction with computer was almost zero because I lived in rural part of India. I chose IT just because I had read a lot in newspaper and TV that 21st century is going to be IT age, Also I was curious about how mobile phones work.

In my first year of engineering college I didn't did well in core IT subjects, I tried to change branch also, But in the end I decided to carry on started learning Java, HTML etc.

After graduation I didn't got job in programming field and realized I wasn't prepared for programming yet so I started learning web development from many tutorials and youtube video and I finally I got a job at a small startup, where I got to learn a lot and worked on some web application and games.

Now I think choosing IT in 2008 was best decision.

wanted to become a security expert. asked an expert about what to learn. he said coding. never got out of that :)

Same as me. Lol.

Got a Raspberry Pi!

I dropped out of school after missing lessons to learn code in the computer suite; I was kicked out of my home by my parents soon after.

From there I stayed with a friend and his family, somehow I managed to wing a job writing Go (of which I only started learning 3 weeks prior) and was hired! For the first 6 months I was working remotely, of which 2 I spent a great deal of time learning the language and getting used the working life.

That was about 11 months ago, and now all I do day in day out is write more code 8)

Was 8 back in 2008 when my father got me Small Basic, a simpler version of Visual Basic. I fondly remember making a game in which you had to click on the newest circle in the window, and a new one would appear every time. In 2009 I got a java book in Norwegian, and learned Java. Since then I've done C#, Python and C++ from stackoverflow. In that sense I'm as self-taught as can be, but I've picked up good coding habbits as well, I'm not just stiching togehter tiny examples from SO.
Currently trying to write a compiler. Having a blast, thanks dad!

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.

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.

My first encounter with programming was a classmate who showed me how to use VBScript. I didn't really know what I was doing, but I could make messageboxes and the like.

Soon I found a program which allowed me to write some Visual Basic-esque code. I can't remember the name, but it was quite crappy.

Later, I studied Software Engineering and had C# as my first real language, along with the basics of software development. Later came C, Bash, Java and SQL.

Boss asked to do some stuff that could not be done without coding. I was support back then.

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

Copying POKEs on a Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

8th grade Algebra, I had games like Tetris on my TI-83 & wondered if I could write a program that would show the "work" for the quadratic equation and synthetic division. It worked! :)

I started programming by bending MS Excel to my peculiar needs at my first job after university. Looking back I see it as a kind of visual programming.

ZX spectrum, at the age of about 5. Software either came on tape, or as code in magazines you had to type out. Made it remarkably easy to tinker with and see what happened.

When I was 12 (in the early '90s) a teacher of my school (I can't even remember his name) proposed an afternoon course of 'computer things'. He taught us how to perform basic tasks in DOS (copying and moving files, formatting floppies...) and to code in Basic.

We had Pascal lessons at school, then (mostly boring) programming courses at university. I was not really interested until we got a Delphi course :D
Then I got into web dev and still love it :)

My little brother invited me to a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Android Development. A few weeks in, I called him up asking for some advice since he's an iOS developer. "Um... I haven't even been to class once."

That was about 3 years ago. Now I'm a full time developer.

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.

The Vic-20 was the first introduction, using BASIC pokes recorded on tape, but I think it was seeing the use of a variable in a simple Pascal programme over the shoulder of another student in year 9 that sparked something for my career choice. Ada at university, then PL/SQL with Oracle databases.

1984 and the bloody Ghostbusters cassette wouldn't load on my ZX spectrum, so I picked up the book that came with the computer.

I was interested in writing a plugin for Bukkit (= a minecraft server with plugins) and started by watching terrible videos on YouTube.

TI-BASIC on my TI-82 while boredom math class. I wrote a few functions to solve some of the problems, including showing steps along the way.

I did physics for a year, had a programming course I didn't really like that much, but after failing physics i reconsidered it, and decided to just jump into a new study (applied programming) and I never stopped, I'm now a week away from starting my internship at Algolia

As a child I completed all PC games that were installed on my PC. Was surprised to find one more game on the desktop to play. So I double-clicked the "ping-pong" shortcut icon which opened Visual Basic 6... and ever since I am programming every single day.

PS: Not in VB6 anymore xD.

I first encountered html and css when I wanted to customize my Myspace page!

Got a C64 from my parents when I was 8. My uncle gave me a BASIC book and I just started copying the code snippets.

I stumbled into a software testing job, gradually started learning programming via osmosis, got involved with automated testing, and eventually morphed into a web developer -- all while making virtually zero use of my music degree.

I got into programming from art school creative coding classes, mostly using Processing.org, OpenFrameworks, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi. Now I'm getting into machine learning in various forms.

Back in my high school ages. We had a "computer" class with 2 hours per week and we got Pascal as language.Well, I would have done anything to procrastinate and not sitting and studying math and physics, so I got deep on programming at home. I still remember that blue screen with yellow keywords...

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.

At High school, I was taught Qbasic (2001) but was really hooked since I created my first WAP site for mobile.

Me and a mate found out how to build webpages and started building HTML and CSS pages. We were both 13 at the time. The closest thing to programming was copying and editing snippets of JavaScript. At 15, I started studying “media technology,” where I learned various high-level languages.

I was given a VIC-20 at age 12. It came with an instruction book and sample programs which I keyed in every time I wanted to play a game since I didn't have a tape drive. I enjoyed the hell out of it then and still do...

Wrote an economic paper on automation of labour markets. Decided I wanted to automate, not be automated.

Last spring I decided to delce into themes for reddit. I didn't even really know but I inedvertentlty started learning web development. It was a pleasure so I continued.

I bought a copy of C++ Primer Plus as a freshman in High School, absorbed it.

Jailbroke my iPod touch (back when I was 11), discovered that I could write and compile my own runtime extensions.

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