Earlier this year, HackerRank did a study of 40,000 developers to find out a little more about their coding experience and uncover the trends of modern developers.
Their study yielded some interesting results including the fact that about 25 per cent of their respondents (approximately 10,000 developers) began coding before the age of 16.
Another enlightening find was that 73.7 per cent of them attributed their mastery of coding to being partially self-taught.
We take a look at some of the best known self-taught programmers who went on to head and start their own companies below.
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Lyndsey Scott, App Developer for several apps, including Educate!
She might have walked the runways of Victoria’s Secret, Louis Vuitton and plenty of other established brands but for Lyndsey Scott, one of her biggest accomplishments is getting her apps developed and approved. One of her most famous apps is Educate!, an app that connects the public to young African entrepreneurs in need of funding and support.
According to what the self-taught programmer told CNN, “With modelling, you never have control over anything. So being able to have complete power with these apps I develop is very fulfilling.”
Lyndsey first started out coding back in middle school when she learned that she could create games on her TI-89 Graphing Calculator. These days, the model-actress spends her time coding remotely for clients late throughout the night or in between modelling gigs, as revealed on her Quora page.
She’s also consistently ranked as one of the top answer-providers on Stack Overflow, giving advice to those in need of computer programming and iOS app development tips.
However, success didn’t come easy for Lyndsey. While she was in high school, she dealt with constant bullying and struggled a lot with her status as a nerd. You can read more about her struggles here.
Jack Dorsey, Co-Founder and CEO of Twitter and Square
Quite possibly one of the most successful self-taught programmers around, Jack co-founded social media site, Twitter, and electronic payment service, Square.
Thanks to his love for maps and police dispatch systems, Jack taught himself how to programme and soon got a job at a dispatch management firm. While working for the dispatch firm, Jack created a status-sharing platform that is still being used by some taxicab companies across America.
After much development, the budding entrepreneur later created a Twitter prototype together with Christopher Stone, the founder of Xanga. The two then pitched their idea to Odeo before getting funding for their approved project.
However, after he was exiled from the company for reportedly leaving early for leisurely activities like yoga, Jack went on to create Square.
In various interviews, Jack has talked about he’s proud of becoming a self-taught programmer. “The reason I dropped out [of school] is because I was learning more with a higher velocity outside of school than I was in school,” he said at the New York University Entrepreneurs Festival.
Marissa Mayer, Co-Founder of Lumi Labs
Back in 1999, Marissa joined Google as its 20th employee and was the company’s first ever female engineer. While she was there, the Stanford graduate went on to head major Google products including Maps, Earth and News.
Marissa’s interest in tech began when she was in third grade and taught herself to write programmes that drew simple patterns on her computer. In college, Marissa took on symbolic systems and computer science, specialising in artificial intelligence.
For her undergraduate thesis, Marissa created a travel-recommendation software. Upon leaving Yahoo in 2017, Marissa started her own company, Lumi Labs. Lumi Labs focuses on artificial intelligence and consumer media.
Elon Musk, Founder and CEO of SpaceX and Tesla
Perhaps one of the most famous self-taught coders around, Elon taught himself computer programming at the age of 10 and created a video game called Blastar by the age of 12. He eventually sold Blastar to a computer magazine company for $500. It was apparent that Elon had an entrepreneurial spirit when he started his own company at the age of 24 with his brother.
Elon then went on to play a major part in other companies including PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX. According to Elon, the best way to learn a topic, on your own or otherwise, is to make sure you understand the basics.
Through a Reddit Ask Me Anything thread (because, why not?), Elon responded to a question posed by a user about how he manages to consume knowledge so quickly. “One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to,” Elon explained.
Krystal Choo, CEO & Co-Founder of Tickle
By the time she was 27, Krystal had already founded four companies. Most recently, Krystal launched Tickle, an app that allows users to connect with each other through social experiences.
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and Co-Founder of Facebook
Mark first learned to operate his dad’s computer at the age of 10 and built a program connecting his father’s home and office computers.
By 11, Mark had already read his first book on programming and taught himself to code in C++. Throughout his adolescence, Mark created video games for friends.
Sometime while in Harvard university, Mark programmed Facemash, a type of ‘hot-or-not’ site that students of Harvard could use to rate other students. Following some protests and a possible chance of expulsion from school, Mark took the site down.
He eventually created Facebook. The social networking site initially started out as a Harvard student directory featuring photos and basic information of each student.
A few weeks after the launch, Mark opened Facebook up to the public and more than 1,200 people signed up within the night it launched.
Facebook has since undoubtedly became one of the biggest social media giants around.
Kevin Systrom, Co-Founder of Instagram
Together with Mike Krieger, Kevin founded Instagram back in 2010.
While working as a marketer, Kevin taught himself to programme and build his first ever Instagram prototype. However, his interest in coding started when he was introduced to computer programming while in school.
Through playing games like Doom 2, Kevin taught himself to create and edit new levels. He jokingly says that Doom was what started his love for programming.
Kevin’s inspiration for Instagram came when his then-girlfriend was too embarrassed to post photos that she took while on vacation online because she felt they weren’t good enough aesthetically. He created the prototype for Instagram using HTML5 and got friends to test the filter and photo sharing app. Till today, the X-Pro II filter that Kevin first created is still used on the app.
Adda Birnir, CEO and Co-Founder of Skillcrush
With the help of some mentors, Adda taught herself how to code.
The self-taught programmer confesses that she was inspired by Instagram co-founder, Kevin Systrom who too, taught himself to code.
“The key here is not that he ended up CTO of the company, but that he learned enough to get the company started and had a core understanding of the challenges of creating the product. Even if you don’t end up coding for the rest of the life of your company, you’ll be a better manager with the software development experience under your belt,” she told Women2.com, referring to Kevin.
Now, Adda is the CEO of Skillcrush, a site that hosts online classes for those looking to upgrade their skills.