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Why Did You Become A Software Developer?


As it is still a relatively young profession, it's interesting to see why people became software developers. It can be a fantastic question to ask at an interview, as an honest answer gives you real insight into how passionate someone really is about developing software, or at least can help guage potential. A lot of the time people are simply in it for the money. Other times I find that people have fallen into the industry - they had a different idea of what their degree would lead to, and ended up somewhere completely different. Although this happens, it's not necessarily a bad thing.

I'd like to see why readers decided to become a software developer. After voting, please leave comments to give us some more insight. Perhaps, more importantly, how can we encourage new graduates to join the software industry

I heard that software developers got paid well
15% (190 votes)
Someone prompted me in this direction
8% (99 votes)
I couldn't think of something better to do
17% (223 votes)
I wanted the challenge
24% (316 votes)
I've always wanted to be a developer ever since... (leave comment)
29% (374 votes)
Other reason (leave comment)
8% (99 votes)
Total votes: 1301


James Sugrue replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 1:10am

While money definitely had a bearing in my final decision, I think I was always destined towards the software development industry. When I was younger I messed around with BASIC a little, and even though the games I created were simple (and just copied out of some BASIC book), I was amazed by the potential. I did have ideas of becoming a game developer, but I never got around to that. Now, I can't see myself doing anything else apart from writing or designing software.


Ivo Limmen replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 1:19am

Ever since I first touched a computer (a VIC-20), I liked computers. I started programming in BASIC, later on I tried C++ under Amiga and then accidentally came across a study for ICT and decided that was what I wanted to be.

Zqudlyba Navis replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 1:49am

Because I'm looking for intellectual stimulation and being able to build something concrete with my bare hands...something tangeable.  I want to be able to come home some days and say "I built something fun and useful today".

I had a stint as a project manager for 13 months and I didn't find it intellectually stimulating, so I went back to coding.  As a project manager, at the end of each day, I couldn't say to myself "what useful stuff did I do today", because most of the time I was in useless meetings, phone calls, interviews, presentations, pushing paper (ms word) or creating power bloody point slides. All those project management stuff are actually administrative secretarial duties that could easily be done by not so bright high school drop outs.

Here's a useless business analyst at Initech from the movie Office Space. It reminds me of a useless Pointy Haired Project Manager


"I deal with the god damn customers so the engineers don't have to. I have people skills; I am good at dealing with people! Can't you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people?"


Bogdan Marian replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 2:29am

I touched a computer for the very first time when I was around 12 years old. I was playing GrandPrix at my mother's workplace. Then I took a BASIC class at school for around 1 year and a half. I have written my first program when I was around 13 years old. Then I graduated a computer science highschool and then got my university degree in the same field. For me, programming is one of my biggest passions, so I am not in it because of the money, but I am very happy beying paid for doing it. What is really interesting is that through programming I have come to have a personal relation with Jesus Christ, but this is another story ...

Gabor Farkas replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 3:06am

I was quite young, like 10 years old when it was already decided :) I loved maths and physics, then my father bought an enterprise 128. I came to enjoy programming so much, that it was not actually a question later which career I choose. And yes, I also started with BASIC :)

Radek Jun replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 3:26am

It was at basic school (around 10 years old) where I first met BASIC. I was really fascinated about it! Later I met C/C++ (Borland 3.1 for DOS) and I knew that it's what I really want to do :).

Fabrizio Giudici replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 3:34am

I've got a similar story, having had my first computer at 13, so I got my first money from software at 16. When I was at the university I pursued a master degree in electronics (even though my thesis dealt with compilers and microprocessor emulators, really on the software side), but I soon refocused on pure software as I realized that there were just a handful of career chances with electronics in my country. Also, designing and developing software is a thing that I like very much.

Endre Varga replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 3:57am

I started programming with a 286 in QuickBasic. I learned the language from the help files :)

At the end of High School I wanted to be an economist (!), but changed my mind after seeing what technical universities offer, and finally applied for CompSci. It was a good decision ;)

Endre Varga replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 4:17am

Also it would be interesting to see, how our primary language choices evolved over time.

For me, it is: QuickBasic -> Pascal -> Delphi (ObjectPascal) -> C -> C++ -> Java -> Scala

James Sugrue replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 4:19am in response to: Endre Varga

Good idea 

Mine would be Basic -> Pascal -> Java -> C/C++ -> Java 

Chris Treber replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 5:55am

I made my long term hobby my profession (started out with 6202 kit, TI-58, TI-59, Commdore PET, C-64, Atari ST)! My chain of languages: Commodore Basic, 6502 Assembler, Atari Basic, Visual Basic (this is an embarassing amount of Basic!), C++ (3 years), Java (12 years).


Wujek Srujek replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 5:47am

I started on the 3rd year at uni (5 years in total), last year I worked for a company.

asm -> pascal -> (proper larning) java / bash :D -> freedom (I learn what I want and when I want: python, scala, ....)

Now I have been doing this for almost 3 yrs profesionally (which makes my overall programmer career 5 yrs long). I feel like a newbie :D

Piero Sartini replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 5:49am

I got my first IBM PC with 7 years.. it was a huge device. But since then I was interested in how computers work and what I can do with them. 

Languages: BASICA -> QBASIC -> PowerBasic -> TurboPascal -> C -> PHP, JavaScript -> JAVA .. and now some JVM languages like JavaFX, Groovy and Scala. Learning never ends.

