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Were you born to be a developer?

Christian Vasquez on January 08, 2018

This question has been floating around in my head for a while. I know I wasn't, I'm the kind of guy that likes to try everything, I'm just genuinel...
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Dian Fay

I learned BASIC at age 8 with help from my father, copying code listings out of the back of his Sky and Telescope magazines and so forth. I discovered recursion by trying to port fractal generators from C books, wrote the kind of primitive games you'd expect a kid to write, tried and repeatedly failed to wrap my head around OpenGL (I think I got as far as rendering and moving the classic teapot). Minus the BASIC and anything having to do with graphics programming, I've kept it up ever since, dropping out of a CS degree program to work fulltime as a developer and now an architect.

I'm good at what I do, and that extra decade of reading, writing, and understanding code and computers has certainly helped. But I don't really think of it as being "ahead" of my colleagues. Even early on in my career, I might have been more acclimated to simply doing work on a computer and even more used to syntax conventions, but that didn't mean I understood source control or knew SQL. It's more like I had relevant but not always directly applicable experience. And of course, once you reach a certain point it no longer matters so much just how long you've been at it.

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Frank Carr

I am the same age as COBOL so childhood coding, as we know it today, wasn't really an option for me. I was greatly inspired by the 60's space program and learned a lot of math on my own, especially trigonometry as I got into model rocketry. My parents bought me a nice slide rule. From it, I learned not only math concepts but also the programming concepts of creating an execution plan, cursors and temporary storage. Around the same time, I also learned to type, another valuable skill now.

I think these 2 things helped me a lot when I wrote my first programs in the late 70's in a college math class. They certainly put me ahead of most people in my age group.

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Kostas Bariotis

I first saw a computer when I was 10, I wrote my first Visual Basic application almost a year later after I bought my first programming book "Visual Basic for Dummies". Programming became a hobby for me when I was a kid and once I understand that I could do that for a living, that was my epiphany. I devoted my life to being a highly paid professional by doing my hobby.

I was super bored in college mostly because I knew lots of the stuff. Not everything of course but I was quite ignorant believing that I did.

I don't think that I was bord a developer neither that I am ahead of my colleagues. I do though have the advantage mainly because I don't feel like working and I enjoy spending time outside my 9-5 to learn new things and advance my self.

Does that answer your question though? :)

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Christian Vasquez


Thanks for sharing your story :D

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Dante Pasionek

To be frank, I started programming making plugins for Minecraft, that was back when I was in the 9th grade. I'm a Junior in college now, and I a lot of my peers also started the same way! Although I've digress from Java in favor of languages like C++ and Python, I'll always have that Java experience from all those plugins!

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Lorenzo Pasqualis

No. I was born to "build stuff that requires creative ideation and hard work."
Software development was a perfect fit, but if I was born before computers, I'd have been something like a writer, architect or artist of some kind.

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Kenji Rikitake

I started writing code in FORTRAN at age 9, at the same time I started learning and living in English, my second language. I didn't have a computer until age 14, so I need to write a lot of code on paper, though I could use a shared Apple ][ at a local department store at age 13, in 1978. So my first real experience of running and crashing code was at age 13, with Apple ][ 6K BASIC and the 6502 Assembler. My first C language experience was at age 20. My first real production level C++ and C# language experiences have begun at age 52 :), so I still need to learn a lot of things anyway.

Starting learning things at an early age has a distinct advantage. It will reduce unnecessary fear. Childhood experience is much easier to repeat at the later period of life. I still don't want to say, however, that I was born to be a dev. Writing code is essential part of my life, but that's not the only way to live it :)

Having learned old way of coding or problem solving can be an advantage sometimes, especially if you need to fix old equipment or a legacy piece of code. I don't think I'm ahead of my colleagues though because they know modern tools far better than I do. I know I need to learn a lot of GUI tools and Web design, and I'm in the process now.

It's nice to be able to earn some money by doing something I'm good at and like since my childhood, but that doesn't necessarily mean I don't have to learn new things; in fact, I always have to learn new things. It's hard, but fun. :)

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Douglas McKechie • Edited

I don't know if I was "born" to be a developer, but I did start coding from a youngish age - 14 in the mid 90s - mostly copying QBasic code listings out of books from the local library and then altering then to see what happened.

I then got a copy of VB4 later in the 90s and self taught some windows app development, in this case mostly trying to create copies of windows games I liked, such as Chip's Challenge.

I also always enjoyed playing with the level editor / modding tools in games and creating my own maps or scenarios.

