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cboard_member
12-06-2005, 04:01 AM
I started programming at the age of 13, and I can remember how naive I was. I used to think I could do anything with VB, when I never actually did anything productive. I was also a pretty slow learner; it took me a while to understand the concept of variables. You know, I actually made something that I dubbed "MatrixClone" with VB6; a completely stupid "console" that took me a couple weeks to finish and was very badly coded, yet I was proud that I had actually finished something.

Anyhow, the real purpose of this thread is to test a hypothesis of mine, neatly scribbled on my doodlepad next to my monitor:

Does the age at which you start programming affect your competance as a programmer later on?

Generally I think it makes no difference whether you start programming at 13 or 31 - if you can understand it, you can be productive at it.

So what's the general oppinion around here? How old were you when you started programming? What was your first language? Do you think it makes / made a difference?

And yes, I like to doodle while I'm waiting for something to download / compile etc.

adrianxw
12-06-2005, 08:51 AM
I think the ability to learn decreases with age. That said, I believe you can learn new things as you get older, it just requires a bit more work.

I certainly believe a 31 year old could become a productive programmer, but someone who has been coding 20 years at that age will always be better.

Programming is not just about syntax etc. It is about solving problems, and an experienced programmer will have a large repotoire of ready solutions to problems in his/her portfolio simply because they have come up before.

BobMcGee123
12-06-2005, 09:53 AM
I certainly think somebody that starts younger and does it for a longer period of time will be better than the person that starts later and has less experience.

As adrian said, the ability to learn typically declines with age, but anybody motivated enough at virtually any age should be encouraged to learn (whether it be programming or mechanical engineering).

I tend to think people get a tad too caught up with age...everybody wants to be the child prodigy programmer and write the next elite gaming engine in record time.

stevong
12-06-2005, 09:55 AM
I tend to think people get a tad too caught up with age...everybody wants to be the child prodigy programmer and write the next elite gaming engine in record time.

But truth hurts: Not everyone is a child prodigy....

Dae
12-06-2005, 11:49 AM
So what's the general oppinion around here? How old were you when you started programming? What was your first language? Do you think it makes / made a difference?

Same as the guys above. I started HTML scripting when I was 12, I started some basic PHP programming when I was 15 and stopped a few months later, and I tried to learn to program for a GBA (C/C++) when I was 17 (but didn't know what a byte or binary or any of that was) and stopped less than a month later. I'm now 18, and around June 2 of this year I started learning C/C++ for real, but had stuff and stopped a month and a half later - and I've recently in the past week started programming again. I programmed (or edited scripts more rather) PHP off and on for a few years before learning C++. I don't think I learned enough in PHP to make a difference in my learning C++. But, I think being exposed to any scripting/programming gets you ready for errors and what to expect - where newbies might just quit because its different. I think what makes the most difference is actually wanting to learn this stuff. When I only wanted to program in C so that I could make a GBA game, all I did was edit other scripts I found and didn't really learn anything (I never knew what a macro was, but I had 20 of them). I've become determined to learn OO/C++ these past weeks and it really makes a difference. Simply wanting to learn and being determined to learn lots.

BobMcGee123
12-06-2005, 12:57 PM
Bubba's a great game programmer and he's a friggin geezer.

jmd15
12-06-2005, 03:50 PM
As Dae, I have been HTML scripting since age 12. I started C++ in my late 13's(I'm now 15, almost 16). I actually started PHP after I had been doing C++. I'm glad I didn't start off with VB, even though a VB book lying around is what peaked my interest in programming.

nickname_changed
12-06-2005, 04:19 PM
I think the idea that because you started younger you'll be better at _anything_ (except maybe sports I guess) is pretty silly. Learning early is definately an advantage, but it's no substitue for talent, work ethic and attitude.

