How did you learn how to code?

My first exposure to computer code was LOGO on a trs-80 in 1982. It was pretty awesome. You could paint with a little “turtle” and draw out your name and stuff. After that I would spend time on my friend Commodore 64 making silly little text games in basic. I took one programming class in high school using Pascal, but by then my interests had wandered and I was more interested in paining, drawing, and a new application on our art room Apple called Photoshop :heart_eyes:

My love for computer graphics took me to school for 3D animation. After that I didn’t spend too much time with code anymore. I’d hack together small things. Small stuff. Web pages. That sort of thing.

After almost 10 years of that I tried to get into programming. I’d buy a book and make it to chapter 4 or so. Get frustrated. Quit. This cycle lasted a long time.

I tried to go back to school too, but it was very slow and I was in my early 30s and felt like “time was running out” :joy:

At the time I was working at a major airline as a graphic artist building 3D airplane parts and graphics for interactive diagrams. We were using Flash and the “programmers” I worked with would decompile swfs to build new features by trying to swipe code from them. One day I had an idea for using bitmasking or some similar programmatic solution that would save me weeks of world and he told me to “just make the graphics like I told you to”

The f???

So I decided to seriously learn how to code and spent the next 6 months as deep into Flash and Flex as I could go.

I remember reading Colin Moock’s AS3 when it dropped and almost hearing an audible POP in my brain when it finally clicked wtf a class is :bulb:

It was like the floodgates opened. I got it. The examples started making sense. I was able to build a few things.

I worked through all the books I could. This was right before Stack Overflow started in 2008, so things were more… challenging. The Flash community was really awesome though and I started focusing on testing, code quality, and good practices as my areas of study.

At that point I had quit my job at the airline and started work at a previous employer. He had severe problems with a software consultant and I said “I think I can do that?” And he let me build a Django/Flex app with 50% of time.

Moved on to a full time developer position. Evangelized am awesome AS3 framework called robotlegs, wrote a couple Flash/Flex books, met my buddy @john, fell into deep devpression when Steve killed Flash, and rose through the ashes of a consistent rendering environment to the delightful world of JavaScript we all share today.

What a ride!


Believe it or not, I learnt to program in binary with switches and LEDs!

After stopping off at one of the 1st computer shops in the UK (Byte Shop) to play lunar lander on a COmmador PET my 1st ever program was the classic

20 GOTO 10

Then looking through the electronic hobbiest mags I saw the MK14 a very early Sinclair self build computer and got hooked.

In the end I built another 6800 based computer with 256 BYTES! of memory and which was programmed via a panel of 8 LEDs, 8 Data switchs, 8 address switches, a load push button and a run toggle. Armed with a 6800 Assembly book I converted the Hex codes to binary and loaded them, finally hitting run to test, Debugging was slow checking the LEDs at each address. Programms were simply running lights and adding type games. Later I added a “monitor program board” with keyboard, TV modulator and an Assembler. A friend and myself then hacked a school systems’ Basic to work on this. That system was an old South West Tech 6800 unit with a teletype and punched tape reader.

[UPDATE] The homebrew computer was a Newbear 77-68 (see wikipedia Newbear_77-68 - I can’t add a 2nd link here) I’m so pleased to have found it again.

My first coding job was on Mobile Data Teminal (for the RAC drivers) written in Z80 Assembler, then we moved on to C on 68000 using a Real Time Operating System (premptive multitasking) and lots of state machines. All this was embedded dev using In circuit emulators on custom hardware. Then I learnt event driven cooperative multitasking (co processes) with WIndows 3 for Workgroups (and the classic Petzold book)

Since then I’ve worked on all sorts of stuff all over the stack and various domains including MIDI, Tax and MIS with a great SQL DB mentor. I even added some UK feature to Microsoft Money and the MSN stocks feature.

Now I pretty much concentrate on WEB tech (as it’s wonderful) and assitive technology / accessibility for user inclusivity and some great tech challenges.


I can totally relate to your experience @joel

Very very similar, I skipped the Logo course and went straight to Basic on an institute in 1984.
We used to program with Texas Instruments home computers.
I got my first (second hand) computer in 1986. A CZ 1500 plus with glorious (drumroll) 4KB of RAM (no hard disk or whatsoever). We used audio cassettes to persist our programs (and in my case saves and loads took about 15 minutes and failed half of the times because the audio hardware I used).

It took me 2 years to know enough to develop a collision system using 2D arrays for my “videogames”.

At some point PCs came into the scene and in the institute I studied they told me that all the Basic I had learned was useless. I think their advice was totally wrong, but they were promoting DOS courses, they didn’t have instructors that could teach us about Quick Basic or so.
I was so bitter and angry that I thought computers were not for me and quit until I was 20-ish.
(Being a teacher requires a lot of care and empathy, since you’re enabling learners to expand their reality, and if you’re not careful you could shut doors to them).

A friend of mine gave me a printed version of an HTML course. then I recovered my first love.
It took me 2 more years to get into PHP (spaghetti code style). Then I also got into Flash and AS.

It wasn’t until Rails saw the light that I didn’t get into OOP, Design Patterns, and good practices in general. Rails made me learn things like SVN and git later on.


Back in the summer of '97 or '98, I had broken my arm so I was inside playing video games instead of swimming. I went online to look for cheat codes for the game and saw an Angelfire ad for free web space. I had no idea what that meant, but signed up anyay and within 20 minutes started reading up on HTML. That’s all it took for programming to sink its hooks into me.

