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Christian Vasquez
Christian Vasquez

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Were you born to be a developer?

This question has been floating around in my head for a while. I know I wasn't, I'm the kind of guy that likes to try everything, I'm just genuinely curious about lots of things and I feel like I am at least decent at them.

Is there any of you who has been coding since you were little?

If so, do you feel like you are "ahead" of your colleagues because of it?

Top comments (34)

jfrankcarr profile image
Frank Carr

I am the same age as COBOL so childhood coding, as we know it today, wasn't really an option for me. I was greatly inspired by the 60's space program and learned a lot of math on my own, especially trigonometry as I got into model rocketry. My parents bought me a nice slide rule. From it, I learned not only math concepts but also the programming concepts of creating an execution plan, cursors and temporary storage. Around the same time, I also learned to type, another valuable skill now.

I think these 2 things helped me a lot when I wrote my first programs in the late 70's in a college math class. They certainly put me ahead of most people in my age group.

dmfay profile image
Dian Fay

I learned BASIC at age 8 with help from my father, copying code listings out of the back of his Sky and Telescope magazines and so forth. I discovered recursion by trying to port fractal generators from C books, wrote the kind of primitive games you'd expect a kid to write, tried and repeatedly failed to wrap my head around OpenGL (I think I got as far as rendering and moving the classic teapot). Minus the BASIC and anything having to do with graphics programming, I've kept it up ever since, dropping out of a CS degree program to work fulltime as a developer and now an architect.

I'm good at what I do, and that extra decade of reading, writing, and understanding code and computers has certainly helped. But I don't really think of it as being "ahead" of my colleagues. Even early on in my career, I might have been more acclimated to simply doing work on a computer and even more used to syntax conventions, but that didn't mean I understood source control or knew SQL. It's more like I had relevant but not always directly applicable experience. And of course, once you reach a certain point it no longer matters so much just how long you've been at it.

kbariotis profile image
Kostas Bariotis

I first saw a computer when I was 10, I wrote my first Visual Basic application almost a year later after I bought my first programming book "Visual Basic for Dummies". Programming became a hobby for me when I was a kid and once I understand that I could do that for a living, that was my epiphany. I devoted my life to being a highly paid professional by doing my hobby.

I was super bored in college mostly because I knew lots of the stuff. Not everything of course but I was quite ignorant believing that I did.

I don't think that I was bord a developer neither that I am ahead of my colleagues. I do though have the advantage mainly because I don't feel like working and I enjoy spending time outside my 9-5 to learn new things and advance my self.

Does that answer your question though? :)

chrisvasqm profile image
Christian Vasquez


Thanks for sharing your story :D

dpasi314 profile image
Dante Pasionek

To be frank, I started programming making plugins for Minecraft, that was back when I was in the 9th grade. I'm a Junior in college now, and I a lot of my peers also started the same way! Although I've digress from Java in favor of languages like C++ and Python, I'll always have that Java experience from all those plugins!

lpasqualis profile image
Lorenzo Pasqualis

No. I was born to "build stuff that requires creative ideation and hard work."
Software development was a perfect fit, but if I was born before computers, I'd have been something like a writer, architect or artist of some kind.

jj1bdx profile image
Kenji Rikitake

I started writing code in FORTRAN at age 9, at the same time I started learning and living in English, my second language. I didn't have a computer until age 14, so I need to write a lot of code on paper, though I could use a shared Apple ][ at a local department store at age 13, in 1978. So my first real experience of running and crashing code was at age 13, with Apple ][ 6K BASIC and the 6502 Assembler. My first C language experience was at age 20. My first real production level C++ and C# language experiences have begun at age 52 :), so I still need to learn a lot of things anyway.

Starting learning things at an early age has a distinct advantage. It will reduce unnecessary fear. Childhood experience is much easier to repeat at the later period of life. I still don't want to say, however, that I was born to be a dev. Writing code is essential part of my life, but that's not the only way to live it :)

Having learned old way of coding or problem solving can be an advantage sometimes, especially if you need to fix old equipment or a legacy piece of code. I don't think I'm ahead of my colleagues though because they know modern tools far better than I do. I know I need to learn a lot of GUI tools and Web design, and I'm in the process now.

