Coding will be a part of our future. It already provides the technology for smart cities, for electricity, for all alternative forms of energy; computers with code are installed in every car; Every smartphone has code, and factories are increasingly powered by code-driven technology and robots. The list could go on and on.
Coding has become so significant to our future that it is taught at the elementary school level now. And as students’ progress through STEM studies during their schooling, opportunities for coding take on real-world problem-solving activities, even including virtual robotics programming. Coding and programming are no longer a playground of “nerds.” Ask any teen who has aspirations to develop the next most popular game.
While non-techies of older generations may still see coding and programming as beyond comprehension, they may, nevertheless, find these cool facts interesting:
11 Little-Known Facts
- The term “computer bug” means any issue that affects the performance of a computer program. “Bugs” are usually errors in programming that have to be fixed. If they are not discovered and fixed in time, there can be disastrous consequences. In 2014, during the Gulf War, the Patriot Missile Defense System failed to detect and destroy an Iraqi scud missile. It resulted in the death of 28 U.S. soldiers and injured many more. The reason was a bug in the radar and tracking software of the Patriot system.
But the origin of the term “bug” is interesting. In 1947, an Admiral in the U.S. Navy had an issue with the performance of her Mark II computer. Once she investigated, she discovered that a moth had gotten into a relay – an actual bug. From that point on, the term “bug” came to refer to coding errors that affected the performance of programs.
- It’s stated that, in the future, knowing how to code will be of the same importance as writing. And actually, it’s a lot easier than writing. Students who struggle with writing often turn to the online resources for writing and editing help. Students who struggle with a coding issue can usually find help from peers within the classroom. And the “fix” is usually a lot simpler than editing an essay.
- A woman by the name of Ada Lovelace was the first programmer. She was the daughter of the poet Lord Byron. Ada worked with a male peer on an analytical engine in the 1800’s. Her mathematical background put her in contact with another mathematician, Charles Babbage, and they worked together on the engine. She realized that machines could do more than just perform calculations and wrote the first programming algorithm.
- The first computer virus was not created to bring harm. But sort of like some science fiction films where a computer goes haywire, that is sort of what happened here. A programmer by the name of Fred Cohen wanted to prove that anti-virus software was valuable. So, he created a virus that infected and seized up a computer. He then made copies of that virus and spread it to other computers to show how it could occur. The virus was officially launched, and “bad guys” quickly seized upon the basics of hacking.
- NASA still operates on computer programming it developed in the 1970s. Why? Because it works. And it would be overwhelmingly expensive to do so. The next time you see a picture or a video of the Space Shuttle, just know that there is less code operating it than in a smartphone.
- There’s big money to be had in coding. And by big money, we mean billions, not just the $100,000 or so – that is the average salary of data scientists. Markus Persson, a Swedish programmer, created and launched the computer game Minecraft in 2009. By 2014, it had gone so viral that Microsoft bought it for $2.5 billion. And here’s another interesting fact. Steve Jobs and his partner Steve Wozniak had their career starts by creating a computer arcade game called “Breakout.” And remember the game Angry Birds that went viral a few years ago? That creator is a multi-millionaire.
- Computers operate on what is called a “binary code.” All of the software that runs them is written using only 0’s and 1’s, and there are infinite combinations of these two digits. That’s why new software can be written all the time.
- As of the end of 2020, 70% of coding jobs are in career fields not connected with technology. Those who learn to code early and well will have a choice of many careers in almost every sector of the economy.
- The first programming language, Fortran, was developed in the ’50s. The name is an acronym for the term “Formula Translation”, and it was developed by a team led by John Backus, a computer scientist. Interestingly, Backus was not a good student until he was drafted by the Army during World War II. The Army then sent him to medical school, but he veered from that training as he developed a passion for computer programming.
- Learning to code has some definite cognitive benefits – creative problem-solving, critical thinking, and developing teamwork skills. Studies from MIT support the claim that learning to program can “boost” brain power.
What’s the Point?
Many will say that these cool facts are interesting, but “why should I care?” Here are a few points to consider:
- We humans have a natural tendency toward curiosity. While coding and programming may not be in your area of interest, knowing these facts can bring about an appreciation for the critical importance of coding and programming for your everyday life.
- If you are a parent or grandparent, you want your children to be successful in their lives and their careers. Coding is going to be a part of their futures, no matter what field they choose to enter. If you can stimulate interest by revealing some of these cool facts, all the better.
- As we move toward alternative energy solutions all over the globe, it is essential to understand that coding and programming are the “powers” behind solar, wind, and hydro-electric initiatives. If these facts help you to get it and appreciate what programmers do to improve our planet, we have made a pint with you.
- Without coding and programming, you would not have all of the conveniences you have today – a computer, a smartphone, online shopping, and such. Knowing some of these facts will help you appreciate the skills.
- For students, nothing can be more important than developing an interest in coding. If one or more of these facts has increased your interest, we have achieved our goal.
Marques Coleman is a researcher and writer at Subjecto.com. In his “other” life, he subjects friends to his gourmet cooking experiments and is a supporter and volunteer for animal rescue organizations.