DEV Community 👩‍💻👨‍💻

Cover image for How old have you been when you started programming and what was your first project?
Kai Neuwerth
Kai Neuwerth

Posted on

How old have you been when you started programming and what was your first project?

When I was about 14 I got in touch with Photoshop and "designed" some themes for Woltlab Burning Board 2 (if someone of you even knows this) in my sparetime. After the designing I also wanted to write the templates and CSS for it. I adopted some other CMS and did the same there but my dream was always to become a web designer. So I did an internship and realized that I can't force myself to be creative 8 hours per day.

I did another internship in the same company as developer. I knew HTML and CSS quite okay but PHP came on top. My first project there was a guestbook with an administration panel. Simple CRUD things with self written BB code parser (str_replace ROCKED 🤘!!!), fancy gif smileys, pagination and SQLi + XSS prevention (I exaggerate a bit 😛).

I'm curious what your first project was!

Top comments (72)

dmfay profile image
Dian Fay

I was about 8 in the early-to-mid 90s. My father subscribed to the Sky & Telescope astronomy magazine, and one issue published the code listing for a simple three-body gravitational simulation in BASIC, so one afternoon he and I copied it down and got it running. That was the first; other early hits include the obligatory mucking around in GORILLA.BAS, an abortive text adventure after the style of Colossal Cave, and trying to port simpler C listings for fractal generators into BASIC with some success -- I could grasp the program structure and translate the algorithms, but couldn't handle C's more complex toolchain and lack of a dead-simple PSET to plot a pixel.

citizen428 profile image
Michael Kohl

Copying pages full of BASIC listings from magazines is something I did too. Always fun to find the typos later 😂

stephanie profile image
Stephanie Handsteiner

I know WBB2, back then WoltLab's community was pretty much limited to the DACH region, I guess.

I actually started modding the lite version when I was around 11, together with two online friends I built quite the community around some kids' chatroom. :D

Then, when gaming clans boomed around here I switched to a certain CMS and I worked with designers to make templates (and later even addons) for it.

mpjtn profile image

35, printing 'wtf' to the console.

crease29 profile image
Kai Neuwerth Author • Edited on

With that CMS you mean Clansphere or Ilch? 😛

stephanie profile image
Stephanie Handsteiner • Edited on

Neither. webspell, I knew Ilch pretty well too, though. :)

Hmm, thinking about it, we had quite a few CMS that were centred around gaming.

Thread Thread
crease29 profile image
Kai Neuwerth Author

Oh yes, I also remember webSPELL! The old times... 🙂

math2001 profile image

Hum, it was in BASIC (not even on a proper computer, it was more like a big calculator). I was maybe about 10-11 years old.

All pick 2 random numbers between 0 and 10 and ask you what their product was, and checked if it was right.

Catch: you could only have one program at a time. If you want to make a new thing, erase everything first!.

jacoby profile image
Dave Jacoby

As a freshman in college, 1988, I found that the school I attended did not require the two years of foreign language I took, but instead wanted a class on computer (BASIC on DOS) literacy. So I took a remedial course my first semester.

I was a gamer and occasional DM at the time, so I wrote a tool to print off a page or so of random 1-6 numbers. And then I did it again, and got the same list of "random" numbers. Computers are deterministic and don't really understand random, so you must seed your random number generators. (Plus, for crypto, use the small remainders of key punching times or a webcam pointed at a lava lamp or something.)

I also developed code that would allow me to easily switch between 1-6 and 1-12 or 1-20 (because AD&D needed all available dice styles) but the GOTOs jumping in and out were frustrating and weird, making me understand why people prefer subroutines rather than GOTOs, which are "considered harmful".

I then didn't write another thing for something like seven years, while using computers constantly.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

Perhaps it's because I grew up with computers, but my favorite thing about DnD is that it takes me away from computers. 😄

jacoby profile image
Dave Jacoby

1988 was a different time.

