Ryan, how did you start programming?

May 10, 2017

I started programming since I was in elementary school. This is My first laptop:

PS: this laptop, aside from the cracked screen, still works!

Early Days

QuickBasic 4.5

This is the first programming language I learned.

Everything started with a great childhood friend of mine introducing me to QuickBasic 4.5 (“QB”), a development tool aimed for beginners created by Microsoft in 1988 (yes, I know, it was already old even back in 2001). With QB, the first program I created was a simple program that clears the screen then display the word “hello” on the screen:

REM my first program CLS PRINT “Hello”;

It was very simple, but I was SUPER excited. I just wrote my first line of code!

I really enjoyed working with QB and making command-line (text-based) applications. I learned more about QB from various books and other programmers.

PS: If you’re running a Windows PC, you can download QuickBasic and run it on your PC. This website has a good tutorial on how to write your program with QuickBasic.

Visual Basic 6

After about a year working with QB, I began wanting to create applications with graphical user interface, not just text-based programs. That’s when I started learning Visual Basic 6. 

I didn’t get much in-person help learning Visual Basic 6. I learned most of my knowledge about Visual Basic 6 from the web, by inspecting code samples from PlanetSourceCode.


As the web started to become more mainstream I started learning PHP (along with HTML Javascript, and CSS). PHP is the first web programming language I learned. How did I learn PHP?

  • By reading its documentation. PHP has written great documentation on their website for every single feature of the language.
  • Whenever I get stuck, I use Google to find the solutions. 99% of the technical issues I was facing were NOT unique – i.e. someone else already experienced it and posted a solution online. All I had to do is find it online. The following section contains my tips on how to use Google to troubleshoot your technical problems, efficiently.s
  • As a last resort, if I can’t find an answer anywhere else, I’d post my issue on online discussion boards (forums) such as StackOverflow, and mailing lists.

Later Days

Since PHP, I’ve learned many different languages and skills following the same process (see above):

  • Networking
  • IT/Server Infrastructure Management
  • jQuery
  • DevOps
  • Ruby (on Rails)
  • NodeJS
  • Java
  • Python
  • and many more!
Ryan Harijanto

Head of Engineering. Former Sr. Engineer @Netflix , @HotelTonight , @Shutterstock. Previously a Senior Systems Engineer at Netflix, currently technology advisor and board member for emerging companies. Diverse technological knowledge and understanding of various industries.

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