256 Reasons to Celebrate Programmer’s Day

Programmer’s Day is celebrated on the 256th day of the year, and this year, it’s on Wednesday, September 13. This number is important in the binary space, the mathematical foundations that computer science is built on. Computer values are stored in bits, and 8 bits form a byte. With all its binary combinations, a single byte can store amounts from 0–255, which results in 256 unique values total.

In honor of this, we’ve come up with a mega-list of 256 reasons to celebrate. They’re packed into 16 categories (2 bytes) of size 16. Finally, in honor of the ‘C’ language, our values are zero-indexed.

Of course, with the long history of programming comes a road filled with many revolutions that have changed the way we live. Here are a number of facts that show the magnitude of its impact on our everyday lives.

0. Programming is a top career field

0. In the U.S., 71% of all new STEM jobs are in computing. 1. There’s no shortage of career bootcamps to upgrade or launch a new career. 2. Programmers have great flexibility in work location and hours – enterprise mobility management makes it possible to work securely from anywhere. 3. Their work ranges from pure code and design to writing (like this article). 4. And includes many environments: startup, big biz, small biz, consultancy, or freelance. 5. The work isn’t limited to an industry – you can quickly transition between finance, media, or healthcare. 6. There’s also no single developer stereotype. 7. Development thrives on passion and connection – and there’s a large community of people to connect with. 8. Emerging tech leads to fascinating questions in other fields, like the impacts of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in moral philosophy. 9. Developers get to solve puzzles all day long. 10. Programming offers a great blend of creativity and technical thinking. 11. Computer science tops Indeed’s list of most popular college majors for salaries. 12. There is no single way to become a professional. You can teach yourself or complete formal training. 13. There are plenty of conferences to attend and continue learning new skills (sign up now for Oktane18!). 14. It's hard to imagine any current company without some technical facet. 15. Programming is exciting challenge and pays well.

1. It’s leading to advances in accessibility, equality, and diversity

0. Programmers are developing new games that use sign language. 1. They also developed JAWS, a tool for computer users with vision loss. 2. Charities like AbleGamers offer custom gaming setups for people with disabilities, so everyone can play. 3. 3D printing – and the CAD technology behind it – is accelerating and may lead to new advancements in prosthetics. 4. Online assessment tools are helping deaf students master mathematics. 5. Other tools are also available to assist students with a range of learning disabilities. 6. Companies like Talent Sonar are working to build technology that can help companies remove bias when hiring. 7. Tools like this color-blindness simulator help creators see what others cannot. 8. Stephen Hawking famously uses a digital device to help him communicate. 9. And there are similar apps, like Talkitt, to help others communicate with their own voice. 10. Or apps that help autistic children communicate. 11. There is even an app that helps volunteers lend their eyes to the blind and apps that bring live closed captioning to audio calls for the deaf. 12. Girls Who Code is empowering young women and building a pipeline of female engineers in the United States. 13. Tools like Emerj help employees find mentors. 14. Some tools, like PeopleFluent, help companies identify where they can diversify. 15. While tools like Accenture’s prototype are working to diversify the freelance market.

2. And advancements in health, science, and technology

0. Programmers have created new AI chatbots to help relieve depression. 1. Wearable robotic suits are helping to promote walking in stroke patients. 2. A computational algorithm can help detect depression through social media posts, offering a new method for early screening of mental health problems. 3. New software is increasing the effectiveness of healthcare tools and processes like hearing aid adjustments. 4. New online portals can estimate wait times for health clinics. 5. Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) are exploring ways for computers to help doctors make better medical decisions. 6. Cloud computing and SaaS models are revolutionizing life sciences. 7. Brain-computer interfaces are being developed to map technology to human motor functions. 8. Innovations are helping to improve public weather services, including warnings. 9. Computer models are helping to advance climate change research. 10. Programmers are helping to build autonomous ocean cleanup technology. 11. New breakthroughs are happening in reinforcement learning for self-teaching AI. 12. CERN has created an open data portal, enabling access to real-world big data sets. 13. Proven computer vision algorithms are being used to analyze changes in urban areas. 14. Adaptive cyber security techniques are being developed to prevent cyber attacks. 15. And companies can set up Privileged Access Management to avoid network security breaches.