Usage would be I scratch off "used" random numbers so the lack of rolling behind the screen would begin to worry the players.

coryswainston profile image
Cory Swainston • Edited on

In 2012 I was a sophomore in high school taking trigonometry and I hated it. I had some games on my TI-84 graphing calculator and found I could view and edit the code. I think the language is TI BASIC or something like that. I ended up making a full fledged blackjack game that semester. I wish I still had the calculator because I'm sure the code was awful-- I had no concept of a for loop or any basic programming principles. All my variable names were single letters

dmfay profile image
Dian Fay

Saving space is important when you only have 32kb to work with! I would shave off extra bytes by omitting closing parentheses -- perfectly legal in TI-BASIC. It's obscene that the same thing I used in high school a decade and a half ago still costs $100.

hudsonburgess7 profile image
Hudson Burgess

Yes! Those TI-84 games were the bomb!

And yes, my code was terrible as well. Working entirely with global variables, clunky syntax, and an 8 line screen is slightly less than ideal :P

hudsonburgess7 profile image
Hudson Burgess

I got sidetracked in math class when I was 14 figuring out how to program my TI-84. I played with that for a year or two before I wrote any code on a real computer.

My first projects were prank programs on other people’s calculators that returned wrong answers. The best one? Replacing the output of trig functions with random values. No one understood trig yet, so they didn’t know...

(I have since moved on to less dastardly deeds)

brianaruff profile image
Brian Ruff

I was about 13 or 14 years old. I used to go to Books-A-Million about once a month. One trip I saw the C++ for Dummies book and had my mom buy it for me. I only made one program in it and that was a F to C and C to F temperature converter. I didn't understand what I was doing so I stopped messing with programming. That is, until a year ago. Now I'm in Lambda School for computer science and web dev. But I did work as a FED fora company building out and Styling their React components only that company flopped 6 months before my contract ended.

mxl profile image
Maria Boldyreva

I built my first website in the 5th grade. I don't remember what it was about, but I fell in love with the process. Then over the years I built some websites and did some freelance work.

Then, at 21, I often used a language learning website and I didn't like it how the team treated the users and how slow they were to implement new features. I thought that I would manage to build such a platform for myself by myself. I knew I would fail, but I wanted to try. I knew nothing about web programming and what technology I needed, so I opened their vacancies and saw that they were hiring senior Django developers. This is how I learned about Django. Then I opened Django tutorial and started building. I finished the website in eight months, three months after I landed my first job as a Python backend developer.

eljayadobe profile image
Eljay-Adobe • Edited on

I started programming in 1976. I worked on a Model 33 Teletype dialed into an HP 2000 Timeshare System minicomputer, over a 110 baud acoustic coupler modem, which was part of the TIES system. The programming language was HP 2000A BASIC. The first program that I worked on (not that I created it, I added to it) was Oregon Trail. I was 10 years old, and would stay at school until 9pm every night until the janitors kicked me out to lock up.

alexgwartney profile image
Alex Gwartney

I started programming around 17 in high school. My first program I built was a small maze type game in game maker. And then right after that I started working in rpg maker and built a bigger game demo. For a state wide game competition. And it pretty much took off from there.

purcola profile image
Pablo Urcola

When I was 15, I was very lucky to have a teacher for the high school "computers" course that, instead of word and excel, taught us how to program in BASIC. He even gave us some Computer Science knowledge (sorting algorithms and others).
We were so excited that we used to do extra programming classes in the afternoon so the teacher proposed to create a program to compute the D'Hondt method for allocating seats in the local election.
The election day we were present in the counting process taking samples and using them as inputs in our program. We even won a price for that project.
That was my first programming project.

ghost profile image

I had a ZX-81 in the 80's, with BASIC and 1K RAM. My neighbor Simon and I used to type programs into it from magazines, one character at a time into that membrane keyboard. Then we'd save them to cassette tapes.

Later we added a 16k RAM extension. By that time, Simon was programming in hex, which he'd dictate and I'd type. I became the typist at that stage, awestruck how he'd come up with all these codes that were drawing lines, sprites etc.

