Why did you get into programming, and how old were you? It'd certainly be interesting to see the reasons for a large sample of programmers.


I first started when I was 6. I was at a science club type thing (yeah, yeah, I was a nerd even then), and we were taking apart computers to see how they were made. After that, we were shown a computer with a cool picture on it. It was the Mandelbrot fractal, and the teacher-type-person said that if anyone wants to know how to make one for ourself, we should take this handout.

In the handout, there was this 3k line QBASIC program, along with an explaination of how to run it, how to alter it, etc. When I got home, it took me a day to type it in; and it took something like 7 minutes to render on a 640x480 resolution. I then started to play around with it, and was hooked.

+1  A: 

I got started making custom ZZT levels with friends when I was in the 4th grade.



I didn't have a clue of what to study, and my then girlfriend decided for "Informatics" ( very similar to SE ) and so did I ( wanting to spend more time with her )

So at age of 18 a saw my first source code. It was pascal.

I'm 30 now and not regrets at all!!.

+1  A: 

My friend dug up QBASIC on his computer when we were about 14, and he taught me the commands INPUT, IF...THEN...ELSE and GOTO (that being all he knew). I loved the idea of making things work, so I played around with it a bit, teaching myself from the help file.

+1  A: 

I got started with a math book and my trusty TI-82 that the teacher had lent all of us for the year. Naturally, being in the 8th grade at the time, it didn't take me long to discover the "GetKey" command and program my first version of Pong, completely from scratch, which crashed at 204 score every time due to a memleak. By the end of that year, I had a full blown BASIC simulation of a pokemon battle going, and it just kind of grew from there.

My first experience with programming on a PC actually came with Visual Basic 6.0. I took up the language myself (small school, no Programming teacher) and went to compete in BPA, where I then proceeded to make it to Nationals competition 3 years during high school. At this point, I was programming in basically all of my free time, and in time (during my Sophomore year if I remember) I began to learn the C programming language so that I could work with homebrew on the GBA. That was when I truly began to program, and I've been going strong ever since.

Nicholas Flynt

mIRC client. Weird but true.

Had its own language which was pretty cool.

+1  A: 

1979, I was 10. My Dad brought home an Apple ][+. I took some classes with the scientists at Hughes Aircraft and started programming. Totally hooked.

Michael McCarty
+1  A: 

My parents bought a Commodore VIC-20 when I was 8 y/o. I started programming by typing in and modifying those BASIC games you could get in magazines.

Booji Boy
+1  A: 

Oh man, that was a while ago ... umm ... 1977, 2nd last year of high school, Canon Canola calculator with punched cards. Programmed a Fibonnaci sequence. Wrote the flowchart in the sand on a trip to the beach.


You know, I really have no idea what got me started. I don't even remember when I first heard about computers (at a guess, reading Popular Mechanics or Scientific American), but it was immediately obvious to me (at 8 years old or so) that programming was where I wanted to be. Prior to that, I had dabbled in electronics, and building things from Lego, but the computer was like a construction toy where you could make any kind of part you wanted.

I pestered my parents to buy me a computer pretty much from the moment microcomputers became available. If my parents had had more disposable income, I might have been one of those crazy guys with a hand-built Altair 8800 in the basement. As it was, I had to wait a few years, until computers could be bought pre-assembled :-)

Mark Bessey

Wanted to make better games. Saw all the limitations of the games at that time(which mostly still exist. >.<)

Paul Nathan

I wanted to capture the magic smoke.

Still trying, but I'm getting closer I swear!

Unleashing it is easy, capturing it is hard.

+1  A: 

Most programmers I meet have an engineering and/or mathematical bent, even if they've never formally studied those disciplines.

But not me. I got into programming through linguistics, and in particular, grammar. I've always been fascinated by the grammar of exotic languages. Once you grok the intricacies of Ojibwe, Latin, or Yoruba, programming languages aren't terribly difficult. (At least not for me. In my 40 years on this planet, I've met many linguists who understood exotic grammars perfectly, but couldn't code their way out of a paper bag. Weird.)

Gregory Higley
Well, just because you can read a book in a foreign language doesn't mean you'd be able to write one in a foreign language.
I can only read a handful of foreign languages. When you study grammar as a linguist it's like studying the mechanics of race cars: You understand how they work, but it doesn't make you a good driver. In fact, you may not even WANT to drive.
Gregory Higley

My friend in school. He was so good at programming. He inspired me a lot.

+8  A: 

For the girls. No better thing to do to pickup chicks.

Yes - this is a joke - it is a duplicate question in my opinion.
I met my wife through computer engineering courses in college. So it worked for me. =)
Sergio Acosta

I'm a perfectionist who wants the computer to do my bidding. I have many ideas which needs to be implemented. Hence, programming.

To me, programming is the same as doing things manually, except that it's much faster. I think of it as a form of outsourcing and expression of creativity.


