Exploring what inspired folks to start coding

Users have been sharing the spark that started them on their journey as computer programmers. From IRC to Minecraft, users found a passion that became a career.

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Credit: Alexandra Francis

Our new Discussions feature has expanded the kinds of conversations that can happen on Stack Overflow. Instead of strictly limiting user engagement to Q&A, we now have a space where users can chat with one another about software development in a more open ended way.

User Muusy kicked thing off by asking: "What inspired you to start programming?"

For many in our community, their first taste of programming came when they needed to change something they used:

hassan wrote - I was having a vBulletin, I wanted to add some cool features for the forum users, I'd looked for it on the internet and I did not found anything related to it. Then I asked some developer to make it for me and he replied that he does not have time for this. So I decided to write some vBulletin scripts. After that I said to my self, so why I do not write a full forum script instead of using vBulletin. and this was the start.

Others followed their curiosity to reverse engineer their chat scripts:

apokryfos wrote - When I was about 16 I used to use an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) client called mIRC which allowed you write write scripts e.g. in response to "events" or to add custom menu items or dialogs etc. This was really popular at the time and place where I grew up.

My friends and I started off downloading scripts others wrote but at some point I was looking at some of those scripts and what they did and wanted to find out how they worked so first I started looking at that code, then I figured out how to write my own scripts and it just went on from there.

Predictably, plenty of folks started out wanting to make games:

Coder wrote - Many years ago, my uncle got me a coding thing, out of the blue. It was called Bitsbox. It's pretty much simplified JavaScript for kids. My first plan was to make an epic 3D first person open world survival game like Minecraft (remember, I didn't know how hard it was at the time). I started to make it, and got REALLY mad because I didn't even know 1 line of code. Then I made it my life goal to make it. And now, I just think it (coding) is fun (and I don't care about the game anymore).

Others came to programming later in life after a bout of burnout:

Ting-Ting Chen wrote - I ended up learning how to program because suddenly I had a lot of time (lockdowns) and I was burnt out of customer facing roles (customers can be horrible, bosses can be worse, salary is bad).

Other users share their personal experiences of wanting to find a way to get more computer time, receiving gifts as children, or visiting an IBM mainframe datacenter for the first time.

Check out the conversation and share your story if you've got one :)

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