While typing, you had to be careful not to bump the RAM extension pack, which plugged into the back of the ZX-81. If you bump it, you could break the plug's electrical contact, which would clear the RAM. Then you'd be back to square one, and have to start typing your program again. So we used lots of blu-tac around the RAM pack to lock it in place.

d1p profile image
Debashis Dip

I was 15 at that time. I used to chat on a mobile application called mig33 where people can join in a chat room and chat. There were some people who created some software that could log into multiple ids, join a room and flood them with a huge amount of messages! Because at that time mobiles were pretty weak (Talking about the j2me apps) most of the peoples' app will be hanged and crushed 😈They were the gods of those time.
So they used to sell that software and I basically had no money and I asked one for free, and got rejected badly. (There was lots of chat room drama involved).
So I decided that I will finally learn how to code and create my own version of that software. 🐸
That was the beginning, bought a visual basic 6 book from a book reseller. Learned how to code, shamelessly asked for help as much as I can and vollah created my own software 😬

dgbrewer1989 profile image
David Brewer

I was 13 or 14 and my uncle gave me a book on C++ and using that book I made a small application to lock files behind a small password protected and age protected menu. (I was the oldest and only I was allowed to see these cool Linux distro pictures I found!)

Besides that I made a small application to write to text files instead of using Notepad because it was cool to me back then.

I don't know if you would call that a "project" really but that's my first memory of anything that felt like a complete product for me.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

When I was around 12 or 13 my friend started a Geocities site for his band and a group of kids in my junior high also started a cute little clothing store with a website.

These things got me really into HTML and website building and I learned a lot. I even got into PHP a bit, but never developed much of an understanding of it at that stage.

I never had any of this stuff nourished though. I got a lot of "why don't you go play outside?". So I kind of lost interest for about six or seven years before gradually picking back up programming.

Had I been encouraged I probably could have become one of these prodigies, but I'm pretty happy with how things worked out. I have a pretty well-rounded set of skills and interests to complement the coding stuff.

moimikey profile image
Michael Scott Hertzberg

9 years young. HotBot was a search engine that offered free web pages. This was when Lycos and Earthlink were around and you had your Compaq Presario computer that you bought from The Wiz or Circuit City. I used to learn how to do html at or PHP3 was a thing and it was awful. We're at PHP 7 now.

sleepyfran profile image
Fran González

I started when I was around 15-16, back at that age Sims 3 just got out and my first project was a launcher that automatically cracked the game and started it so people wouldn’t need to know how to do such thing. I originally made it with a software called AutoPlay Media Studio since I knew nothing about programming and eventually reworked it in C#/.NET. It actually did well and had quite a lot of downloads. Oh, the wonders of being a teenager with no money...

mauran profile image
Mauran Muthiah

I was 12 years old, trying out a lot of CMS'es(PHP-fusion was my first one). Just babbled with HTML/CSS/PHP for some years, until i saw the movie The Social Network. It wanted me to make my own social network, so i did. It was quite awesome, i had like 60+ users and it was fun! When i look back on the sourcecode, i realize how much far i've gone. Time flies.

lefebvre profile image
Paul Lefebvre

I first learned to program in Atari BASIC on an Atari 400 in the early 80s. My first real BASIC project was something that added DOS commands to BASIC which I submitted to ANALOG Magazine (it was rejected). I also made a few simple games. I moved on to the Atari ST when I went to college and coded in Pascal and C.

My first project I ever publicly released was JumpSTART written in Personal Pascal for the Atari ST. I've just recently put the original Pascal source on GitHub.

teej profile image
TJ Fogarty

I was 18 when I started learning Java in college, so my first project wouldn't have been long after it. I can't really remember what it was, though.

My first paid project was after college when I was 22. It was a responsive WordPress site which is still floating around the web somewhere.

link2twenty profile image
Andrew Bone

When I was a kid, 13 ~ 14 sort of age, I started playing around with GameMaker which used its own language (GML). I wasn't allowed the internet at home so had to print out pages from the school library and take them home.

Fun times!

jacobtstaggs profile image
Jacob Staggs

Was around 17, was into a game called "Garry's Mod" and was interested in creating an add-on for the servers I was running. Created a lottery system in lua and ended up falling in love with programming and knew then I was going to get a degree in CS.

kayis profile image
K (he/him)

"Hello, world!"-level stuff with BASIC on my C64 when I was 8.

HalfLife scripting when I was 13.

First HTML page with 16.

First PHP page I got paid when I was 21.

washingtonsteven profile image
Steven Washington • Edited on

I was about 10 or 11 when I was learning HTML and CSS to build my Neopet a Petpage. After that I branched off into Javascript and set up a page on Geocities, and moving over to game programming with a book called Game Programming for TEENS when I was 12. Because I'm a rebel at heart.

