While I was home visiting family this year, I booted up an old computer my parents had saved since my childhood. On it, I found the first full program I had ever written—a text-based game called “Fortune Cookie.” In short, you’d give it a number between 1-100 and the program would give you a fortune. There were a lot of GOTO statements.
I wrote it in BASIC, using Chipmunk Basic—a simple interpreter my Dad had installed for me to play with. It looks like you can still download and use it today for personal and educational use.
After writing Fortune Cookie, I tried a few other programming things, but eventually lost interest and spent my time playing guitar and making movies with my friends. I was probably around 15 at the time and I didn’t really become interested in coding again until I was 22.
Sometimes I hear from coworkers and industry people about how they started coding at 6 years old and were making games and selling software by the time they were in high school. That’s pretty cool, but it’s not that common, nor is it necessary for success.
One of my favorite things about this industry is that all you need is a computer, an internet connection, and the desire to learn. There are lots of paths to programming and every one is valid and good.