Deep Dive


What is Coding?

By Joseph Eaton
Last Updated May 20, 2021

As a society, we depend on technology and automated processes. We’ve gone from simple computers the size of entire rooms to sophisticated microchips and technology that fits in your pocket. In the last few decades, we’ve seen the tech industry explode and its potential only continues to grow. But what exactly is coding? And how is coding used today? We’re diving into the roots of coding, the jobs that rely on coding to create the world we live in today, and how to learn coding either on your own or at a coding bootcamp.

A Brief History of Coding

While the origins of computer programming may be disputed based on personal definitions of what a computer actually is, it’s generally agreed that the first programmer was a woman named Ada Lovelace who wrote the first algorithm for a computer in the mid-1800s. Ever wonder where all-women bootcamp Ada Developer’s Academy got its name? Now you know!

Early advances in technology and use of binary code allowed engineers to use machines to perform functions that would be considered basic by today’s standards. These machines were incredibly large compared to their modern day counterparts, and they were much less sophisticated. While it may seem primitive looking back, this simple programming marked an important turning point in our history.

How Has Coding Evolved?

The rise of this new technology has opened the door for new advancements. Coding played a large role during WWII – the Germans used code to encrypt messages with an enigma device. Alan Turing, a pioneer for computer science, was able to break that code and later created his own more advanced device for computing. 

After Turing used binary to expand what a single device was capable of doing, researchers discovered the ability to use electricity to store information. This allowed them to expand further and develop more complex tools for the jobs they wanted to do.

Early coding languages (that we still use today!) were first employed in the late 1950s, and the rise of these programming languages lit the fuse for the tech boom that’s still burning today. The 1970s saw the rise of C programming, which created a foundation that many languages drew inspiration from. Some of these derivative languages, including Python, Ruby, and JavaScript, have become popular industry standards.

What is Coding and How Does it Work?

There are many different coding languages, but all of them aim to communicate with a computer. When we communicate using programming languages, the computer translates words into binary before it acts. You may have seen references to binary code in popular media as “a series of ones and zeros.” It may be confusing to understand how this can translate to complex sentences and concepts, but you’re probably already somewhat familiar with how it works. 

If you’ve ever heard of a telegraph, you’ve also probably heard of morse code. Morse code uses a standard set of patterns with dots representing a short beep and dashes representing a long beep. There are only ever two possibilities for the type of signal you will need to interpret. When an operator receives or sends a message, they use two simple figures to express complex concepts.

It’s important to note that humans communicate using many different languages, and programming languages are no exception. The alphabet can be used to form words in many different languages, and sometimes the same spelling of a word can have completely different meanings for different languages. In binary, you’re even more limited since you only have two symbols. This means you’re naturally going to end up with the same phrase potentially having many different meanings across languages.

Programming involves using coding languages to give instructions to a computer. Translating information to binary is useless if a machine can’t act and respond based on the information it’s given. Programming combines binary language with a form of math that’s also binary called Boolean Logic. Boolean Logic allows a computer to follow a command with responses based on a series of true/false statements. 

Different languages are used for different jobs, and some are far more complex than others. For example, querying languages like SQL are used to navigate databases, and there are different versions of it similar to a dialect. Programmers often know more than one type of language, and the range of jobs they can perform is enormous.

What is Coding Used For?

Our world is largely run by automated processes and we interact with technology on a daily basis. Businesses use websites to spread brand awareness, and investing firms use machine learning to predict trends. From developing new medicines to managing large financial institutions to designing your favorite app, programmers affect our daily lives in ways we never think about.

5 Coding Jobs:

These jobs are all broad fields with tons of applications individually. When you put them under the umbrella of coding, you’re looking at one of the foundations of our modern society!

Coding Languages

When it comes to coding, there are a few top programming languages that people prefer. To a programmer, a website is split between two parts. The front end includes everything that users see, hear, and interact with. The back end includes the server, the application, and the database that stores information for the website. Full stack developers handle both sides of a website.

Common Front End Languages:

  • HTML
  • CSS
  • JavaScript

Common Back End Languages:

  • Ruby
  • PHP
  • Python
  • Java

Best programming languages infographic

Where Can I Learn Coding?

If you’re interested in learning to code, you’re probably wondering what the best programming languages to learn might be. If you’re interested in learning how to write code, there are plenty of resources that teach coding for beginners.

Figuring out how to learn coding by yourself can be an intimidating process. Many people looking for a coding school get overwhelmed by the amount of choices they have, including the increasingly popular option to take online coding courses. Whatever your choice, there are plenty of coding programs out there, so don’t be afraid to try one!

About The Author

Joseph Eaton is a freelance writer and photographer who enjoys taking pictures of outdoor action sports and writing about tech. He was born and raised in North Carolina where he currently lives.

Not sure what you're looking for?

We'll match you!

related posts


Guide


Getting Hired After Lighthouse Labs

What to expect from Lighthouse Labs' Career Services!

Alumni Spotlight


What's it like to work in cybersecurity?

A Springboard grad gives us a behind-the-scenes look at an IT Security Specialist role!

Alumni Spotlight


From Dentist to Web Developer

How Beth made a career change into tech after CodeOp...