When you first start learning a new programming language, you’ll most likely begin with some reading about syntax and the different concepts used in the language. What you probably don't do is learn cool coding facts and the interesting history — and future — of coding. But there’s much more to coding than meets the eye.
To give you a taste of this fascinating world, here are some interesting facts about coding.
1. There are over 700 coding languages
These are just a handful of examples of the more than 700 programming languages out there today — that’s twice the number of languages spoken in the U.S. alone.
2. The first “computer bug” was an actual bug
A moth to be exact.
In 1947, a team of computer scientists and engineers at Harvard noticed that their computer wasn’t functioning properly. They decided to take a look at the computer’s hardware and discovered a moth trapped inside.
It was then that Grace Hopper, computer scientist and inventor of the first English-language data-processing compiler, recorded “first actual case of a bug being found” in the computer’s logbook.
Of course, today we refer to “bugs” as errors or flaws in code or computer systems — and debugging code is a big part of being a computer programmer. But the very first bug recorded involved an unlucky moth stuck in a computer.
3. The first computer viruses weren’t harmful
The simplest explanation of a computer virus is code that can copy itself and move to other computers, a concept that dates back to the 1940s. But it wasn’t until 1971 that Creeper, the first computer virus, was developed. The Creeper virus was designed as a security test, and all it did was display the message: “I’M THE CREEPER. CATCH ME IF YOU CAN.”
Fifteen years later, two Pakistani brothers developed the first stealth virus, Brain, which was hidden in software floppy disks. The brothers created the virus because they were tired of people making illegal copies of their medical software.
Today, when we think of computer viruses we think of their negative effects, like erasing data or corrupting a whole network of computers. But the first viruses all shared one thing in common: They weren’t designed to steal or corrupt data.
4. Coding isn’t just for the tech industry
Silicon Valley, Austin, Seattle, San Francisco, and other tech hubs are full of programmers, but you can find coding jobs in every state in the U.S. (and remote) and in every industry. In fact, about 70% of advertised coding jobs are outside of the tech industry. So while a coding job in the tech industry is an excellent career choice, you can expand your prospects simply by looking for jobs outside the tech industry.
This is great news for anyone who wants to switch careers to coding and development, because it means you have the option to stay in your current industry even if you want to become a computer programmer. For example, if you’re a marketer in the healthcare industry but your marketing role isn’t a good fit anymore, healthcare companies need people who know how to code — from Data Scientists to Cybersecurity Experts and everyone in between. So you can apply to companies that are making healthcare products you’re familiar with, and bring your knowledge and expertise to the development team.
In other words, coding gives you a lot of flexibility in deciding how to manage your career. If you want to work for a fast-paced Silicon Valley start-up, you can do that with your coding skills. If your true calling is in environmental non-profit work, your coding skills can help you achieve that dream, too.
5. Companies can’t hire enough coders
Even though every major industry needs people who know how to code, here’s the irony: There simply aren’t enough skilled programmers to go around. Over the last several years, the demand for coding skills has far exceeded the supply of people who know how to code. And this isn’t just a phase. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that computer and information technology (IT) jobs will grow by 13% between 2020 and 2030. That’s almost twice the estimated growth rate across all other occupations.
More specifically, roles for Software Developers and Quality Assurance Analysts are projected to grow by 22%, jobs in web development and digital design are projected to see a 13% increase, and Database Administrators and Architects could see an 8% jump.
This is great news if you’re considering a career in programming or are already on your way to becoming a developer, since employers all over the world will be looking to hire people with your skillset. It also means you’ll have the opportunity to explore positions in different parts of the country, and across a wide range of industries.
Ready to start coding?
You can also dive into web development, data science, game development, or mobile development and learn a programming language along the way, as well as everything you need to know to get started in one of these career paths.
Not sure where to start? Take our coding personality quiz to see which languages might suit you best.