My first computer was a an Apple Macintosh LC III which I was given as a tool to help me write (I have a physical disability which prvents me from writing, so i shall never know the joys of a white board), as I was so young it was heavily secured using a product by the name of At Ease which is basically a highly restrictive replacement for the Finder.

I have a vague memory of my granddad showing me the BEEP function in a very early version of Claris Works (Mac office suite), i thought this was THE most amazing thing EVER. I could make something quack whenever I wanted.

A few years later (possibly age 5) the LC III went and was replaced by a Mac PowerBook 9500C which had a different security system (SnartStuff FoolProof) that just placed restrictions on Finder, this let me discover AppleScript which I could use to make the computer crash in interesting ways, I liked doing this, it wasn't coding per se, but I think it was the precursor to it.

Skip forward a few years, the Mac has gone, replaced by the very new windows 98 SE, it was here that my adventures really began when in 1999 I received a copy of QBASIC for dummies

My first program went something like this


From there I dabbled with HTML C++ JavaScript VBScript PHP and finally C# where I am today, it is the first language I have ever really felt comfortable in and I am enjoying learning the concepts of software design.

+1  A: 

I got a Commodore 64 when I was ten. My brother suggested that I read the entire book before playing too much with the computer, and then read it again trying all the examples.

One or two years later I made software my dad used at his office.

Years later I learned Java basically the same way: I read a book about it.

Today my job is software development, and I consider my job as my greatest hobby.


The movie "War Games" :) Yeah, seriously. My parents had an old IBM PC jr, which had 128K of ram and no hard drive. Everything ran off 5 1/4" floppies. After watching that movie, I wrote a DOS batch file that would dump the "games" list to the screen. I was in elementary school at the time.


a friend had a ZX 80 and we would take the listing out of a magazine and code them up.

Oh the joy of that...

Also other friends had Dragon 32 - BBC-B and we had a Commodore PET (Orange screen) at junior school (that was just a mythical beast).

I had first an intrest in electronics - but learning to code HEX on chips was a pain.

Real Programming came when started in websites in 93 at UNI - a lecture lent me a C/C++ book then when got out of UNI (was on a psych degree) got a real job as IT support and started to learn SQL then junior programmer learning VB4.

Then C/C++, Java, VB5-6 then C# ... ah sigh the fun of it all...


They said that the dark side had cookies


I started making custom levels for zdoom when I was 16.

It has a scripting language called ACS that is quite similar to a stripped-down version of C. Supports arrays, conditionals, loops, and has a decent documentation, which was a good place to start for me for that time.

I also got familiarized with a widely used syntax, which helped me later learning C# and PHP for example.


I used to spend my Saturday mornings wandering round the town centre looking at stuff I couldn't afford to buy. Being a young geek I like to visit John Menzies to look at the books... then one day I stumbled across a Vic20 plugged in to a monitor, "Oooh, that looks interesting!" I learned my first bit of basic programming in the shop.

I swiftly persuaded my father to jump on the bandwagon, because computers were the future! To be honest, I didn't learn to use my Vic20 to do my homework - I really just wanted to play games. A short time later, when the ZX Spectrum came on the market I dumped my Vic like a hot potato! I joined a local Computer Club, seemingly run by kids, and we learned how to copy and hack the copy protection from games :O


When arriving at uni, I was a total noob with computers. Then I had to learn Turbo Pascal. I hates programming for a couple of years. At the same time, I discovered the Internet and online gaming. I became involved in the development of an web-based MMORPG (on the design and game mechanisms side). Later on as university pushed some OOP lessons to me, I started enjoying programming a bit more (yeah to Java, argh to C++ and Assembly).

1 + 1 = 2 and I decided to help the development of the online game so I started programming in PHP. From that point, I really enjoyed programming. I then expanded my ranges of skills through database and even wrote my master thesis for the Computer Science department of my university as i could mix both technical IT aspects and my passion of that period: my online game.

After uni, I found a food job as programmer for embedded MCU. I worked there for 3 years before definitively quiting programmer as a job. I still code in PHP for my game anyway.


I started programming at the age of 11, on an Atari 800XL, it had a basic interpreter.


I started programming to show my dad that he didn't buy me C64 just for games. But he did! As I remember, all I've made on C64 was some textual poker game. I think I was 9 years old.


Why? Hmm, I don't know, heheh. When? Age 10 or 11, Grade 5. Pascal.


Games! Definitely games. I was 13 years old.

Mark Stock

I was inspired by a Linux hacker i met in 1999. He said programming allows you to dictate to your computer what you want it to do, rather than let your computer dictate to you what's possible. He also said after a few years of coding you can read the code as if it's English. He was right in both cases and i've loved the challenge and learning experience for the last 9 years.

Gary Willoughby

It was fate. a cross between my zenith, the game Nibbles and Qbasic. I played the game so much and mastered it and just had to make it harder... well not really for me but for all the neighbors kids that kept coming home to play it. So i made the game run much faster when they played it but it was also a breeze for me with a simple cheat programmed into it.

