Leaders and trend-setters all agree on one thing: More people should learn to code!
We asked 25 world leading web development experts about when they started coding - and why? Their stories might inspire more people to start coding. Here are the answers we got! (Add your story below)
1. Derek Sivers
“In 1994 I started making HTML websites. Just HTML. Not really programming.
In 1997 I made cdbaby.com - but it was still just HTML.
In 1998 I learned some PHP because cdbaby.com was growing and needed to be automated.
And then I just kept learning. Still learning every week. Right now learning Elixir and Elm.”
"In 1997 I made cdbaby.com - but it was still just HTML..."
- Derek Sivers (tweet this)
2. Douglas Crockford
“I was a broadcasting major, but in my first year I wasn't able to get into the studio classes. So instead I took a math class about FORTRAN programming.
At that time, computers were still multimillion dollar machines, so introduction to programming was through a university course.”
"At that time, computers were still multimillion dollar machines...."
- Douglas Crockford (tweet this)
3. Cory House
“I have always loved cars, so my first experiment with coding was building a website about my car using Macromedia Flash. After successfully creating the site, I wanted to create an application that would allow other automotive enthusiasts to easily create their own websites, so I started studying programming to help me deliver the vision.”
"I have always loved cars, so my first experiment with coding was building a website about my car..."
- Cory House (tweet this)
4. Corinna Cohn
“I had the great fortune of attending an elementary school equipped with Apple ][ computers. My first language was Applesoft BASIC and the first assignment I remember was to make a colorful picture on graph paper and to then carefully plot all the squares into a low resolution image using BASIC drawing commands.
I started coding professionally when I was on a technical support team. The product I supported was being cancelled and the only hope I had to keep my job was to learn Java. I spent a month cramming on Laura Lemay’s “Teach Yourself Java in 21 Days” and not only kept my job, but also established my career path.”
"My first language was Applesoft BASIC and the first assignment I remember was ..."
- Corrinna Cohn (tweet this)
5. Christian Johansen
“I started coding in high school. A buddy learned to create websites with HTML. I thought it was cool and wanted to create websites with functionality - so I learned PHP.”
"I thought HTML was cool, but I wanted more functionality, so I learned..."
- Christian Johansen (tweet this)
6. Andrew Chalkley
“I started coding when I was about 14 or 15. I saw a group of friends hacking away on the MSDOS programming language QBasic. I suddenly realized that computers aren't just for word-processing, desktop publishing and spreadsheets, which was being taught at my school at the time, but can be used for more dynamic applications. Instead of just playing games, I could make them!”
"Instead of just playing games, I could make them.."
- Andrew Chalkley (tweet this)
7. Andrei Soroker
“As an undergrad, I was studying Aeronautical Science at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University -- it was a combination of flying and aviation-related academic courses.
Sophomore year, I decided to take a beginner C programming class as an elective (not sure why exactly). At the same time I was enrolled in Basic Aerodynamics, which included a wind tunnel lab. We had to record a ton of measurements off of pressure probes on an airfoil segment, at different angles of attack.
The goal of the lab was to calculate a bunch of numbers -- coefficient of lift, Reynolds number, and so on, per angle of attack.
I decided to write a C program to do this, and, after a few weeks of work, the program appeared to function. The numbers were within range, I got an A. I submitted the code of my program as proof of computation.
This experience changed the course of my career. I switched my major to CS and got a programming internship with a local company that manufactured a Linux-based monitoring gateway for old HVAC systems, enabling these dinosaurs to be accessible online. That's where I began learning to code -- a process that continues to this day!”
"This experience changed the course of my career..."
- Andrei Soroker (tweet this)
8. Alicia Sedlock
“My initial exposure to programming was around 2003 or 2004, through making custom layouts for LiveJournal and MySpace (totally thought I would make money on this some day). This inspired me to take Intro To Web Development as a high school elective in 2005, where I started making Flash(!) websites for my friends' bands”
"My initial exposure to programming was around 2003 or 2004, through making custom layouts for."
