World’s youngest C++ programmer?

I’m seeing many younger programmers picking up C++. The average age at C++ events over the past year has been declining rapidly as the audience sizes grow with more and younger people in addition to the C++ veterans.

But this one just beats all [Facebook link added]:

A six-year-old child from Bangladesh is hoping to be officially recognised as the world’s youngest computer programmer.

Wasik Farhan-Roopkotha showed an aptitude for computing at an early age and started typing in Microsoft Word at just three years old, BBC News reports.

The precocious youngster was programming game emulators from the age of four and his achievements have already received extensive media coverage in his home country.

He has also gained knowledge of C++, the programming language developed by Danish computer scientist Bjarne Stroustrup, without any formal training.

This kid seems pretty exceptional. Welcome, Wasik! I don’t expect the programs to be very complicated, and I’ll leave aside questions of balancing computer time with real-world time and exercise, but this is still quite an achievement.

How young were you when you wrote your first program? I discovered computers for the first time at age 11 when I switched to a new school that had a PET 2001, and wrote my first BASIC programs when was 11 or 12, first on paper and then a little on the PET when I could get access to it. I still fondly remember when I finally got my own Atari 800 when I was 13… thanks again for the loan for that, mum and dad! the first loan I ever took, and paid off in a year with paper-route money. Having that computer was definitely worth a year of predawn paper delivery in the rain, sleet, and snow.

15 thoughts on “World’s youngest C++ programmer?

  1. So now we can safely say, without any trace of hyperbole, that C++ is so simple that “a child could do it!”

    My first programming was in BASIC on an HP2000C time-sharing system set up for the L.A. Public Schools, circa 1974. Shortly after that I went out and bought my first personal programmable device, an HP25 calculator with 49 keystroke steps. As I was taking high school physics at the time, I set out to improve upon the “Lunar Lander” program that came listed with the device so that it would display impact velocity, and managed to do it within the 49 steps allotted. The REAL fun began when I bought my IMSAI 8080 kit, though! My very own personal computer that could execute ONE MILLION INSTRUCTIONS PER SECOND! After that, life has never been quite the same… ;-)

  2. I remember the BASIC cartridge on the Atari 400. I don’t miss that membrane keyboard. Nor the inability to save my programs; the Atari 800XL with floppy drive was a nice upgrade. But my very first exposure was the Computer Intro! cartridge for the Odyssey2. I must have been 10 or so, and definitely not ready for C++. Good times!

  3. I think I was 7 or 8 when I first get in contact with computers, for gaming. Then my parents got a red keyboard with a tapeplayer and I typed little basic games.

    I remember that there were concepts that I couldn’t get unti later. For example, I did’t understand how to combine tests if( A== K and A == Q ) because what I thought at the time was that if( A == K && Q ) should have been correct. I didnt have anybody knowing about programming or any book about programming around, other than the manual that was in english that I didnt understand at the time.
    Also, I understood dynamic allocation and arrays only while programming complex games on my calculator in high school. It blew my mind with possibilities because I thought for a long time that I was limited to write and read data from only the objects I declared separately (one object by alphabet letter…).

    I remember programming on notebooks for some months because I didnt have access to any computer for a very long time. I am a game dev junkie after all.

    Also, I remember making some games using visual basic with friend. Back then we were not happy because we didnt understand how professional games could get so smooth. One day, online, we discover that pros use C/C++ ( v___v;; ) and that the difference is simply brutal performance. We werent sure if it was a good investisment to spend time learning such a strange language, so to be sure we made a basic test (!!!), a simple loop that would display a tick every 1000 iterations. We first thought that our C/C++ implementation was buggy because it was several order of magnitude faster than our Visual Basic implementation, but after checking and additional tweaking, we were totally amazed by the performance of C/C++… Then we passed the next 9 month making one of the biggest games I’ve ever worked on on my free time.

    Years later, I got several awesome job positions by showing this game. As a self-made developer, it was my main early experience and got me jobs.

  4. I had an old compaq with windows 95 on it and that was my first home computer.
    my first language was C++ when I was 14, haha.

  5. I got a Time 2068, a ZX Spectrum clone, at the age of 10, but started looking into programming around the age of 14.

    My dad got a few books with Z80 assembly, but it was still a bit hard to grasp. Eventually I went to technical school and learned Turbo Pascal, x86 Assembly, Clipper, C and had a started having a look at C++.

    Later in the university I also came in touch with ML, Smalltalk, Prolog and Java, but most assignments were actually done in C.

    As I was very found of compiler development, there were tons of other languages I had access to, thanks to the amount of research papers and books at our disposal from the CS department. One of the findings was discovering that system programming with safe languages is possible, like Ada, Modula-3 and Oberon, even if those attempts never became mainstream.

    Now on my enterprise world I only have access to JVM and .NET languages, while trying to show upper management that it still makes sense to invest in C or C++ based projects.