It's nice to be able to earn some money by doing something I'm good at and like since my childhood, but that doesn't necessarily mean I don't have to learn new things; in fact, I always have to learn new things. It's hard, but fun. :)

dougmckechie profile image
Douglas McKechie • Edited

I don't know if I was "born" to be a developer, but I did start coding from a youngish age - 14 in the mid 90s - mostly copying QBasic code listings out of books from the local library and then altering then to see what happened.

I then got a copy of VB4 later in the 90s and self taught some windows app development, in this case mostly trying to create copies of windows games I liked, such as Chip's Challenge.

I also always enjoyed playing with the level editor / modding tools in games and creating my own maps or scenarios.

At Uni I think this did give me an advantage, I had been exposed to coding before, it was not a completely new and strange thing as it was for some students on the courses I took, so I always got good marks in those papers.

Do I feel like I am ahead of my colleagues because of it? No. I just had a chat with a few devs in the team here and some did start programming when young, others learned it when they did their course at Uni etc, but I think all of us are quite skilled in what we do.

So just because I fiddled around making some games when I was a kid does not make me way better web developer today than my colleagues. That said I suppose these days exposure to coding at a young age cannot hurt and may be helpful if kids want to go on to be developers in the IT industry.

ardennl profile image
Arden de Raaij • Edited

I thought I'd be a natural programmer for a while because a lot of family members were awesome with computers. My father was a network engineer, my mom a technical translator and my grandfather worked for IBM in the time they required a team from the USA to install a 10mb hard drive that would 'last them for decades to come'. Go figure.

With all the computers around, I enjoyed gaming, overclocking and tinkering around with hard- and software. I studied IT management and worked at help-desks and it wasn't until I started studying IT engineering that I got my wake-up call.

The whole studies already started out ominous as I didn't have the right qualifications and had to do an algebra summer course. I passed this course somehow, but it was a strong reminder on how bad I am at math.

When the study began and the actual programming started, things became even worse. I remember programming Java all day long and literally being the slowest of the class. While I was still trial and erroring my way around the first assignment (rendering a simple drawing of a house) my neighbor took it upon himself to make a calculator which was 'better than the default Windows one because it could calculate more numbers behind the comma' or some shit like that.

That was the moment I began understanding the difference between people who are natural programmers and... me. If I would continue the IT-engineering study, I would be making it really hard on myself. Things that seem to come natural to my classmates were a real struggle for me. It was pretty sobering because I was used to being good at everything without even trying too hard.

After three months I called it quits, and I'm glad I did so. After all, I've found my way to programming in another way!

Thank you for the interesting question!

chrisvasqm profile image
Christian Vasquez

Thank you for adding your story too :D

I wasn't expecting so many awesome replies to be honest, hahaha.

m1guelpf profile image
Miguel Piedrafita • Edited

Well, I'm 16 now, so I guess I can say I've been coding since I was little (because I'm little now :) However, I can't answer the second question, as I've never worked with another programmer.

reyesreg profile image
Reg Reyes

Nope, definitely not. I wanted to be a doctor ever since I was a kid, but when I went to Highschool, I found out it took forever to become one...and a lot of money. My parents were getting old (they still are), so I just chose anything. I was into MMORPGs at the time, so I opted for Computer Science (LOL)!

Good for me that I ended up liking my profession anyway. :)

luispcosta profile image
Luís Costa

I have not been coding since I was little. In fact, I only discovered coding right until before I decided to take a CS degree in college. I started coding by then (I was like 18, Im 24 now). I feel like we just need to define our own path. Learn as we go, and stop comparing ourselves to others. As long as you're doing the best you can, optimizing your own productivity and learning, you're doing ok. Don't feel pressured by trying to catch up with others or to try and be "ahead" of others. It's fruitless effort. Focus on yourself. Develop good habits and do the best work you can do. If you do that, you can't say that you were necessarily "born" to be a developer, but you were born to be a good worker, and that's good.

aurelkurtula profile image
aurel kurtula • Edited

My favorite toy as a kid (around the age of 9/10) was a rock!

