Am I Too Old to Learn Programming?

Learning to code is much like learning to play a musical instrument. Yes, it does take hours and hours of concerted practice. But even if you don’t do it professionally, it’s still fun and enriching. It helps to be Mozart and start at the age of five with a pushy composer father, but it is far from necessary. By the time you reach my level of experience and knowledge, you will realize how silly the “am I too old?” question is.

No, you are not too old to learn programming.

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14 comments on this post.
  1. Jason:

    I actually just found this website after doing a search for ‘recursive fill’ in Python and finding your article on the subject, which was outstanding by the way. I wanted to thank you for this post though. I’m 33yo and back in school for the second time. I decided that I wanted a new challenge and career, and since I have a decent aptitude for technical subjects and an obsession for all things computerized, I figured what better than a degree in computer science. Unfortunately though, I’ve been feeling especially discouraged lately as it’s been a real struggle for me to keep up in class and with these 18yo kids who probably already have a decade of experience under their belts. It’s certainly not easy, and overwhelming would be an understatement at times, but I really do enjoy muddling my way through these trivial little programs that we code for class. Anyways, I just wanted to say that I appreciate your encouragement as it’s very easy to get down on myself when I’m struggling.

    Cheers, Jason

  2. tessiof:

    I’m learning python at Coursera’s “An Introduction to Interactive Programming in Python”, and while searching for python and game development I came across your books. Anyway..
    I just want to ask if you are planing to make a third book about 3D games in the future. Are you?

    Reply from Al: Hey Tessiof, after the cryptography book I’m currently working on, I plan on doing a book for Java or Scratch, and perhaps making a MMO 2D Zelda-clone. I don’t have any plans to do 3D. I have played around with Ogre, which seems to be pretty good for doing 3D with Python.

  3. tessiof:

    Thanks a lot! I will have a look at Ogre3d.
    And let me say that a MMO 2D Zelda-clone sounds awesome!

  4. David:

    I am 57 years old and learning Python to finally implement some programming ideas that have been hanging in my head for years. I was curious if you might try writing a book on Python and the 3d graphics program Blender (which I am learning, as well).

  5. Peggy:

    Hi, Al.

    47-yr-old here. Just ordered “Invent Your Own” from amazon & printed the first 50 pp from the pdf file to get a headstart.

    Thanks for your efforts! I will keep you posted on my progress.

  6. abeen:

    43 year old. Inspiring comments make me start again.

  7. Chris Kavanagh:

    Nice article. I took up Programming at the age of 41 (last year) just because I wanted to learn. I’ve learned several languages, although I’m not an expert in any of them. I consider Python my favorite, and also the one I’m the best at. Your book helped me tremendously learning Python, so I thank you!

    I’d love to see you do a book (Python) that focuses on small programs/projects that do a little something useful. I can’t think of any examples, and that’s exactly why I want you to write it, lol! Say a little program that writes data to files, for instance. Just something simple and slightly useful, written in Python. Games are great, I love ‘em, but I’m not interested in making them. . .Thanks again for the help and the book!

  8. Iain Michie:

    Nice. I fully support anything that can be done to crush the notion that learning requires anything other than effort. Love your blog. Such a great matter of fact, supportive site. I keep finding links to it all over the place so that has to be good.

  9. Chuck:

    40 years old here. I originally began looking into Python to build tools to help me with my work. I found the traditional learning path/process VERY dry and had a difficult time absorbing the material. Your books, tutorials, code examples and blog have been an inspiration. I’ve moved beyond string manipulation and utilities for work and into more enjoyable subjects. In addition, my son is a CS student in college and we’ve found another topic to bond over. I can’t thank you enough, your efforts have helped me professionally and personally.

    With respect,


  10. Felipe:

    Really good post!
    I’m 20 years old and I really felt like being too old to learn programming.

  11. Rob MacLean:

    Hi Al,

    I’m a recovering 17 year-old. Calendrically speaking, I’m 54! My body tells me age is not just an attitude, but my mind says otherwise. I appreciate your efforts. It’s really fun, and that’s important for learning anything.

    Thanks, Rob.

  12. Sarajevo:

    Dude, I’m 29 and I am starting to learn..I can’t find words to thank you for this blog. Thank you!

    GOD bless you!

  13. amanda:

    I’m 48, and took a Pascal classes ages ago as a (liberal arts) undergraduate. I’ve been thinking about making some games with Python, but was worried that I was just too old… So, Thank You! for your blog :-))

  14. Tina:

    I’m too old to get a job as a programmer, so I thought there was no point in learning programming. I’m 56, female, and a bit math phobic. I’ve been interested in programming since before I knew what it actually was. I’ve never gotten past anything but the most rudimentary equations in beginning algebra despite remedial college courses, but when I learned that I could still learn to write code despite my limited algebra, I decided to try Python. I’m fully aware that a 56 year old woman cannot break into a young, male-dominated field. There may be one or two very talented exceptions to this rule, but this would be rare. I’ve decided to learn Python for my own benefit. I’ve been taking a free Udacity course online for programming and so far, I haven’t reached any math stumbling blocks.

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