At Uni I think this did give me an advantage, I had been exposed to coding before, it was not a completely new and strange thing as it was for some students on the courses I took, so I always got good marks in those papers.

Do I feel like I am ahead of my colleagues because of it? No. I just had a chat with a few devs in the team here and some did start programming when young, others learned it when they did their course at Uni etc, but I think all of us are quite skilled in what we do.

So just because I fiddled around making some games when I was a kid does not make me way better web developer today than my colleagues. That said I suppose these days exposure to coding at a young age cannot hurt and may be helpful if kids want to go on to be developers in the IT industry.

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I started coding when I was almost 17, I never though that I was born for that, I just wanted to study something related with computers and I realised that I sucked. At the beginning it was hard for me learning to code, 10 years later I think that I figured out how it works ;) and I'm still learning

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Ben Halpern

We're all still learning 🙂

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Arden de Raaij • Edited

I thought I'd be a natural programmer for a while because a lot of family members were awesome with computers. My father was a network engineer, my mom a technical translator and my grandfather worked for IBM in the time they required a team from the USA to install a 10mb hard drive that would 'last them for decades to come'. Go figure.

With all the computers around, I enjoyed gaming, overclocking and tinkering around with hard- and software. I studied IT management and worked at help-desks and it wasn't until I started studying IT engineering that I got my wake-up call.

The whole studies already started out ominous as I didn't have the right qualifications and had to do an algebra summer course. I passed this course somehow, but it was a strong reminder on how bad I am at math.

When the study began and the actual programming started, things became even worse. I remember programming Java all day long and literally being the slowest of the class. While I was still trial and erroring my way around the first assignment (rendering a simple drawing of a house) my neighbor took it upon himself to make a calculator which was 'better than the default Windows one because it could calculate more numbers behind the comma' or some shit like that.

That was the moment I began understanding the difference between people who are natural programmers and... me. If I would continue the IT-engineering study, I would be making it really hard on myself. Things that seem to come natural to my classmates were a real struggle for me. It was pretty sobering because I was used to being good at everything without even trying too hard.

After three months I called it quits, and I'm glad I did so. After all, I've found my way to programming in another way!

Thank you for the interesting question!

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Christian Vasquez

Thank you for adding your story too :D

I wasn't expecting so many awesome replies to be honest, hahaha.

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Miguel Piedrafita • Edited

Well, I'm 16 now, so I guess I can say I've been coding since I was little (because I'm little now :) However, I can't answer the second question, as I've never worked with another programmer.

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Reg Reyes

Nope, definitely not. I wanted to be a doctor ever since I was a kid, but when I went to Highschool, I found out it took forever to become one...and a lot of money. My parents were getting old (they still are), so I just chose anything. I was into MMORPGs at the time, so I opted for Computer Science (LOL)!

Good for me that I ended up liking my profession anyway. :)

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Luís Costa

I have not been coding since I was little. In fact, I only discovered coding right until before I decided to take a CS degree in college. I started coding by then (I was like 18, Im 24 now). I feel like we just need to define our own path. Learn as we go, and stop comparing ourselves to others. As long as you're doing the best you can, optimizing your own productivity and learning, you're doing ok. Don't feel pressured by trying to catch up with others or to try and be "ahead" of others. It's fruitless effort. Focus on yourself. Develop good habits and do the best work you can do. If you do that, you can't say that you were necessarily "born" to be a developer, but you were born to be a good worker, and that's good.

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aurel kurtula • Edited

My favorite toy as a kid (around the age of 9/10) was a rock!

Rocks are everywhere. Believe me, they are everywhere, I have held them, weighed them in my hand, swung them. They are everywhere.

However, the rock that I'm talking about was slightly bigger than my hand, smooth as marble, and shined in the sun.

When I found it, and after using it, I took it home and begged my mother to let me keep it indoors. Why couldn't I just chuck it somewhere outside? Because others would take it!

I'm not crazy!

All my past time (all the time I wasn't in school) I spend outside, and one of our favorite games was: a two-player game. Each has a rock. The first player throws his, the second player has to aim and touch the first players rock.

Now that you know the game, you realise I wasn't crazy. Finding the perfect rock that fits perfectly in your hand and it's just heavy enough to accommodate your swing was very hard. (Didn't The Dude have a bowling ball he kept home as well?)

I won few games with it, till someone banged his rock on mine so hard that my rock broke in half (even its insides were shiny :) )

So, hell no, I wasn't born to be a developer.

And you know what? Whenever I hear or read about amazing programmers that were born with a motherboard in their lap, I think of my childhood and, honestly I don't envy them at all. I also read comments like "it's not fair, others started early", or "I'm 12 is it too late". I think, I love programming, but I love my past!