In fact, it might be a disadvantage. You see all these "brainy" kids on TV who are very book smart etc., but when it comes to the real world they don't stand a chance, because they never learned to socialise. They might be able to write really fast graphic renderers at home, in the dark, between bites of pizza, but they don't work well in teams. They also often have a bad, elitist attitude because they think they were born into programming.

I'd rather work with a programmer who knew his stuff and made me laugh, than an elite who never communicated and made me afraid to ask questions.

A note about me: I played with Javascript when I was 14-15, then learnt C++ and changed my career goal from wanting to be an airforce pilot to wanting to be a programmer. I worked on as many projects as I could when I wasn't with my friends, family or school, and at 18 I moved 2,000KM away to work as a full time .NET developer with my own little appartment. Being self taught, good grades, and having lots of open source projects under my belt definately helped, but it was my attitude, personality, drive and rugged manly good looks that secured the job.

Starting programming at 5 years old isn't enough to make you the best at anything. It might be an advantage, but the 31 year old who's got a great attitude, is fun to work with, and is driven will always be better than the guy who started young and thinks the world owes him a living, even if they both have the same experience.

jrahhali
12-06-2005, 05:51 PM
>>I think the ability to learn decreases with age.
And i think it has been statistically proven.
But what i have noticed as i'm getting older (though i am only 18), i am able to understand and grasp the "whys" of concepts MUCH better. I think, indeed, you learn faster when you are younger. I do beleive, however, when you are getting older, you have much more wisdom and life experience to reflect on when you are learning, and so straightens the curve.

sand_man
12-06-2005, 10:28 PM
When I was 13 I smoked too much drugs, that's why I couldn't learn to program until I was about 17.

DavidP
12-07-2005, 03:19 AM
started programming in the 8th grade at the age of 13 or so.

My first language was Logo, and then I moved to BASIC. After a short interval of Visual Basic during the summer time I hit up C++ in the 9th grade and that has been my main language since that point.

Maragato
12-07-2005, 07:57 PM
>>I think the ability to learn decreases with age.
And i think it has been statistically proven.
But what i have noticed as i'm getting older (though i am only 18), i am able to understand and grasp the "whys" of concepts MUCH better. I think, indeed, you learn faster when you are younger. I do beleive, however, when you are getting older, you have much more wisdom and life experience to reflect on when you are learning, and so straightens the curve.
The problem is that you need a bunch of "training" to understand some concepts, that is why we see calculus, algebra and stuff even it beeing useless in practive it is at least suposed to develop logical skills in you that even the most addicted young programmer wont have. Well he may have but he wont be able to clean him self at the bathroom so he cant get your job :p

dimirpaw
12-08-2005, 12:38 AM
I started programming around 8-9, well it was just BASIC, however I moved on the Visual Basic when i was older and learned pretty much enough to do a lot of things. Now I'm learning C++ at 17 (Well not 17 untell dec 18 :)) So I don't know if being older makes it so you don't learn as much but I do know the more experince you have early on makes you a better programmer vs's say someone who has been doing it for 2 years and is the same age as you. You cannot sub. experince for age, learn while your young. :)

VirtualAce
12-08-2005, 12:39 AM
Well I'm not a 'geezer' but I've noticed my understanding of concepts and my skills in general are sharper than when I was younger. That is not because of age, but because of exposure. I've been programming for some time and I'm not going to say it because I don't want to sound like Mr. Sr. Software Engineer. Ok, I'm gonna get flamed for that, but oh well.

Here it is in general.
The more you play baseball, the better you become (unless you are hopeless)
The more you code, the better you become. (ditto)

I flunked Algebra and I lack calculus which really sucks, but I can still understand the math when presented to me. That's due to my own experience and research in 3D games and graphics. If it wasn't for good old fashioned reading, trial and error, and more reading....and more reading then I would have a hard time with it all.

Research. Research. Research
Read. Read. Read.
Code. Code. Code.
Wash, rinse, repeat about a billion times.

