They say that practice makes perfect. Few skills fit the bill of this saying more than programming; a skill that takes repetition, studying, and patience. It is best, then, to start coding at a young age and “grow up” while learning to code. This worked out very well for quite a few people – among them some incredibly famous developers and programmers who started coding at an exceedingly early age. We will take a closer look at some of these most successful coders, programmers, and developers who started practicing their skills at quite a young age.
The advantages of starting to code at a young age
Before we take a closer look at the people who started their practice early, it is good to know why exactly it is a good idea to start learning young. It is no secret that kids absorb information a lot better than adults – and as their brains develop and take in that new information as they grow, so will their skills. Not to mention that programming teaches kids how to solve problems in a very methodical way as they learn to approach problems step by step.
- Bill Gates
No one would be surprised to find Bill Gates on such a list. At a young age, he dropped out of the prestigious university Harvard in order to focus on building up a little company we, today, know as Microsoft. At an even younger age, though, he already focused on building up all the skills he would later need to follow his dream and create his empire.
Bill Gates was born on October 28, 1955. He went to a prestigious school called Lakeside School. While in school, a Seattle Computer Company offered computer time for students, which was Bill Gates’ first contact with a computer at just 13 years old. He quickly learned the BASIC programming language and created a Tic Tac Toe program. He was fascinated with what a computer could do – and back then, computers were much simpler than the powerhouses we see today.
This early curiosity helped him to become the amazing programmer and developer he is today. He learned a complicated programming language at a time when computers were barely known to most people and there was no internet to quickly look up coding syntax. This tenacity is an inspiration to any young coder and shows that anyone can learn programming – and doing so at a young age can prove to be very beneficial.
- Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg is another well-known example that highlights the value of learning coding early in life. Today, he is the head of Facebook, but even as a kid, he took a solid interest in learning to code and program. In the 90s, he had already learned BASIC programming. His father saw his potential and hired software developer David Newman to give Mark private lessons at home.
When he reached middle school, he was already adept at using computers and wrote software as a hobby. Some of this software even made it into magazines. Zuckerberg started coding at a young age and was able to build up his skills step by step to become the prestigious developer he is today. While he doubtlessly had access to resources not everyone has, he shows that you can be a programmer, a “nerd” and still follow other passions while building up your skills – he was the captain of his prep school fencing team, for example.
- Tanmay Bakshi
While hearing stories about adults that started coding as kids can be inspiring, they may sometimes also seem a bit far removed – especially since they had to have started coding and programming in the 90s. Tanmay Bakshi is an exception to this role as he is just 15 years old and already grabbed attention a few years ago.
His father, a computer programmer, inspired him to take his first steps at only 5 years old. He took an especially keen interest in developing apps and programs for iPhone – so much so, that he created his own YouTube channel at just 7 years old to teach other kids how to become better at coding and web development. He created his first app at just 9 years old.
Tanmay shows that there is almost no age that is too young to start coding. It builds up problem solving skills and sharpens abilities that will certainly shape our future – and it is fun to boot!
- Kautilya Katariya
Kautilya Katariya lives in the UK and his story is inspiring: at just six years old he became the Guinness World Record Holder for being the youngest AI programmer. How did he do it? By completing a specific series of computer lessons that come from IBM.
He started coding at a young age, by taking it upon himself to read Python and IBM course materials all on his own and has now completed several courses, with a “Foundations Of AI” course among them. He is putting his entire dedication into learning it – and being so young, he will grow up with a wealth of knowledge that will undoubtedly serve him well.
A few interviews shed light on his passion for programming: he says that “cool things are either run by a computer programmer or made using programming”. His parents provided the books and means for him to do his research, but he provided the passion; and soon he became very knowledgeable in the programming language python and interested in AI. Right now, he is learning about the advanced concepts of AI programming; it seems like he is all set for the future.
- Emmanuel Escamilla
While you surely knew most of the names in this list so far, Emmanuel Escamilla may be the exception – and for a good reason. While it is definitely inspiring to see people start as kids that go on to be famous and knowledgeable programmers, it is also prudent to look at the other side of the medal – the fact that not everyone has access to the same resources and teachings that many of us do.
Emmanuel Escamilla knows this very well, as this article shows. He is currently spearheading the CodeX program, which is designed to teach kids and adults programming to escape poverty. In addition he has never forgot about his own roots as he grew up very poor in a trailer park, though he was always interested in programming. Eventually, he was able to go to a university, learn programming and founded the program as a means to help others get out of the place he knows all too well.