Rocks are everywhere. Believe me, they are everywhere, I have held them, weighed them in my hand, swung them. They are everywhere.

However, the rock that I'm talking about was slightly bigger than my hand, smooth as marble, and shined in the sun.

When I found it, and after using it, I took it home and begged my mother to let me keep it indoors. Why couldn't I just chuck it somewhere outside? Because others would take it!

I'm not crazy!

All my past time (all the time I wasn't in school) I spend outside, and one of our favorite games was: a two-player game. Each has a rock. The first player throws his, the second player has to aim and touch the first players rock.

Now that you know the game, you realise I wasn't crazy. Finding the perfect rock that fits perfectly in your hand and it's just heavy enough to accommodate your swing was very hard. (Didn't The Dude have a bowling ball he kept home as well?)

I won few games with it, till someone banged his rock on mine so hard that my rock broke in half (even its insides were shiny :) )

So, hell no, I wasn't born to be a developer.

And you know what? Whenever I hear or read about amazing programmers that were born with a motherboard in their lap, I think of my childhood and, honestly I don't envy them at all. I also read comments like "it's not fair, others started early", or "I'm 12 is it too late". I think, I love programming, but I love my past!

I think at some point everyone should become a programmer! Virginia Woolf of all people, helped me realised I'm lucky to be a programmer. She wrote a diary entry about a lonely old woman that can't read or write, as a result when ever V met her, the old woman has the same things to say. V says if the old woman could read and write she'd have a richer life.
I know a lot of people that come home from work and just watch TV, or worst, they fall asleep with the TV on, I believe that would have been me if I wasn't a developer. Being a developer, banging my head against the wall and talking to the keyboard like a madman when code doesn't do what I need it to, has made me more curious, and more willing to be mentally active - even when I'm not coding, and even physically active.

Back home, when people retired everyone was kind of sad, "what will he do now!" When I came to UK, one of the support workers at school, computer savvy, retired. He had a radiant smile in his face as he spoke of his little shed with few computers and the plans he had.

Anyway, I wasn't born to be a developer, but I'm glad I'm one. And, I'd love to try my hands at other things at some point too.

(You should read @lpasqualis article 10 Top Reasons To Have a Career in Tech, especially points 5 through 10 relate to what I'm trying to say)

ardennl profile image
Arden de Raaij

Haha this was amazing to read, thanks for sharing! I'm definitely not 'born to be a programmer' either, but glad I ended up at this point. I always feel privileged earning money with what I do, and I love being able to build something out of nothing.

chrisvasqm profile image
Christian Vasquez

What an amazing story! Shut up and take my follow.

isaacdlyman profile image
Isaac Lyman

This is the funniest thing I've read all day. Great job.

msoedov profile image
Alex Miasoiedov

I was not born as a developer and hope I will die not as a developer in one of black mirror scenario :)

jetfighter profile image
Maxim Korotkov

First started thinking of programming in the first year of my university. My speciality is Information Security, but i didn't like the program so bad (there was no coding whatsoever), that i decided to start learning programming myself. Python as a friends recommendation, then freecodecamp, then i decided that i am into web development. Sieged Udemy and started eating frontend courses one after another. Currently learning React, still have no job, but whatever - i will struggle through.

kayis profile image

It was a bit mixed with me.

I feel like I started a bit earlier than most devs I know, but I have the feeling that I'm not as smart as most devs.

I hope I make up missing intelligence by being more passionate than the average dev and having a bit of a head start, lol.

I bought my first computer, a C64, with 8. I played around a bit with BASIC, but didn't build anything much more advanced than a "hello world" with it.

Later I got a PC, when I was 11 or something, and did basically nothing coding related till I was like 14. Then I started doing some scripting and mapping (which also included scripting) for games like Duke Nuken 3D and Halflife. I also did some simple games with Flash, but nothing too big. I was more into the whole administration stuff back then. Build PCs, setup OS, tweaked the OS for games, setup some FTP servers and stuff for filesharing.

Wrote some IRC bots in mIRC-Script when I was 16 and did some websites in HTML/CSS in that year.

Later I tried some web stuff in PHP, guess when I was like ... I don't know 19 or so.

Got my first internship as web developer when I was 21.