- Alicia Sedlock (tweet this)
9. Bradley Holt
“I had the privilege of being able to first learn to code at the age of eleven or twelve. Our family had gotten a hand-me-down Apple IIc on which I learned to program BASIC from computer programming magazines (yes, that was a thing) and by reverse engineering programs that had come with the computer. Programming was fun for me as I enjoyed figuring out how things worked and being able to instruct the computer on what to do and then watch it carry out my instructions.”
"Our family had gotten a hand-me-down Apple IIc on which I learned to program BASIC"
- Bradley Holt (tweet this)
10. Brian Belhumeur
“I started coding around 14 after I realized the awesome power of computers and wanted to harness it to help solve problems. I bought a book on C programming and using a shareware compiler starting making DOS games and tools. Even though they were simplistic at the time, I could see the potential. In high school, I wrote Visual Basic programs to do my math homework for me because that was WAY more fun (and educational) than doing the homework! To this day, the ability to build a tool that will help others is what keeps programming fun and interesting for me.”
"I started coding around 14 after I ..."
- Brian Belhumeur (tweet this)
11. Kimberly Blessing
“I started coding when I started school, at age 5. My school had a computer lab full of TRS-80 Color Computers, which all of the students were introduced to. For whatever reason, something clicked, and I was hooked!
Later, in high school, I took a break from computers and programming, but when I returned to college and took a computer science course, everything fell right back in to place. Nowadays, I tell people that, for me, there’s something natural about expressing myself in code.”
"I started coding when I started school, at age 5..."
- Kimberly Blessing (tweet this)
12. Raymond Camden
“I started coding because I wanted to cheat in a computer game I was playing. That was the initial impetus. After figuring that out, I just wanted to learn about it more in general, but basically, it was games. (Oh, and Tron. I kid you not - Tron was a *huge* motivator for my coding passion.)”
"I started coding because I wanted to cheat..."
- Raymond Camden (tweet this)
13. Kent C. Dodds
"I really started coding in September 2011 because I wanted to automate some monkey work..."
- Kent C. Dodds (tweet this)
14. Jack Franklin
“I got started coding because I was asked to make a website for my football team, but the reason I stayed coding is because I've always liked solving puzzles and I see coding as just that. Whether it's an HTML / CSS layout problem or a complex code problem, I enjoy tackling difficult problems and coming up with elegant solutions which is why once I started learning to code I don't think I ever looked back!”
"I got started coding because I was asked to make a website for my football team..."
- Jack Franklin (tweet this)
15. Tracy Osborn
“I started coding in 2010 because I wanted to start my own startup. After failing to find a cofounder, I realized I needed to just build and launch a product myself.”
"I started coding in 2010 because I wanted to start my own startup..."
- Tracy Osborn (tweet this)
16. Volkan Özçelik
When we asked Volkan about this, we got an answer so long that his effort deserved a post of it's own - read Volkan´s complete story here!
"I started coding at the age of 12 which makes 1991; it was a Commodore 64 that my uncle had given me as a present."
- Volkan Özçelik (tweet this)
17. Justin Searls
“I was on a vacation with my family and the airline lost our luggage, so I was stuck in a beach condo in hot weather with only heavy winter clothes, my school backpack. I entertained myself for three days upon discovering my Casio calculator's BASIC editor, immediately addicted to the feedback loop of building a little game, handing it to my dad, and iterating on it. I didn't realize that counted as programming, but from then on I was hooked..”
"I was on a vacation with my family and the airline lost our luggage..."
- Justin Searls (tweet this)
18. Kyle Simpson
“At age 11, my friend and I were playing at his house when we saw his dad (a programmer by profession) working in the den and we got curious about what he was up to. He typed for a minute and popped up a blue screen with a gray box (DOS, ascii text days) with my name in the middle of it, fascinating me and hooking me on programming from then on.”
