My first program — how I got into coding

Monster Maker — a great way for young kids to get started with coding

Great things start from the smallest of beginnings. We went around the office and asked the team how they got into coding. Some started younger than others; some fell into it when they least expected to. Everyone’s coding journey is different- maybe these will remind you of yours.

If you are inspired by our stories and want to get into coding yourself, or want to get bring coding into your classroom, our Intro to Programming (Python) and Intro to Programming (Blockly) courses are great way to get started.

Some of us started out teaching ourselves at a young age:

Ben — Learning Engineer

It was Visual Basic 5. I was 9.

My dad gave me a book called ‘Visual Basic 5 for Dummies’. I barely read the book.

But there was this video tutorial that came with the book which taught you how to make a card game. I followed that, then modified it into a Pokémon game which let you choose your own Pokémon to battle another person’s Pokémon. That was fun.

I did a little bit of coding in years 9 and 10 but I found it really hard to understand and there wasn’t a lot of support. One of my friends showed me a game making program which used a visual coding system. I liked that and made a few games.

It probably wasn’t until year 11 that I really got coding. In year 11 my teacher Jo Spring made me do the NCSS challenge, which was then in its first year. That was a big deal. I really enjoyed it, I especially enjoyed Python. I felt like I really began to understand coding, instead of copying, pasting and making guesses.

Jess — Software Engineer

The first program I made was in Basic, and was copied out of a book that my Dad had left lying next to the computer. It was a simple game, called “Runner”, which had a little man being chased down levels by a ball.

I loved bringing that game to life, but I had no idea what the code was doing! It was way too complicated for a first program, but it did inspire me to go on and write another program: this time from scratch. My text adventure was modelled on “The Secret of Bastow Manor” (1983!) which gives you an idea of how young I was when I was writing this code.

It wasn’t until years later (many years!) that I did any further programming, when I started my Science degree. Computer Science was initially just an extra course to fill out my units, and I had no idea that I was starting my career as a programmer. I really fell into it by complete accident!

James- Chief Executive Officer

Not even sure I remember the first program I ever wrote. Probably ‘Hello, World!’ on a Commodore 64.

The two most substantial programs I wrote when I was young though, I remember. My dad is a piano tuner and I wrote the application that ran his business. And the other thing I wrote was a 3D visualisation of the elements in the periodic table. I typed in all the data so it could do a 3D isometric visualisation, show you stuff like the density of all the elements.

Some of us were first introduced to coding at high school:

Viv — Engagement Engineer

My first experience with programming was probably using Scratch in Year 10.

I wrote my first lines of code when I went to the NCSS Summer School at the beginning of Year 11. We were working on building a search engine in groups of about 20. I really enjoyed it because it was one of the few times during my schooling years where group work was actually necessary to complete the task.

I then did a science degree at uni, but continued to take a computer science subject every semester. I’d realised that if I wanted to do science in this day and age, I needed programming.

Tim — Chief Technical Officer

Printing your name, in year 9 probably. One of the biggest software projects I wrote back in school was a system which does all the rankings and keeps track of the scores for the school carnivals. That was a good learning experience.

Some didn’t start coding until university or even later!

Renee — Software Engineer

The first program I wrote was in Python, just messing around with the usual stuff, ‘Hello World’, print your name, slicing up strings.

I remember it vividly, possibly because I started coding a lot later than others. I had just moved to Sydney for university and I was living in college. I had made friends with some guys who lived on my floor, and late one night they decided they would teach me to program. I had never done any programming before, I didn’t really even know what it was or that you could just start doing it on your personal computer.

I fell in love with programming and with one of the guys. I enrolled in my first programming course and eventually graduated with a computer science major, something I never would have expected when I signed up for uni. Seven years later I’m a software engineer, in love with programming, in love with teaching others to program and still in love with the guy who first taught me to program.

Christie — Marketing Manager

I have only really gotten into coding this year. I learnt some basic HTML at uni in first year when I needed to fill a gap in my timetable, and used MATLAB a bit during my science degree. I tried a few times to learn to code over the years, but most of the online courses are too easy to cheat on, I worked out very quickly I could just copy and paste the sample code and change the relevant bits, so I never actually learnt anything.

I started at Grok only a few months ago, and have been learning to code through the courses on our platform, and it is working! I can’t cheat in the courses, I actually have to understand what I am doing to complete the questions. I am really enjoying finally being able to understand how programming works, and even though I am not anywhere near an expert, I now know enough that writing a program from scratch is no longer scary and overwhelming.

We hope you enjoyed hearing about our first experiences with coding, give us a clap (or 50) if you want to read more stories like this. We would love to hear your stories, please share them in the comments below!