I think at some point everyone should become a programmer! Virginia Woolf of all people, helped me realised I'm lucky to be a programmer. She wrote a diary entry about a lonely old woman that can't read or write, as a result when ever V met her, the old woman has the same things to say. V says if the old woman could read and write she'd have a richer life.
I know a lot of people that come home from work and just watch TV, or worst, they fall asleep with the TV on, I believe that would have been me if I wasn't a developer. Being a developer, banging my head against the wall and talking to the keyboard like a madman when code doesn't do what I need it to, has made me more curious, and more willing to be mentally active - even when I'm not coding, and even physically active.

Back home, when people retired everyone was kind of sad, "what will he do now!" When I came to UK, one of the support workers at school, computer savvy, retired. He had a radiant smile in his face as he spoke of his little shed with few computers and the plans he had.

Anyway, I wasn't born to be a developer, but I'm glad I'm one. And, I'd love to try my hands at other things at some point too.

(You should read @lpasqualis article 10 Top Reasons To Have a Career in Tech, especially points 5 through 10 relate to what I'm trying to say)

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Arden de Raaij

Haha this was amazing to read, thanks for sharing! I'm definitely not 'born to be a programmer' either, but glad I ended up at this point. I always feel privileged earning money with what I do, and I love being able to build something out of nothing.

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Christian Vasquez

What an amazing story! Shut up and take my follow.

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Isaac Lyman

This is the funniest thing I've read all day. Great job.

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Alex Miasoiedov

I was not born as a developer and hope I will die not as a developer in one of black mirror scenario :)

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Maxim Korotkov

First started thinking of programming in the first year of my university. My speciality is Information Security, but i didn't like the program so bad (there was no coding whatsoever), that i decided to start learning programming myself. Python as a friends recommendation, then freecodecamp, then i decided that i am into web development. Sieged Udemy and started eating frontend courses one after another. Currently learning React, still have no job, but whatever - i will struggle through.

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jD91mZM2 • Edited

I am a 15 year old still. All my life I've had the issue of not being interested in anything this world has to offer. I wouldn't read books if I didn't know if they were good (aka I rarely tried new books). I spent my time trying to waste as much as possible. I knew drawing wasted maybe 20 minutes (I wasn't good at it), so sometimes I just drew stuff.

But programming really is my one true interest. Discovered it at 11, and just never stopped.

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Angel Daniel Munoz Gonzalez • Edited

I always wanted to be a chemist, but life (and mostly myself) played it differently somehow I ended up studying Information Technologies, while I was not on the track to do some programming stuff, I Feel like this was/is what I was meant to do, and I wouldn't be happier doing something else :)

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Sumant H Natkar

I got introduced to computers in school, and after watching star trek, always wanted to be the guy who operated computers.

Got introduced to programming during my graduation days, and after that always wanted to write code.

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Joni Kettunen

Definitely no. I tried to write some programs with C64 at 80's but after few experiments it felt too much work with too little results.

One decade later I started to learn computer science at University just because there was work available at the field. Now I do like and love programming.

neo profile image

I think starting early can definitely give you an edge but I dont think that is all you will need in the long run. It can just give you a headstart naturally. I started when I was 15 and compared to some, it is still like >= two years late.

drakso profile image

I don't think people are born for a certain type of profession. Usually the terms "born to be" and "some profession" goes in the same sentence, but people are actually differing in their overall mindset and the way they tackle problems and challenges. It is also fair to note that things which are interesting and are fun to do, are the things that we tend to get good at from an early age. I started programming from a very early age and it was really exciting for me to code. But I was also easily impressed with a lot of things, just like you so over the years I tried a lot of things that were fun, interesting and most important of all: Suited my mindset and way of thinking. In the last 5 years tho I decided to shift all my focus on development and programming and it is safe to say that I am doing very well. So your "Jack of all trades" way of doing things is not actually saying that you are "not born" for something. You just have a lot of priorities and did not spent enough of your attention on a certain thing ( like programming ).

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Javier Sanchez

Much older brother is dev and back when I was 12 he bought me a VBasic book and I though making a dialogue box popup with a couple buttons was amazing. since then I loved coding. I thought my HS CS classes were very easy and I feel I didn't struggle with my college classes as much as my peers but I definitely don't think it gave me any advantage in the industry at all. In fact I think I'd rather go back and wish I never knew about coding until college.

Definitely NOT born to be a dev but I am always amazed and have a passion for the most simple things these machines do.