3. It was built by visionary pioneers

0. Ada Lovelace was a gifted mathematician who helped develop the first computer program in the mid-1800s. 1. Alan Turing was an enigma codebreaker and visionary mathematician whose work played a vital role for Allied intelligence during WWII. 2. John Backus, an IBM programmer, led the team that developed FORTRAN, a well-known, high-level programming language. 3. Fred Cohen presented one of the first computer viruses as a proof-of-concept in 1983. 4. Margaret Hamilton was an Apollo rocket programmer who pioneered software engineering as we know it today. 5. Steve Wozinak helped shape Silicon Valley computing with his design of Apple I and II. 6. Dennis Ritchie created the C programming language and was the co-developer of Unix. 7. Linus Torvalds is a pioneer in the open-source community, leading the design of Linux. 8. George Boole formalized logic algebra, the basis of the design of computer circuits. 9. Kathleen Booth wrote the first assembly language. 10. Robert Kahn and Vint Cerf developed and “founded” the internet as DARPA programmers. 11. Grace Hopper led the team that created the first computer language compiler. 12. Stephen Cook laid the foundations for formalized NP-completeness theory. 13. Edsger Dijkstra, a computer scientist, led groundbreaking advances in the algorithms and fundamentals of his field. 14. Karen Spärck Jones drove major contributions to understandings of information retrieval. 15. Barbara Grosz created the first model of discourse, establishing a new field of research.

4. The industry is building philanthropic organizations with digital connections

0. With his programming success, Bill Gates and his wife Melinda created a foundation that contributes to a wide range of causes, including enhancing healthcare and reducing poverty. 1. Steve Wozniak is strongly active in his philanthropy efforts. 2. Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan plan to donate 99 percent of their Facebook shares to “advance human potential and promote equality”. 3. Groups like Tech Soup and donate:code allow programmers, developers, and designers to donate time or infrastructure to charities needing some tech help. 4. And there’s no shortage of demand for digital help. 5. That’s why we started Okta for Good and made the 1% pledge dedicated to giving back to our community. 6. New technologies and apps are helping to drive more donations to charities. 7. And allowing them to reach a greater, global audience through non-profit initiatives such as NetHope. 8. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is a leader in defending civil liberties in the digital world. 9. Tech icons like Elon Musk started in programming and are now founding groups to drive change. 10. There are many charity groups driving diversity and inclusivity in programming circles. 11. Companies like GitHub are enabling new developers with giveaways. 12. Ticket sales for some conferences, like hack.summit(), are going towards coding non-profits. 13. Groups like The Turing Trust are working to provide technology and IT training to schools in sub-Saharan Africa. 14. There are many scholarships available for students interested in a computer science degree. 15. There are also many charities for open-source advocates to donate to.

Although important, programming isn’t just about changing the world. It’s often used just so everyone else can have a good time – and not just through a computer. From being portrayed in blockbuster films to developing playful apps, there’s no shortage of ways to have plain, old fun with programming.

5. Programming has resulted in thriving communities...

0. Blog sites like dev.to are actively allowing idea sharing between developers. 1. GitHub created a central repository to share science papers. 2.Developers love to share their amazing sense of humor. 3. Ladies Learning Code is also a not-for-profit organization dedicated to being a resource for women and youth aspiring to be programmers. 4. And challenges like Obfuscated C enable them to build the ridiculous. 5. There are helpful question and answer sites for developers: Stack Overflow sees over 50 million developers each month. 6.Which has led to the entire Stack Exchange network, spanning all disciplines. 7. The open-source model, reliant on its community, is working and lashing out at capital gain. 8. Online games like World of Warcraft have drawn over 5.5 million players together. 9. And those same games can outlive their corporative life, supported by their fanbase. 10. Professional community LinkedIn has over 467 million users. 11. Some communities like Hacker Paradise also help different programmers be productive no matter where they are in the world. 12. YouTube has no shortage of user-driven content, consumed by millions of users. 13. Social media sites like Facebook aren’t disappearing anytime soon, offering everyone the ability to stay constantly connected. 14. Digital communities like Meetup and Couchsurfing encourage the formation of real-world connections and communities. 15. We’ve developed our own Okta DevForum to those of you building programs on the Okta Platform.