After that I taught myself some flash scripting, took a CS course sophomore year of college in Java, leading to AP CS. Went to college for CS (and then switched to the new game dev major). Got a job making branded Flash/Unity games, and then making CMS-backed websites.

weirdmayo profile image
Daniel Mayovsky

I was 16. I had an idea to gift my dad a website for his birthday. I spend 3 months writing that website and never finished. I got hooked into web-development, and later on into programming over all. I love it and been doing it for 3 years now and it never gets boring. Hoping to get my degree and do my favorite thing for another 30 years or more :)

martyhimmel profile image
Martin Himmel

My first real project was probably when I was 22. I say real, because I made an attempt to learn C++ before that, but couldn't wrap my head around pointers and references at the time (I think partly because the book I used didn't explain practical usage of them very well). I dabbled with batch and config files for Windows 3.1/DOS 6.22 throughout my teen years, but those weren't really projects. More of curiosity in what they do and how to tweak some settings.

Anyway, back to my 22 year old self. I was playing a lot of Diablo 2 at the time. One day, while looking around for some info on the game, I thought it would be cool to make my own site. So, I started looking for online HTML tutorials. I ended up creating this terrible looking site built completely with table layouts (I didn't know about CSS at the time) and had an absolute blast doing it.

Anything more than HTML wasn't until I was 26 or 27 (late 2000s). I picked up CSS, PHP, and MySQL around then and started more in depth projects.

pavonz profile image
Andrea Pavoni • Edited on

I was ~20-21yo at the end of the '90s. My very first approach to programming happened when I discovered that it was possible to modify mIRC through scripting. I didn't own a PC, I was using a Windows 9x box at home. My goal was to learn Unix and Linux, so I've installed a RedHat on a "disk image hosted on Windows", and booted through floppy-disk.

I was learning programming for the first time with mIRC and I've found it exciting, however 1) I wasn't interested in Windows ecosystem at all and 2) unfortunately mIRC scripting wasn't usable outside mIRC itself.

After some days, I picked K&R and started learning C, then TCL/Tk, then Python (because even if Perl had that lovely C-like syntax, I considered it unreadable :-P), and bash, and PHP and many others for the last 20 years.

Good memories! ;-)

bgadrian profile image
Adrian B.G.

I saw and understood that Basic is used to make games on cassette players like HC, but I didn't wrote code.

My first project was in 9th grade, a 4k LOC game of stategy-move Pac-Man in Pascal with single and 2 players


n0ob__ profile image

By the age of 21, i was trying to understand what this thing called programming was. The first thing i discovered was that it was done with Delphi (yes, but not) and it was the 'hello world'. But i stopped there, my English was terrible and i just didnt know what to search in my native language.
My first computer contact was when I was 20, because decided to save money to buy one, i dont know what i had in my head at the time. And today i am graduated in computer science, with my 26 years.

slavius profile image
Slavius • Edited on

I was like 7-8? Got this personal microcomputer with BASIC on it. I discovered there is a banana.bas - a monkey throwing bananas game there. I started modifying it and learning from it's source code. Then I tried writing my own BASIC code doing mostly graphic output (overlapping circles, sinusoids, etc.). My real first programm was at 11-12 when I was learning ASM I wrote a loading screen similar to Windows 95 with moving bar at the bottom. Boy I spent pulling my hair out trying to figure out how the VGA palletes work in ASM... :D

citizen428 profile image
Michael Kohl

Haha, I remember doing CLI applications with interfaces similar to Borland Turbo Pascal/C and being so proud when learning how to use interrupt 33h for adding some basic mouse interactions.

xowap profile image
Rémy 🤖

About 7, started with "guess a number between 0 and 100" then copied shitloads of BASIC games with line numbers in front of the lines. That was the real shit and I'm happy to see so many people agreeing :)

emanuelmarttt profile image
Emanuel Martinez • Edited on

At 10-11. In that time I used to hack 'Pet Society' game from tutorials in English. So I created simples code generators with HTML+CSS+PHP in Spanish to help my friends in primary school

My first formally project come when I was 17 years old. I created a Android app to calculate the price of a taxi trip with Cordova and a PHP API

citizen428 profile image
Michael Kohl • Edited on

Early 90s, I guess I was around 12 or so, Commodore Basic on my C64, it was a text adventure because I hadn't yet learned to do sprite graphics. Never finished it.

crhissuriel profile image
Crhistopher Suriel • Edited on

I started with c/c++ at 18 just printing weird stuff in the console (like ascii art). After that noved to HTML and CSS by trying to replicate magazines into static pages.

genejams profile image

My bro' was buying video games magazines in 1983 and one year later we were copying BASIC code listings from those magazines on a Vic=20.