"At age 11, my friend and I were playing at his house when we saw..."
- Kyle Simpson (tweet this)
19. Jonathan Stark
“I started coding around 1981-82 on an IBM PC (this one). I would have been around 13 at the time. I was utterly fascinated by using DOS and BASIC to make the computer do things - mostly stupid stuff like making little ascii animations and that sort of thing. I have no idea why I liked coding but it seemed like a natural outgrowth of my other interests (namely, scifi, video games, and D&D).”
"I started coding around 1981-82 on an IBM PC ..."
- Jonathan Stark (tweet this)
20. Léonie Watson
"I used to play around with code examples taken from Apple magazine on my dad's Apple 2e back when I was a kid. I didn't start coding seriously until the early days of the web though, when I got bored on the tech support graveyard shift at one of the UK's first ISPs and started building websites to keep myself out of mischief!”
"I used to play around with code examples taken from Apple magazine on my dad's Apple 2e..."
- Léoni Watson (tweet this)
21. Josh Simmons
“Eight year old Josh had wild ideas about how computers worked when my family got our first computer, but the reality was even more magical than I had imagined. I spent the next seven years moving from script kiddy to baby coder and the rest is history.
First it was macros and QBasic. My brother recognized my interest and picked up a copy of Visual Basic 6 for me -- being able to quickly build interfaces blew my mind, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover web development.
I was thirteen when a brave MUD made me an implementor and gave me access to my first *nix box and C code base. That's when I fell in love with open source and shifted over to PHP from ASP.
These days I do less coding and more community work, but the die has been cast. I'm an open source citizen and coder for life!”
"I spent the next seven years moving from script kiddy to baby coder and the rest is history."
- Josh Simmons (tweet this)
22. Shane Russell
"I was bored one day and started building..."
- Shane Russell (tweet this)
23. Henrik Joreteg
“I got into coding because when I was in college, I knew I wanted to start a business and every interesting business I could think of to start was related to the web.
I tried to hire somebody to help me build what I wanted, but as a college student, I couldn't afford much. I decided to try to teach myself and ended up here: http://www.lynda.com/ColdFusion-8-tutorials/essential-training/433-2.html
I had no idea where to start, but that got me going and I was hooked!.”
"I tried to hire somebody to help me build what I wanted, but ..."
- Henrik Joreteg (tweet this)
24. Steve Kinney
“I started writing code relatively late in the grand scheme of things. I was 27 when I first tried to teach myself in earnest—and it was a long, hard road of some pretty bad code. Prior to that I had always wanted to code, but it was a tough nut to crack. I probably would have gone to a developer training program if they were around back then. I always wanted to learn how to program because I felt like it's a skill that allows you to kind of build whatever ideas you may have cooked up all by yourself.
I was working as a NYC teacher and there was this pretty terrible application that would spit out a wide variety of CSVs of student data: their state test scores, their predictive test score, their marking period scores, etc. But each CSV was its own little island. So, it was up to us to pretty much cut and paste columns from each CSV and align them with the unique student ID and then do brew up the Excel formulas to do figure out whatever it was that we wanted to know.
I didn't know how to program, but I'd been in vicinity of computers long enough to have a suspicion that this was something a relational database was better at doing than a bunch of over-worked teachers at the end of a long day. So, I volunteered to build an application that would take in all of the CSVs, parse them, and then pop them into a database. It was some gnarly code because I was brand new, but I was able to keep refining it and working on it and whatnot.”
"I started writing code relatively late in the grand scheme of things..."
- Steve Kinney (tweet this)
25. Stoyan Stefanov
"It wasn't until I discovered the Internet during the last months of college that I started..."
- Stoyan Stefanov (tweet this)
We hope the answers above will inspire you to share your coding story. We asked the same question on Quora. Over 100 people have commented. Add your story on Quora or in the comment field below.