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Dariusz Scharsig • Edited

Hey there,

I've started coding with 11. Got a Commodore C64 from my uncle. It came with two manuals for learning BASIC, one in English and one in German, both languages I didn't speek at the time. However I figured out I could just type in the examples and see what they did. Not long after I was quite proficient with it. I always joke and say I invented the for loop (which of course I didn't). But in BASIC I only had goto and had to manage to create loops with that.

With 16 I've started with C++, the first time I saw a for-loop explained my reaction was: "AWESOME! They have a (key)word for it in C++" :).

Anyhow. Now, C++ feels like my own skin. I don't need pattern-books to figure out what to do and how (I still read them though).

I am ahead of my colleagues right now but that's mainly due to the fact that all of them were old C developers who were dragged into C++ and struggle with it. There are still a lot of people who haven't coded half as much as I did in jobs that pay four times as much :)

As many others like me, coding is something I love. I can work 8 hours straight, go home, and code more, on my own projects. That does give me a small advantage in one thing. I do indeed try to be ahead, but the person I measure myself with is myself a day before. That's it. I try to learn something each day.

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I don't think I was born to be a developer and to be honest I kind of hated it until last year. I didn't get the logic behind all that though I had programming classes in college during my graphic design degree. I was more of an "artist" kid and I thought "heck programming ain't art". I was so wrong but you gotta learn from your mistakes right?

Fast forward to when I dropped out of college (because graphic design was nice but I wasn't into it enough to study it, it was just a hobby), I was looking for opportunities and here in Belgium we have more and more training in programming. I started working as a workshop animator, my subjects of teaching were robotics, gender equality in computer sciences and programming. I fell in love with robotics and got into it. I realized I didn't have the time (now) to do a master in mechatronics and I found a 6 months workshop in mobile development (Android Studio, Xamarin, classes of Java and C# etc...)

Two months into the workshop and I still didn't know why I was there. I was the worst student of my class, not the best feeling if you ask me.
But then we started Android Studio and it was like a realization, a "click" in my mind.
I loved it, I loved the fact that I could try it immediately on my phone or on many devices through the virtual devices. Though with the web and so on you can also see a result, here I was mindblown by how dynamic, fun and creative it was. Though I am learning other things through my workshop (Xamarin and so on), I'm still working on my Android app. Best of all, I got an internship in the company I absolutely wanted to work for ! And I came to the interview with the shittiest code I've ever written but it was mine, and I did it will all my determination and need to improve.

So no, I definitely wasn't born a developer but I found my thing in the big pool of all the cool stuff you can do with development and I'm sticking to it. Starting is not easy, especially when you don't know what technology or thing you want to do but once you get it I think you can do wonders! :D

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K (he/him)

It was a bit mixed with me.

I feel like I started a bit earlier than most devs I know, but I have the feeling that I'm not as smart as most devs.

I hope I make up missing intelligence by being more passionate than the average dev and having a bit of a head start, lol.

I bought my first computer, a C64, with 8. I played around a bit with BASIC, but didn't build anything much more advanced than a "hello world" with it.

Later I got a PC, when I was 11 or something, and did basically nothing coding related till I was like 14. Then I started doing some scripting and mapping (which also included scripting) for games like Duke Nuken 3D and Halflife. I also did some simple games with Flash, but nothing too big. I was more into the whole administration stuff back then. Build PCs, setup OS, tweaked the OS for games, setup some FTP servers and stuff for filesharing.

Wrote some IRC bots in mIRC-Script when I was 16 and did some websites in HTML/CSS in that year.

Later I tried some web stuff in PHP, guess when I was like ... I don't know 19 or so.

Got my first internship as web developer when I was 21.

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Dheeraj.P.B • Edited

I wrote my first program on 4th grade(10 years of age) in QBASIC while I was at school and I enjoyed playing it as a kid. The idea that I can write a program to make a computer find the HCF which the teacher had taught last week, when many people I look up to, including my parents, had no clue on how to operate this expensive thing which is called a 'Computer', was very exciting for this reason alone 🙂. And simply because I enjoyed it, the idea of making a computer do intelligent things, by typing sentenes partly english and math, stayed in my head from that time onwards and I had always tried to do it again whenever I could get my hands on a computer.
Today I work as a software engineer and I have often felt that because I played around with a programming language as a kid, I have had an advantage over many of my colleagues while learning a new technology or a language. I feel that thinking of a solution on abstract terms and implementing it in a language can never be a problem if we were familiar with code from childhood.

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Jochem Stoel

Nobody is born to be anything.