Even if you have a college degree in Comp Sci, technology changes all the time. What they taught you 10 or 20 years ago won't apply today. The math and all will but we all know that math in the classroom does not always make the exact same transition to computers. So we find...workarounds or more efficient ways to get the classroom result w/o all the classroom work. If we used the classroom example, Quake 4 would run at oh say 2 FPS. Even after college you will have to read and research to stay up to date. This stuff changes so fast.

That's why it's good to see companies beginning to state that having or not having a degree is not the issue. You can have the degree and yet not be able to solve the problems in code and/or think through them. Programming is about solving problems - and they are usually problems that have a specific solution that is catered to your program. So knowing the solution isn't even enough sometimes, you have to be able to apply it in your code.
No one is going to tell you exactly how to solve the problem in relation to your specific goals. And, in the case of game programming, usually the solution you create is 'similar' to someone else's, but not exactly the same.

Experience is really worth it's weight in gold, be it commercial, or hobbyist. Age doesn't matter but experience does. The two are not necessarily associated.

BobMcGee123
12-08-2005, 08:38 AM
I do agree 100% but I don't want to totally undermine the value of having a degree. If nothing else, it shows you can put up with BS long enough to achieve something (a BS) which we all know is a valuable asset in any aspect of society. Knowing formal terminology makes communication much easier...the buzzwords don't have to make sense, but having some sort of similar lingo makes you seem more knowledgable . I went in for a programming job interview. I didn't know what rational databasing was, but once the interviewer started talking about it I listed cases where I had alread been using it in my own projects.

I still ultimately hate organized education with a fiery passion.

IfYouSaySo
12-08-2005, 06:28 PM
Ambition and elbow grease can give a PHD and 25 years of experience a run for it's money.

SlyMaelstrom
12-08-2005, 06:31 PM
Sadly in today's world of "Minimum BS and 5 years experience" ambition and elbow grease doesn't get you much further than the "daily feature" at newgrounds.com

nickname_changed
12-08-2005, 07:40 PM
Sadly in today's world of "Minimum BS and 5 years experience" ambition and elbow grease doesn't get you much further than the "daily feature" at newgrounds.com
You'll find that's not so much of a problem when you realise most work can be found outside of newspapers and job websites ;)

VirtualAce
12-09-2005, 12:22 AM
Order of importance IMO:

1. Attitude - this one is a biggie
2. Education/Knowledge (so I wasn't totally discounting college - but it's not the end all be all of life)
3. Experience

IfYouSaySo
12-09-2005, 12:13 PM
Attitude - this one is a biggie


I agree, insomuch as ambition and work-ethic are attitude traits. Also a desire to continue learning, and a desire to produce quality software as an end in itself fit in that category.

And even though experience is at the bottom, it can still be a deal-breaker in terms of scoring a job, if you don't have enough of it, even if you have the right attitude qualities in trumps.

Ancient Dragon
12-09-2005, 12:56 PM
I was about 40 when I started programming when on active duty in the USAF in 1980. I didn't start learning C until I retired in 1985 -- bought a crappy computer with os9 operating system and a book. I recall it took several days just to get a HelloWorld to work! Now, at age 63, I feel like I'm still learning. Don't let anyone kid you into thinking that you can't teach an old dog new tricks :)

dimirpaw
12-12-2005, 12:50 AM
Your 100% right Ancient Dragon, just because your 63 doesn't mean you cannot learn anything more or new. I think its more about having the will to learn more then anything. It kinda proves it when people like you Ancient Dragon are learning at pass mid age.

