I'm curious how other developers "got into" developing.

I'm sure for some of you it was something you knew you wanted to work with all the time. I know there have to be people out there who had some sort of life experince or epiphany that turned them towards the light!

My event was during an internship as an Occupational Health & Safety gopher at Pratt & Whitney. One of my tasks involved tracking hazardous waste from all the manufacturing facilities around the world. Here I discovered the power of MS Excel macros and programming with VBA to manipulate data and automate tasks. I went back to college and changed my cirruculum (as a last semester senior at the time, sorry Dad) to get a degree in CS.

+4  A: 

I knew that I wanted to program when I first typed a program from the back of Compute! magazine and got a free game.

I was discouraged by my Mom ("Computer programmers don't make any money!"), and even though I explored other career paths, I was drawn to computers like a moth to a flame.

Mike Brown
"Computer programmers don't make any money!" - Quote for awsome
Simon Buchan
Yeah I tease her about that all the time now.
Mike Brown
Lol my parents told that to me too. +1
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I had choice to take chemistry or a computer class... when I took the computer class I never look back! I was very interested about having control over a machine :)

+4  A: 

This sounds corny, but when I read the book "Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine" in about 1967. I was probably 9-years old at the time, and the idea of having a machine that did my homework for me was very appealing.

I didn't actually get to try programming until high school. Fortran on punch cards with reams of blue bar paper for output. I thought it was magic.

I read that book as a kid in the 90s!
Paul Nathan
Hey I read that too when I was in school sometime in the mid-70s. I'm not sure it had anything to do with my interest in computers though.
Adam Pierce
Fortran on punch cards with reams of blue bar paper for output WAS magic!
I loved those books!
Craig Shearer
+5  A: 


Typed by 10-year-old Adam on an Apple II in 1981.

It did what I told it! I was immediately hooked for life.

Adam Pierce
+1 although, for me, the "20 GOTO 10" made all the difference :)
Bobby Jack
yes, without the statement at 20 it was not quite the same
+1  A: 

I guess that when I typed my first Basic game (using the GWBasic) and I played with it (as well as my sister) I began to wonder - how did text transform into something joyful?

+3  A: 

When the big stack of punch cards didn't return a page of Fortran errors (10 minutes later on a big sheet of green-line printer paper) after I submitted it to the card reader on my second try. That meant I didn't have to go back to the basement of the Math building and wait for a punch card machine again. Programming was very slow to iterate/debug in those days. Being "Agile" meant that you didn't drop your stack of cards!

I could only imagine...heck the compile, run, debug, cycle of the early 90's would make today's programmers cry.
Mike Brown
Punch cards weren't that bad, as long as your remembered to put sequence numbers on them. Mark sense cards that stopped reading half way through the project because the pencil marks were smearing was far worse.
Paul Tomblin

Here's what happened. Back in 13 I had my first ZX Spectrum clone computer. At this age I also started attending some auto-modelling club (we've been building car models with real engines and all that). Once I discovered that all I need to re-do my BASIC program is to press couple of buttons and to re-do the screwed auto-model I have to start over from the piece of metal, I figured that I'll better stick to software. :)

And, btw, all hail to Speccy! It wasn't beefy enough to engage me with any sort of gaming (they were looking silly), and the choice of software available to me was kind of limited, so I ended up tackling BASIC programs over and over again and just loved it.

+2  A: 

I think it was when I had so much fun writing programs for my TI-83 during Precalculus class in 11th grade.


When I was spending more time at my non-programming job learning how to program than I was actually doing anything related to my job.

+1  A: 

QBasic courses in 10th and 11th grade. Always finished assignments early and helped out my classmates, who thought I was kind of dumb because of how much I slacked off in other classes, ei. Literature and other liberal arts style BS. It was at that point I began to think I might have a knack for it.

I would I realized more and more it was a good career for me as time went on and I had a bunch of crappy "service" sector jobs.

If you can do something with your life you enjoy are decently good at, why not right?

Mark Lubin

As a kid I was always attracted to machines. My parents gave me an old mechanical typewriter and a screwdriver when I was 4 years old, I still remember how I wanted to take it apart and find out how it works.

I was very curious about computers when seeing them on television or hearing about them. I remember seeing the final throes of the space race when I was very little and thinking that it must be fun to sit in the NASA control center at Houston.

I dreamt about robots and computers when I was a young boy. I even built programmable (sort of) LEGO machines.

When I was 11 I first saw an example of BASIC code in a brouchure for a Sharp calculator/computer with a 1 line alphanumeric display. Nobody had to tell me how that code worked - probably a good example.

A year later or so, I got my VIC-20 and started programming. And I already knew that this was what I would spend my career doing.

I'm not able to find the defining moment, but it must have been quite early.

+1  A: 

When other people wanted to cheat off me in my computer science classes. Never happened in any of my other classes.

Todd Hoff

I was 13 and a friend of mine told me about a ZX Spectrum, so we went to a mall to check it out and they were showing a game. There were some Atari games already, and PacMan and Space Invaders. But when I saw that there were also games for computers (I think it was Manic Miner the first game I saw) I thought "Man, I want to play it but I want to know how to make a thing like that". Getting to know how anybody could program a videogame was more important to me that the possibility to play it. And I was conscious of it in that precise moment.


When I was in 3rd grade, my dad brought home an Apple IIe. I played around with a few games... and then I found Applesoft BASIC, and it just sort of dawned on me. "Wow! I could make my own videogames!"