6. ...with lots of popular hackathons, challenges, and resources

0. Annual global challenges like Advent of Code connect developers to work on elegant solutions. 1. Topcoder enables competition, collaboration, and learning. 2. Google hosts Code Jam and the Distributed Code Jam World Finals. 3. AngelHack is a female-owned, female-majority company, and one of the world’s largest and most diverse global hacker communities. 4. Meanwhile, the Space Apps Challenge claims the title for the world’s largest hackathon. 5. Sites like code eval allow direct competition against others to win jobs and deals. 6. Even the banking industry (BNP Paribas) hosts a yearly global hackathon. 7. Hackathons can have specific causes, like HackThePlanet’s environmentalism. 8.GlobalHack focuses on events in the community and getting kids excited about programming. 9. Kickstarter is also another popular way for people to get their programming projects funded, like this educational coding kit for children. 10. Some hackathons offer prize money instead of jobs, and you could even make enough to live on. 11. There are plenty of online resources for organizers and attendees. 12. And repositories on GitHub for organizers. 13. attendees. 14. Facebook hosts its own legendary hackathon for employees. 15. Hackathons aren’t just for coders – recruiters frequently attend them too.

7. Easter eggs and fun facts

0. Zen of Python from any Linux terminal. 1. Google released Gmail Blue, the most advanced form of email ever (April Fools!) 2. Enter “zerg rush” or “do a barrel roll” into Google search for computer game nods. 3. Or, if you get a “page unavailable” with a dinosaur, you can click the dinosaur to play a game. 4. Enter the Konami Code to get secret access to some websites. 5. Learn something new about robots by entering ‘about:robots’ into the Firefox address bar. 6. Installing cowsay on Linux enables a cow to speak to you. 7. Or enter ‘apt-get moo’ to meet a cow in the Linux terminal. 8. Or even ‘aptitude moo’ with increasing -v‘ to get more messages. 9. Install cmatrix on Linux to feel like Neo from The Matrix. 10. Spotify had a gift for Rogue One fans, turning the play bar into a lightsaber. 11. You can often find amusing messages in programmer update notes. 12. Installing ‘sl’ on Linux will amusingly remind you of your inability to type ‘sl’ when tired. 13. Send the basketball emoji on Facebook mobile. Just double tap and play the game. 14. You can also play chess. 15. Google searching for “Google in 1998” will automatically take you to the original iteration of search engine.

8. Top languages programmers use on GitHub

0. JavaScript 1. Java 2. Python 3. CSS 4. PHP 5. Ruby 6. C++ 7. C 8. Shell 9. C# 10. Objective-C 11. R 12. VimL 13. Go 14. Perl 15. CoffeeScript

9. Programmers in popular culture

0. Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network 1. The Pied Piper team in Silicon Valley 2. Kate Libby in the cult classic Hackers 3. Elliot Alderson in Mr. Robot 4. Dennis Nedry in Jurassic Park 5. Lisbeth Salander in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo 6. Edward Snowden in Snowden 7. Nicholas Hathaway in Blackhat 8. Penelope Garcia in Criminal Minds 9. Sombra in Overwatch 10. Felicity Smoak in Arrow 11. Thomas Anderson/Neo in The Matrix 12. Cisco Ramon from The Flash 13. Chloe O’Brian in 24 14. Aidan Macallan in House of Cards 15. Dr. Robert Ford in Westworld

10. Groundbreaking tech in gaming, movies, and music

0. The roots of multiplayer started in arcades where you saved your high score. 1. The first computer-based video game, Spacewar!, was invented in 1962 and took a full decade to be adopted across the country. 2. More recently, Overwatch is actively trying innovative ideas to battle gamer toxicity. 3. In 2016, a computing system developed by Google researchers defeated a human player at Go. 4. Developers have even started to integrate facial recognition into games, meaning they can be tailored to a player’s mood. 5. Netflix was founded in 1997, triggering the eventual start of online movie streaming and now has over 100 million subscribers. 6. Netflix open-sourced ChaosMonkey in 2012 and later started Zuul in 2013, both of which are tools designed to test and manage its online resiliency. 7. Netflix also successfully started blocking VPN access. 8. The 2016 sci-fi video game No Man’s Sky utilizes procedural generation to create different locations that players can visit – which amount to more than 18 million worlds. 9. In 1993, the first internet radio program was released. 10. That laid the groundwork for streaming services like Spotify and hit 10 million global subscribers in 2014. 11. Toy Story, released in 1995, was the first feature-length computer animated film. 12. Musician-programmers are changing the way music is made. 13. And creating new programming languages like Alda... 14. ...and Jukedeck.