In turn one was reading out loud, the other typing... very slowly.

It could have taken hours to copy the listing and hours to fix errors.

Initially we didn't have any media to store the work, so you can imagine what a pain every time there was a black out =/ =)

Then we got a tape recorder and we used to steal old jazz music tapes from our dad to save and exchange programs and games with other friends.

I don't remember my very first project. Probably a "master mind" game for the C=64 a few years later.

I still keep my first games (cartridges) along with all magazines, a Pong TV game (1978 I think), a Vic=20, a C=64 and an Amiga 4000 =)

Vic=20 cartridges

sarulon profile image
sarulon • Edited on

I started when I was was 34, year ago :)
My first program was video Downloader
I used python and gui was tkinter, python build in package

thomasjunkos profile image
Thomas Junkツ • Edited on

My first code was in 1982/83 on a Sinclair ZX81.It was a number guessing game. I was 7/8 at the time.

sudiukil profile image
Quentin Sonrel • Edited on

Most likely 14 with my first bash scripts, can't remember what for exactly.

As for "real" programming, I'd say around 15, that's when I seriously started learning C (and Python), my first project was:

Sudiukil / c3status

Lightweight status line generator for i3bar


c3status is a simple status line generator for i3bar written in C.

The main goal of c3status is to be simple to understand and easily extensible by writing functions and recompile the code, which allow you to display almost anything in your status bar c3status is designed to be as lightweight as possible by using system calls and by getting info at a low level without needing to run shell commands.

Current and planned features

Even if c3status aims to be extensible by anyone using it, I obviously wrote some functions for my personal use, and I plan to write some more, here is what is currently available and what will probably be:

  • Basic infos
    • System time and/or date
    • Alsa volume
  • System infos
    • CPU usage
    • CPU temperature
    • RAM usage (in %)
    • GPU temperature
    • Disks usage (in %)
  • Network infos
    • Network download and upload speed
    • Wifi ESSID
    • Wifi signal percentage

Never really "finished" it though 😢 I stopped developing it at the "it works for me and no one will ever use it anyway" point ahah. I've been meaning to rewrite it in C++ for years but never took the time to do so.

sadpixel profile image

I was 11 and writing AI scripts for Age Of Empires II. Ah! Fond memories ❤

jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy • Edited on

Aged 7, back in 1983, on the ZX Spectrum 48K. My first totally self-authored program was a guessing game where the user had to guess the winner in a fight between Superman, Spiderman, and Wonder Woman! 😝

ramlev profile image
Hasse R. Hansen

1985 commodore 64 and some pascal, and later assembler

puritanic profile image
Darkø Tasevski

Around 13 years old, can't remember exactly, I've "programmed" campaign for Warcraft III :D After that I wrote several scripts for Ikariam browser game.

asparallel profile image

6, snake game in qbasic on an xt 286.

jackharner profile image
Jack Harner 🚀

I wanna say I was like 10 or 11 but my dad was walking me through how to make Tic Tac Toe in Excel's Visual BASIC. For whatever reason we didn't finish it, but I went back recently and did it with JavaScript

Code is probably no where near optimized

tux0r profile image

11, some batch script to automatize... something I don't remember.

venkateshbella7 profile image
Venkatesh bellale

I was 11 years old and the first program i created was a simple quiz game using batch script.

_patrickgod profile image
Patrick God

I was like.. 7? And I made a text adventure in QBasic. Great times. :)

stevensonmt profile image
stevensonmt • Edited on

Age:35. Got bored after medical school and learned a little bit of Ruby and Python. Made some pyautogui scripts for first "real" (albeit small) project.

khalyomede profile image

I was 18, I started to program in FlowCode at school, really cool stuff back then... Thanks for bringing me to my childhood!

zeddotes profile image

QBASIC in grade 4. I vividly remember being blown away by the tech.

🌚 Browsing with dark mode makes you a better developer by a factor of exactly 40.

It's a scientific fact.