He is not the only one either – many people do not have the same chance to learn as others do. They may not have access to the internet or do not have a means to constantly study programming. Looking at people like Emmanuel, with a story that ends well but starts out rough, can help us stay grounded and focused – and shows, yet again, how important it is to start coding young.
- Jack Dorsey
A very recognizable name for many, Jack Dorsey is the founder and creator of the immensely popular “Twitter” platform – a social media where conversations are kept short and to the point. Today, Twitter is one of the most popular Social Media platforms available and going head-to-head with Facebook.
Like many others, Jack Dorsey started programming at a young age. When he was eight, his parents bought him a Macintosh computer which got him into both computers and programming. Eventually, he started to learn about software programming and built apps on his computer in his free time.
The culmination of his learning occurred while he was studying at New York University, where he had an idea for a Social Network – this idea eventually led to Twitter, now one of the biggest and most popular websites in the world.
The inspiration here is this: often it all starts with an idea, though it is important to have the skills to make this idea a reality. Starting coding at a young age ensures that kids grow up not only with a problem-solving mindset, but also all the knowledge that is needed to be prepared for the future; and, maybe, the next big idea will come all on its own.
- Daphne Koller
Even nowadays, there is a bias – it may be unconscious and not acted upon, but it is still there. The bias in question is against women in programming. While most people these days do not mind and many women around the world work in programming or engineering, this wasn’t always that way and even now a small bias exists that puts women’s abilities in this profession in question.
This bias used to be much worse and women in programming or engineering were very rarely seen. Daphne Koller is a great example of what happens if you keep pushing through, though – today this famous developer works at Stanford as a professor of Computer Science. She became interested in coding at a noticeably young age and used her skills to continuously improve herself and work her way up to her current position and knowledge.
Aside from her teaching at Stanford she inspires us in different ways, too; she is one of the founders of Coursera, an online platform that offers many courses for programming. All these courses are curated by big learning institutions, such as Stanford, and offer a great opportunity for kids and adults alike to learn.
Daphne’s story does not only show us the benefits of learning and studying coding at an early age, but also tells us that, no matter your gender or background, you can become what you want to be and get better at what you like. However this usually means that you might have to push against a little bit of opposition.
- Larry Page
Larry Page is one of the founders of the well-known search engine we all use every day – Google. The knowledge that he used to create this powerful website did not just come to him – as a kid, he took an early interest in coding and slowly built up his skills. While in college, he wrote an academic paper that contained the first foundation of what eventually came to be Google.
He described his childhood as “a mess, with computers, science and technology magazines and Popular Science magazines all over the place”. He was an avid reader and took a big liking to Nikola Tesla; his biography was part of what inspired him to later build up Google and taught him about the necessity of earning money to create new technological inventions. That is only part of it though; the other part is knowledge. He did not only take an interest in programming; music was another big part and he had a thorough musical education growing up. This musical education, he said, helped him create the legacy of Google, as he compares the speed of playing music to the speed of a search engine.
- Linus Torvalds
The second to last entry on this list is meant for Linus Torvalds – father of the operating system known as Linux. Before developing this system that is used by millions of computers and similar devices around the world, Linus was extremely interested in coding as a child and grew up around a time where computers slowly got more popular. That gave him the ideal environment to further brush up his skills and learn everything there is to learn about programming and development.
His university studies were interrupted to complete his mandatory military service in Finland, his country of birth. Afterwards, he continued his studies, persevered and went on to create Linux. Even the smallest of starts and a little bit of practice can lead to big successes like one of the most well-known operating systems in the world – all it takes is to stick to it!
- Ada Lovelace
Ada Lovelace is often considered the first computer programmer ever – which makes sense, considering that she lived in the beginning of the 19th century. Our modern computers were nothing more than a dream back then, but Ada Lovelace thought differently about many problems. She made contributions to the general-purpose mechanical computer as well as the Analytical Engine that is generally attributed to Charles Babbage.
She was interested in math and numbers from a young age and took a keen interest in the Analytical Engine. The Analytical Engine was used to calculate formulas using punch cards. Its simple design is similar to our modern computers. Ada Lovelace used it to compute Bernoulli Numbers – that is why she is known as the “first computer programmer in the world” and was a woman that contributed much for the computers and programs to follow. The programming language “Ada” was named after her.
Should you learn coding at a young age?
Now that you know more about successful programmers that started their journey with code early on in life, you can better understand how it much of a tremendous benefit it was to them. As you learned, there are a variety of ways in which you can start to learn coding, but some prefer online coding classes for kids that are taught by experts who can help them master the content.