The Tech Academy’s Interview With Guido Van Rossum

The Tech Academy’s Interview With Guido Van Rossum

Jack Stanley (the Co-Founder of The Tech Academy) had the opportunity to interview the creator of Python, Mr. Guido van Rossum. Here it is!

Jack Stanley: Prior to creating the language Python, what was your experience in I.T.?

Mr. van Rossum: Let’s see, I started programming as a student in 1974, and in 1977 I started working 20 hours/week at the operating systems group of the organization that ran the mainframe for my university. In 1982 I graduated and got a full-time job as a programmer at the premier Dutch computer science research institute. I created Python in 1990. So, depending on how you count, that’s 13 or 16 years…

Jack Stanley: Why did you create Python?

Mr. van Rossum: Because I was deeply dissatisfied with existing languages at the time, whether C or Perl.

Jack Stanley: What do you consider the best approach to learning how to code is, for a beginner? For an experienced developer?

Mr. van Rossum: The best way to learn how to code as a beginner is probably to be working closely with a more experienced coder who likes to teach. For experienced developers the best way to make progress is probably to attempt to build something that’s more complex than what you’ve ever built.

Jack Stanley: What “soft skills” do you consider are the most important for a developer to have?

Mr. van Rossum: What can most make or break a project is knowing the users. My own skill is knowing developers (because I’ve been one since I was 18), so it makes sense that I work on tools for developers (a language; I’ve also written 2 code review systems and numerous code libraries). Other developers or teams of developers may be better at knowing what end users (of a particular application) need.

Jack Stanley: What was your “secret to success”? What are your successful actions in life?

Mr. van Rossum: Trick question! There is no secret to success. “History is written by the victors.” I think my two most effective techniques have been patience (I tried or collaborated on many things that failed, but always learned from the mistakes) and understanding how programmers think.

Jack Stanley: What type of person would you recommend go to a code school (such as The Tech Academy)?

Mr. van Rossum: Someone who’s really motivated to learn everything they can quickly. You’ve got to spend all your time learning and coding – you learn best by doing, so the more you do, the more you learn. (Again, as long as you pay *some* attention to the Computer Science stuff.)

Jack Stanley: Do you have any plans to create another language beyond Python?

Mr. van Rossum: No, but I expect I’ll be evolving Python for many years to come. I’m also still learning new things by doing this!

Jack Stanley: Can you tell us about a time you saw that your work had greatly helped an individual or group?

Mr. van Rossum: Every year at PyCon I meet people who say they have got a job because of Python. I believe that I have helped the tech world ahead by promoting not just an elegant but pragmatic approach to programming, but also by promoting open source.

Jack Stanley:  Thanks for doing this!

Mr. van Rossum: You’re welcome! Good luck with The Tech Academy!  Hopefully you will be able to make it (to PyCon). There are many great ways to learn at PyCon, *and* many great ways to promote your own business and to do good for others. Till then!

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