Fred Gracely replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 7:20am

Great idea, but personally I think your list omits one of the main reasons that a lot of people become software engineers: creativity. A lot of SWE folk are creative by nature and SWE is one of the best ways to be creative professionally. Consider the high number of musicians, artists, and writers who become software engineers. Also consider the plight of "re-use" and how the major detractor is that SWE people want to create, not re-use. Personally, when I wrote my first clunky text-based adventure game on a Commodore 64 (yes, and I stored it on an audio tape that my sister overwrote with Duran Duran), I fell in love. I love to create stuff, and SWE offers a rich environment for creating. And, there are paychecks too!

John Conner replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 7:40am

Wanted to be a games developer - making cool explosions, etc - but ended up writing Insurance software ;<

Guillem Plasencia replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 8:17am

Because the company i work for not only does molecular design and computational chemistry for the pharma industry, but also develops some of the software programs that are used in the field.

Tim Berglund replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 9:02am

When I was ten years old, I ordered a book on BASIC programming from the Scholastic Book Club. I read it in the fall, then got a Commodore Vic 20 for Christmas. Over the next few years, my father and I enjoyed programming together in BASIC, later 8086 assembly language, and finally C. Getting that book on BASIC just seemed like the self-evident course of action—there was really no process of reasoning through why this is something I wanted to do—and this was later cemented by years of father-son cooperation. It's a good way to start in the profession.

Gregor Kovač replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 9:04am

I always wanted to be a developer, from the primary school on, when I did my first baby steps in Turbo Pascal. :))

Jose Luis Monte... replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 9:20am

I can date my first programs back on my high-school days - just 30 years ago - when my parents bought me a HP-21C. Since then I got hooked and I knew this was what I wanted to do for a living - and I still love this stuff!

Dale Wyttenbach replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 9:23am

Because when I returned to college after having dropped out of an Engineering program, Computer Science was the only technology major that I didn't have to take Diff Eq :)

Michele Mauro replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 9:33am

My uncle (in 1980) had an Apple-][+ with full blown Language Card, 64k RAM, and UCSD Pascal. I still remember it as an excellent IDE... Never gave up programming since...

Antonio Antonelli replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 9:39am

Because I love the future and IT world helps to imagine it well

The Rpk67u replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 9:50am

I do really think I was born to be a developer. It's almost a faith, as I've fallen in love with computers since I approached them. :D Also, I worked as sysadm for a few years, but this job makes me bored and distressed. So I decided to start as developer again, and now I'm really happy!!!!!!!! I won't be able to change this job again!!! :D

Peter Veentjer replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 9:53am

For me the most important aspect of creating software, is the technical challenge and visualising how something should/could look. Structuring chaos..


Peter Veentjer 

Multiverse: Software Transactional Memory for Java


Marco Rietveld replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 10:11am

Once upon a time, I was premed student, but organic chem was too hard -- and comp. sci was cool. 

Then I was a comp. sci student, but it was too abstract -- so I got a job as a sysadmin (and kept studying). 

Then I was a systems administrator (sysadmin) -- but people only spoke to me when they were problems and my colleagues were weird. So I got a job as an (information) analyst. 

Then I was an (information) analyst -- but I never got to really make anything. I was just analyzing.. and I missed the code and started reading books about code. My housemate saw that one day and said "Why aren't you a developer?"

And now I'm a developer! People ask me to make things, and I get to make them! And when I need to, I end up playing "information analyst" or "sysadmin". :)


(Ironically, when I graduated from university,  the last thing I wanted to be was a developer: I figured I'd end up working on a small part of the system, never get to see the whole thing and sit in a corner all day in front of a computer. None of those ended up being true.. ) 

Clure Rogre replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 10:16am

I got into programming when my brother wrote out a program for me to type in, on a Spectrum 48k... I was hooked! This was around age 8. I then got into football management games, and would re-right the code, adding features and just having fun. Taught myself PC's, Pascal, OOP etc by the age of 12. By this time, I thought the best job in the world would be a programmer - especially at a games company. But most importantly was just coding... doing that and getting paid, just seemed like the best idea ever! :) After 10 years in the industry as a Java Developer - I still do!

Javier Fernández replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 10:28am

In my case, becoming a developer was a secondary option. I got a degree in Physics, but Spain is not a good place for scientific researchers. So, since Physics is about solving problems, and, in some sense, so does software development, I only had to start learning some programming languages. And that's it. It's been ten years since I got into this "world", and, except for incompetent managers (who are really abundant in Spain), I have to say that I really like it.

Sean Patterson replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 10:30am

I've always wanted to be a developer ever since... ...I saw my cousin's TI 99-4/A when I was about 10 years old or so. I jumped in on the basic stuff and learned a valuable lesson: Save! Too bad I didn't have one of those cassette disk drives back in the day. There has always been this balance between form and function, art and technology that keeps my love of programming going.

Mean Variance replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 10:36am

I sort of stumbled into software development. I was doing tech support for enterprise software (Essbase) in the mid 90's. No one was taking ownership of supporting the Visual Basic APIs that customers used, so I took the time to learn. As I started to transition my way to the QA group, the development group offered to interview me and take the chance of brining a junior developer in. I jumped at the chance.

I learned C from the pros in the development group and was off running.  Later another company took a chance at hiring me as a Java programmer, again not knowing the language. Now, I've been programming Java for 11 years. Right now I'm trying to learn Objective C (and it hurts!).

Dave Leblanc replied on Tue, 2010/05/04 - 11:01am

Ever since the first time I touched a computer I was curious about every aspect about it. how to setup DOS, autoexec.bat and config.sys. I began to learn BASIC and it just snowballed from there.

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