I made a bunch of sites during that period (even made some money off them through ads) and copy-and-pasted as much as I could from Everything was hardcoded; no PHP or Perl or anything to make my life easier. When someone showed me how Server Side Includes could let me add dynamically generated content, my mind was blown.

I spent a lot of time looking at the different programming books in the local Barnes and Noble. I couldn’t tell one from the other, but one day I bought some huge PHP & MySQL book. Seeing how to use a database to populate a site, and how to iterate over arrays and generate HTML from it was the next mind-blowing moment for me.

Some time after that I picked up Flash and ActionScript 1, and would make random animations. At this point, I thought my career would be graphic designer; the thought of programming professionally never crossed my mind. That changed once I landed my first freelance project. After that, it was a continuation of learning new languages & frameworks, building things, learning, building, etc.

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Holy cats! I learned LOGO on a TRS-80 in 1981-82 too. We mostly played Oregon Trail though.

High school computing was 100% word processing and typopgraphic layout on Macs - I was co-editor of the school poetry publication when I wasn’t skipping class to practice for auditions.

I officially learned VI well before I learned to code. I worked in a typographic comp house for a couple of year. People told me what commands did what. I learned that all the commands came from VI when I started my next job as an SGML stylesheet consultant in 1995. That’s when my real programming education began…

Stylesheets before CSS. Perl with a tacked in document object model. Modular stylesheets with variables, conditionals, recursion, and function calls. Good times. I wound up taking my first formal “Intro to Programming with C++” in 1999.

These days I write the docs. And learn stuff so I can continue to write the docs. A bit of everything. Mostly web stuff. Vanilla Javascript makes sense to me but I gotta keep up with the new stuff to keep my technical mojo fresh. It took years for this violist to own her technical skills. Programming is very much like the ability to play an instrument: use it or lose it!


Well I got my start into the world of Web Developement last year. I remember joining this programming group that claimed they were about helping people become developers and help us get a job, but I realized that it was a complete joke and waste of time.

So, I remember going to McKays Used Bookstore back in Chattanooga, TN and picking up a book on HTML5 & CSS3 by Jon Duckett for $5. I was so in love with that book and the amazing layout of it, even though the layout at times confused me on where I was supposed to start and stop. lol

After that I decided to invest in his JavaScript & jQuery book. That was the beginning of my love-hate relationship with JavaScript. I remember countless days wanting to pull out my hair and give JavaScript the finger, but little by little I started getting it. I wrote a lot of my code in vanilla and I never really adapted the jQuery lifestyle for some reason. I wasn’t really a fan of the “write less, do more” magic of it. I wanted to know how all the little pieces fitted together and so I made it my mission to be able to replicate what anyone else could do in jQuery in pure vanilla JavaScript.

So the majority of my learning experience thus far has been a lot of tears, trials and errors. And now I’m more open to learning libraries and frameworks which was something I thought I would never learn how to do. I officially love me some React and Gatsby honey. So although I haven’t been on this journey long I think I’m a decent developer. A little slower than most because of my minor learning disability, but it hasn’t stopped me from pushing forward and giving it everything that I’ve got.


My first program ever was typed character by character from a BASIC book into a Commodore 64 which my parents bought when I was ~6 years old. I wasn’t exactly hooked from the start - I remember spending AGES to type a program with my dad helping me and the result was a screen blinking with different colors (if it worked) or a cryptic error message (if it didn’t). The fact that both of my parents don’t speak English didn’t make it easier.

In middle school I’ve had Computer Science class and lo and behold, we’ve learned to program with Logo Komeniusz. And I agree with @joel - moving the turtle around, making him draw different shapes and creating procedures (basically functions to draw squares or something) was freaking awesome.

(I’m like 90% sure that the image above is from the book we’ve used to learn Logo)

In high school we’ve had PASCAL classes and even though I did enjoy them, I’ve never thought that I’d do programming for a living. When I was ~15-ish someone who I really respected at the time told me that basically the need for developers will be over soon and I kinda believed them.

That’s why instead of Computer Science, I decided to major in Electronics and Telecommunications Engineering. I hoped to work more with a hardware side of engineering, especially since I was struggling a bit during the first few C++ classes. My favourite language we’ve learned at the university was C# because of the GUI development, in C++ we didn’t leave the terminal at all.

Before I got my engineering degree I’ve decided to find myself an internship.

After the second year I was an “Assistant to Fiber Optics Network Designer” and all I’ve learned during that time is that I don’t want to do that for a living :sweat_smile:

So, after the third year I wanted to find something that I knew I’d enjoy.

I wasn’t able to find anything, therefore I’ve interviewed for a C++ intern at Tieto. Even though I 100% bombed the interview, I got the job anyhow and I’ve spent 3 months working on a tool from scratch. The codebase was terrible, I remember writing 300+ lines of code in a single function, I had no idea that tests existed and I’m absolutely sure that the code was obliterated from the face of the Earth as soon as I left.

So, how the hell did I end up doing JavaScript for a living? Samsung R&D in Poznań (my hometown) had an internship program. The plan was to start a next C++ internship at Samsung right after the one at Tieto ended.

The problem was that … I missed the submission deadline by a day.

Instead, I’ve interviewed for a SmartTV Developer internship, I got the job (I’m still incredibly grateful for the opportunity as it kickstarted my career) and the best part was - the ENTIRE FIRST MONTH of the internship was a “From Zero To Hero” HTML/CSS/JavaScript/jQuery course from scratch.

The rest … is history. Dang, what a ride!

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