Memory intensive Software and Expensive Hardware



When I started programming, I used a defective Power Book G4 to build websites. I would launch BBEdit, and fly through the HTML and CSS. I ran MAMP in the background to interpret the PHP parts of the script. For less than a $100 in investment, I was able to make a living.

Today, the beginning programmers starting their career are encouraged to get a hefty MacBook Pro. This sets them back between $1,299 &ndash $1,999. Even though websites still use HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, the tools to develop them have changed. Creating a new website means creating a new docker image with yarn, npm and jetpack. Good luck trying to install all those in one run.

If this was my barrier of entry, I'd stay in school and become an electrical engineer and make my family proud. But in 2020, if a new programmer got an under $200 computer, could they even program?

The short answer is no. The tools people use to create websites require a lot of processing power and RAM to be usable. Try running docker on a cheap machine, or even npm install. The code will freeze for a good moment before you can get anything done. You won't be running npm, jetpack, yarn and whatever it is they teach in programming boot camp. In the Olden days of 2009, MAMP was enough to run a website on my 512MB RAM machine.

There are more tutorials than ever on the web, lowering the bar of entry for programmers. But the bar has been raised when it comes to hardware and tooling. I find myself lucky. There is no room for a poor person to learn programming any longer.