BobMcGee123
12-12-2005, 10:58 AM
1. Attitude - this one is a biggie


Aye!! Hardy har harr.

nvoigt
12-12-2005, 11:15 AM
I'm not sure when I started programming. Around age 12 or 13 I guess. I wrote a lot of crappy BASIC apps on the Atari. Mostly stuff I could use myself. An AD&D character generator. Implemented a very simple windowing system of my own for this one, because I couldn't figure out the native API. God, about 30% of this project must have consisted of the word "goto" *shudder*. Then a math program for drawing graphs for school. And then some other stuff. I have never been a great programmer just because. I'm a programmer because I'm freaking lazy. Why do something manually when a computer can do it faster :D

~Kyo~
12-12-2005, 11:28 AM
I started fairly young after finding a amiga basic book in a box out in the garage at the time it was way beyond me but I picked up a few basics. I took a C++ course in HS and did poorly mainly because I was coding a game and didn't want to do the BS classwork. After that I got my own compiler on my computer at home I think it was a MAC at the time and kept coding. A few years later I got to college and took a few courses on C++. Kept coding ever since that brings us to today 22 years old and only one text based RPG and one MMORPG to show for it.

CompiledMonkey
12-18-2005, 06:08 PM
Kept coding ever since that brings us to today 22 years old and only one text based RPG and one MMORPG to show for it.

Wow, I think that's so stupid. So many people around here consider how many games they make how successful they are. If that's the case, I have never been successful in this discipline.

~Kyo~
12-19-2005, 02:44 AM
Wow, I think that's so stupid. So many people around here consider how many games they make how successful they are. If that's the case, I have never been successful in this discipline.


My games were only successful in teaching me the skills I was tring to take out of writing them. The MMORPG showed me how to hack some server client code together. So successful in one aspect but unsuccessful in others such as obtaining a playerbase etc.

CompiledMonkey
12-19-2005, 01:30 PM
My games were only successful in teaching me the skills I was tring to take out of writing them. The MMORPG showed me how to hack some server client code together. So successful in one aspect but unsuccessful in others such as obtaining a playerbase etc.

That's true.

h_howee
12-21-2005, 11:45 PM
I started programming last year (at the age of 12). started with html, then javascript, then css, a bit about java applets but i hardly understood anything, and started c++ in the summer of 2005. I have lots of patience and determination. So far, the best program I've made is a shooting game where your a ship at the bottom of the screen and you shoot aliens moving around at the top. I could start learning c++ later but I want to start making money (my primary obsession!) as early as possible so I'm starting early. I also learn extra math at home for graphics since they go too slow in my schools math classes. This gives me an advantage in school too but im always too careless :( .


but when it comes to the real world they don't stand a chance, because they never learned to socialise.

I also have a friends starting c++, he learn from online tutorials but when he needs help or when we're working on a program together, we work quite well together.

this is the most ive ever written on any of my post...and now i feel like bragging,
I SOLVED A RUBIKS CUBE IN 27.18 SECONDS

SlyMaelstrom
12-22-2005, 12:09 AM
Wow, not bad... you must use the real fast method. The best I've managed was around a minute.

Shadow
12-22-2005, 07:16 PM
I started programming and learning things useful to programming when I was like 12 or 13. BASIC programs, batch files, confident knowledge of the operating system, memory, file structure, etc. Did some amature C programming for awhile, primarily here.

Now I'm interested in back-end PHP/MySQL and things like that. The coders side of web design.

IfYouSaySo
12-22-2005, 07:26 PM
I was 24 or 25. Somewhere around 1998. I was just learning basics of computers, like Word, Excel, what HTML was, some terminology, etc. and a guy in the IT department loaned me his Pascal programming book and a floppy disk with turbo pascal. A few months later, a friend of mine had just taken a JC course on VB programming, and he was all excited because he had written a GUI program that converted farenheit to celcius, and he convinced me to sign up for an intro to c++ course with him. He hated it because c++ wasn't programming ("This isn't the way people program nowadays, you should just be able to drag and drop and click some buttons..."), and I loved it. Got a job coding about a year later and went back to school & recently finished a CS degree.

h_howee
12-23-2005, 11:31 PM
Wow, not bad... you must use the real fast method. The best I've managed was around a minute.

I have a good lubricated cube, know almost all of the JIRI premutation algs and jasmine lee's beginner method, Thats all