  6. It’s more difficult for us older guys to strut how young we were when we started. Age 16, in Fortran, on punch cards that I cut myself with a 12-key card punch, to submit to the ICL-4100 at the local technical college (up hill, both ways, in the snow…) — back in the early 70s that was pushing the envelope.

  7. I was about 10 when my parents got me the Creative Computing’s 100 Games in Basic and started entering those in on a Comadore VIC-20. It was about 2 years later that I really began to understand what things were and went beyond any pre-made programs.

  8. I was six or seven when I convinced my dad and my older brother to teach me BASIC, probably in 1973 or ’74. Dad brought home a teletype with an acoustic coupler modem on the weekends, and I signed in as a guest on some IBM timesharing system at his company and managed to write a couple very simplistic games. In 1977, we got a Xitan Z-80 (in kit form), and a more modern BASIC. After a few years, we upgraded the machine to CPM (after adding 40KB of memory and two 8.5″ floppy drives). We got a Pascal compiler (JRT), and I learned Pascal from the reference manual. I think we also had Turbo Pascal a little after that. My brother took the machine to college, and we got an Apple //e to replace it. Back to BASIC, this time Applesoft. In college and my summer internships, I used Pascal on various VAXen. I learned C at my first full-time job, still working on VAXen. I started learning C++ (with a cross-compiler for an embedded system developed on a PC) at my second job, and have been learning it ever since. Recently, I’ve dabbled in Python.

  9. My first taste of programming was when I was between 7 and 9 years old on my uncles Vic-20 using BASIC. Simple games and typing in programs from the manuals that came with it.
    My first production system was an invoicing system for the family business, programmed in Turbo Pascal when I was still in High-school.
    These days I spend my time learning what I can about C++11 and C++Future, while programming on a large code base that dates back to the early 1980s. Large parts of the code are Fortran, C, and C++, but smaller parts are C#, managed C++, Java, TCL, and other scripts. I tend to keep my contributions to C++ and hopefully well thought out and easy to maintain code.

  10. I used a green screen Commodore PET at a local college’s summer program for young children. My first “programming” at home was on an Atari 2600 using the BASIC Programming cartridge (both of those released in 1979, when I was 6), which used a pair of keyboard controllers, I don’t remember which of those two things came first, but I suspect that the first led to the second.

    My first real computer was a TI-99/4A, which came out in 1981, a month before my 8th birthday. I no longer have the computer, but do have the tape drive, because it was a standard cassette player/recorder with a connection cable that attached to the microphone and headphone ports. There was a lot of typing in programs from magazines.

    My next computer was a Commodore 64. As far as I can tell, this was the fall of 1984, when i was 11. This is based on the fact that while we were looking at it, the Plus/4 came out (but we wisely decided to stay with the C64). The Plus/4 came out in 1984, and it was well before the 1541C, which came out in 1986. It was also before hurricane Gloria, which was in 1985.

  11. I was bought a ZX81 by my parents for my tenth birthday – a fantastic machine to learn because it didn’t really have much commercial software (and the tape interface was awful). I hardly ever loaded anything on it, just wrote stuff and saved it (mostly tweaks of computer magazine listings).

    I graduated to a Spectrum a year later, mostly just played games though – although I acquired the fascination with machine language that I still have, and hand-assembled dozens of programs on paper, I’m not sure I ever actually tested anything non-trivial on the real machine.

    Things really took off with the ST, in 1986 at the age of 14 – my first purchase was an assembler and I proper cracked on with it then.

    I think fundamentally it’s very hard to do any real work without a disk drive of some kind, so anyone who really did something practical on a pre-disk machine, well done to you.

  12. 8 on a zx Sinclair spectrum 48k. I still miss that device. It had a mono casette tape to save my programs. Aww man, I wish I still had that thing.

  13. I don’t suppose this young programmer Herb mentions can be hired to work on XP support for VS? ;)

    If anyone happens to find the worlds youngest designer as well, can they suggest MS hire her to replace Monty because his latest VS UI update isn’t winning the war. I think this may be our only hope!

    @serhan, alternatively, I’m with you, lets just go back to using HiSoft’s C compiler for the Zx Spectrum! I still have the tape and the cool red manual!! It uses a lot less ram than VS, and the UI is just as grey!! What visionaries they were! Oh and hello world compiles to well under 48k too!

    Then again, with LLVM gaining Z80 support, we might be able to get clang going on it too! The future is brighter than grey after all!

  14. I started on a TRS-80 at the age of 5. No colour, no sound (without a hack to write to the tape drive to work like a speaker) so I worked on simple text manipulation programs with my dad.
    Got a BBC Micro a couple of years later, and then started 6502 assembly aged 8 (learned 2-complement binary arithmetic doing sums in the sand on the beach in Spain) – this was back in 1982 …

    Stood me in good stead for a career in computing – even if I didn’t learn C++ until I was in my 20s (and handicapped by having learned C first!)

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