I've been writing code ever since.

Mason Wheeler

I was 7 and my cousin was explaining what he was doing on his Amiga Sinclair computer in 1988.

After that I wrote my first program:

10 PRINT #
20 GOTO 10

When I was around 13 got my first PC a 486 DX2 66 Mhz with 2 MB of Ram and I've started to learn Q-Basic, by myself (I wasn't too successful with that, I barely managed to write few simple routines)

I started coding real programs at the age of 15 in Turbo Pascal 5.0, when I wrote my first complete app, a solar system simulator with planets and moons moving on elliptical trajectories around the sun. I used BGI to draw the planets using XOR-ed primitives like ellipses, circles and points.

Pop Catalin

I was 10, and my Mum had put me in to an after-school class on Logo (this was 1983). I noticed that the other kids in the class knew how to start logo up, and I heard someone say that it was to do with "starting logo from BASIC". So after class one day, I asked the teacher how to do that, but I asked "how do you do Logo from in BASIC?". He thought I wanted to learn to programme in BASIC.

So for the next few months, after each class, he'd give me a separate class on BASIC. He got me to write a space-invaders game, and after that I was hooked. I got my first computer (a Commodore 16) and spent pretty much every available hour programming awful games on it.

I almost thought you'd end your sentence with 'but his actual motive was to molest me in those extra classes' lol
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along time a ago, i was taking a class in linear algebra ( and a class in computer science using an IMB 1620 II (

our second program was to read in two matrices, multiply them ( together and print out the result using Fortran II ( on punched cards (

this was so much faster than doing it by hand that i was sure that this was a good thing.

Ray Tayek

I made an IRC bot within the mIRC scripting language. Sockets were the defining moment.

Joe Philllips
+1  A: 
+1  A: 

At the tender age of 10 my family decided to go online, and from then on I was hooked.

A couple of months and a few million web pages later I learned that it was extremely easy for anyone to get their own website. I jumped at the chance and registered myself a free web page with a web builder. After happily playing around with my website I decided the web builder wasn't very good and came across these magical codes to make your web page do stuff the builder wouldn't support. These codes were called HTML.

I eventually got very good with HTML, but wanted my pages to actually do things like every other page could, so I came across this scripting language named PHP that would make my website 'dynamic'. A year or two later I decided to create a forum and got involved with the vBulletin forum software, writing a couple of modifications for it in the process.

At the age of 16 I decided that real programming was for me, so I picked up Visual Basic and had a crack, then moving onto C. By that time I was hooked and I hadn't even realised it.

Back then I was writing things for the hell of it. Now I'm writing things because I can look back on those times and remember how much fun it is.

+1, i got started in pretty much the same way except after I learnt PHP, I started getting small jobs through web designer forums (i was a teenager) and eventually i began freelancing
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Same with me, although if I were to carry on any more I'd be half-way to publishing my memoirs.
That's pretty much how I got started, but it was HTML -> JavaScript -> VBScript/ASP.
Matthew Crumley
Ugh, don't even get me started on VBScript. I still have nightmares about classic ASP.
+1  A: 

I used to be a systems engineer in what's euphemistically termed the "defence" industry. I was responsible for a simulator based upon a KayPro II (Z80) machine, one of the first portable computers back in the early eighties. They had no-one free to write the UI software, so I got volunteered. Understand, the reason I'd avoided software before then was that development in those days was mostly non-interactive batch processing - it was unusual to get a terminal and a computer to yourself.

What did it for me was sitting in front of that little Z80 bitty box and getting a (for the time) instant response to anything I did, any code change I made, right there in front of me. The sense of empowerment was utterly magical to anyone brought up with programming turnaround times measured in tens of hours. The long days I spent alone in a commissioning site, tapping in code, master of everything I did and - more importantly - master of my own destiny, converted me. I was looking for a job in software from the moment that project ended.

Bob Moore

I was finishing up a Master's degree in Psychology on my way to a Ph.D. when something funny happened. My master's adviser got tenure and kind of disappeared for several months. Having little to do while I waited for him to finish reviewing the thesis, I to take an AI class ("hey," I thought, "it is like psych for a computer - how hard could it be?"). I was way over my head.

Well, that didn't sit well. So, I took the full schedule of CS courses to prepare myself to retake AI. When I got back to the AI course, I did very, very well and realized that this is what I really wanted to do.

Mark Brittingham

Ok, I am going to give a slightly different answer (although like many other answers here I was programming as an infant in the 80's as well).

I used to play a lot of golf. I mean 6 or 7 days a week. I had the intention of turning pro and making a motza on the PGA Tour with Tiger and friends. One of my mates I met around that time was a professional player and I started to play a lot with him. Even though he was a struggling pro barely making ends meet he could easily kick my butt and would take my money every time we played, so at that stage I realised I was nowhere near the level of playing golf for a living so I decided to turn my night job into a day job and become a full time developer instead.


It may have been a little earlier, but one of the key points was when I inherited a copy of Creating Adventure Games On Your Computer from my mother. This book still has a (nostalgic) place on my bookshelf.

Steve S
I wish I had a mother like yours man.
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:-) I love her!
Steve S
My mum would only get me boring school books to read. Grr!
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Spending an hour typing code into an ancient Commodore 64, trying to get a ball to bounce across the screen. That was in 1997. Purchased a new computer in 1998, now I hold a MSCS and professionally develop ;)

Matt Darby