Steve Obbayi

I was barely a teenager when I started typing in programs from computer magazines, and since there was a limited supply of games and other software available for the Dragon where I lived, I ended up writing quite a bit of software on my own.

Ola Eldøy

I was about 12 - there weren't any games easily available for the Apple II that my dad bought, so I started learning BASIC so that I could have something to play. If I remember correctly, I wrote a crappy Asteroids clone and a WWII game where you had to shoot down a bomber at night before it destroyed the factory. I spent far more time debugging that playing, so not much has changed in the intervening 30 years :)


1995-1996 (11 years old then)

I learned how to play music in QBasic BASIC compiler


Jader Dias

Chess AI and algorithmic game theory at age 14.

I got my first PC in 1995; around the same time, I wrote a lot of .bat files and some HTML with javascript.

What really got me into programming was this: I was playing in the local chess club, and a guy from the club had written a chess-playing program, which I thought was totally awesome and I wanted to do that too. This is shortly after the Kasparov vs. Deep Blue match (1997).

So, over the spring and summer of 1998 (being 14-almost-15 at the time), I mail back and forth with this guy, asking basically "how did you do it" and getting back the answer "C; here are some compiler names: [...]" and the source code.

So I grab a web tutorial, a danish book on C (plus K&R2 a little later), and start hacking away. [I never wrote a chess-playing program, actually].

Jonas Kölker

I wanted to impress my mom. Now she does her cooking through encapsulation.


Knowing there has got to be a better way to perform menial office tasks.


I was 7 and we had bought and Amstrad 464 with a tape drive! But it wasn't until I saw the movie "electric dreams" that I decided I wanted to make the computer as smart as the one in the movie!!

Well I got around to displaying ASCII Christmas trees using basic, and that's what got me started! Next thing I knew, I bought a book like "101 Programs for your Amstrad" and typed them all in! Stored them in my tapes and that's how I became acquainted with the software world...

Nikos Steiakakis

Started programming on my Amstrad CPC-464 when i was about 8 or 9 years old! Typing in lots of programs from various magazines - hundreds and hundreds of lines sometimes!

Moved onto Pascal at college, wrote a program which modelled organic molecules in 3-D, used it in Chemistry lessons for a few years after I left.

Learnt a bit of SPSS while working for Fire Service during summer holidays.

Self-taught in HTML which got me my current job as a SAS developer. Gone on to learn PHP & Javascript and integrating web-based front-ends with SAS processes :-)


How old: I was 13 or 14 - when I really started programming Why: cood question - I wanted to develop something cool ... so I attended a special school (with 13 or 14), that was specialized in computing (programming, database-design, alogrithm, special-math classes, etc.). So there I was writing

void main (void) { printf("hello world..."); }

(yes - I started with C)

What can I say - since then a lot of time went by and programming languages/technologies as well ;)

+2  A: 

At the age of 8, my elementary school got a couple of Commodore 64s. My father worked at the school, and so I spent hours after school there playing with it.

20 GOTO 10

eventually got boring, and by age 10 I had learned about sprites, interrupts, and my favorite: SYS 64738.

La Cabra
I came in here to post the same example :)I thought it was cool how two little lines of text could make my Apple II do that so I decided to investigate the whole concept further.
64738... one of many magic C=64 numbers evoking special memories. Thanks for posting!

My unofficial answer is "I wanted to meet lots of hawt guys".

Officially, my dad was an airplane mechanic in the Air Force for 15 years. He wasn't moving up and got bored with his career, so he made a switch to microcomputer science. When he was getting his degree, he'd bring home programming books -- VB5 in particular -- and show me little programs he made. The first program he showed me he displayed a square on screen, you'd click on it and it turned into a triangle, you'd click on it again and it became a square. REMARKABLE!

So when my dad was at work, I'd take his books and go through page by page, teaching myself how to make the program do my bidding. I was probably 11 or 12 at the time. My first "real" program used a timer to spell out curse words on screen -- my parents weren't quite as proud of that as I was, but it got me hooked.

I started programming as a hobby, which later spiraled out of control and turned into a career right out of high school.


I've always been interested in computers ever since I was probably about 7 so when I got into high school and I found out that there was a programming class I signed up and started programming QBasic, it wasn't that interesting at first because we only made ASCII art things and tables, but when we got to graphics that's when it became fun, but now I use a way more up-to-date program C++ :D


I think it's very cool . So I learned it .


I was 19 when I remarked during my design study coding is fun (PHP). Now I'm working as FE developer..


My teachers told me that i was good in math and logic. So they encouraged me to take a degree in computer science. I bought it. Once i've been there, i realized that they were wrong. LOL. But 6 years in college cannot be rolled back in any way. So i just continue being a programmer and i continue programming until now. Eventually i learn to enjoy programming. It's great pleasure to solve problems and that's what motivates me now.