Special effects companies like Industrial Light and Magic have been pushing the limits of computer-generated effects for more than 30 years.

11. The work of programmers has resulted in an endless number of online education resources

0. TED 1. Project Gutenberg 2. Duolingo 3. Udemy 4. Kahn Academy 5. Instructables 6. Codecademy 7. Code.org 8. freeCodeCamp 9. Lynda 10. Memrise 11. Snapguide 12. Pianu 13. MindTools 14. Pluralsight 15. And you easily create courses for others with Google’s Open Online Education.

12. Some programmers out there even make their own sets of jargon and in-jokes:

0. Hindenbug is a catastrophic bug that can wipe all your data. 1. Unicorny describes a feature so early in its development stage, it might as well not exist. 2. The word banana can be used as placeholder text for incomplete documentation. 3. Jimmy is another name for someone new or clueless to developing, hence why some codes are made “Jimmy-proof”. 4. Baklava describes a code that has too many layers to it, just like the delicious pastry it’s named after. 5. Hydra code is an error that cannot be fixed because it always introduces another one. 6. A Loch Ness Bug is a coding problem that only one programmer notices but everyone else cannot seem to find or reproduce. 7. Jenga code cannot be altered, otherwise it will collapse everything else connected to it. 8. Yoda conditions describes code that is written in reverse for some unknown reason. 9. A “smug report” is just a bug report submitted by programmer who thinks they know what the problem is but actually doesn’t. 10. Rubber ducking is another name for a conversation between two programming engineers trying solve a problem. 11. A “reality 101 failure” describes making a program to fix a bug that actually didn’t exist, therefore rendering it useless. 12. A Heisenbug, much like quantum mechanics principle it’s derived from, is a bug that keeps changing or vanishing every time you observe it. 13. Higgs Bugson describes a hypothetical bug that can exist given certain conditions, but that’s difficult to reproduce. 14. A Common Law Feature describes a bug that has existed so long, it might as well be considered to be part of the code. 15. Protoduction describes a program prototype being prepped for production.

Programming’s history has not ended – its road is still being paved today and into the future. Here’s a brief glimpse of what’s in store.

13. Programming has come a long way:

0. In 1963, Ivan Sutherland developed one of the first computer-aided design programs, reducing the need for hand-drawn design. 1. In 1964, IBM introduced SABRE, an airline ticket reservation system. 2. In 1971, Ted Hoff invented the first general-use single-chip computer (microprocessor). 3. On August 12, 1981 IBM introduced their first personal computer. 4. The world wide web was invented in 1989, and was introduced to the public in 1991, starting the connectivity revolution. 5. In 1997, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) agreed to make Wi-Fi a worldwide standard for internet. 6. Wikipedia was founded in 2001, as a new type of encyclopedia. 7. In 2001, Bram Cohen developed the controversial file-sharing tool, BitTorrent. 8. Apple introduced their smartphone – the iPhone – in 2007. 9. Amazon launched the Kindle e-book reader in 2007, bringing books into the digital space. 10. In 2008, Bitcoin exploded in the tech sphere, as the first decentralized and non-tangible currency. 11. In 2014, the game EVE Online had a massive, virtual war that caused extensive real-world loss, valued at approximately $300,000. 12. As of 2015, a human brain's capabilities are estimated to be only 30 times faster than the best supercomputer. 13. Today, tech and programming is driving job market growth in areas like Silicon Valley. 14. Games are testing children’s knowledge and teaching them about earth day. 15. And world leaders are learning how to code.

14. We currently have unprecedented connectivity

0. In 2017, nearly 4 billion people use the internet worldwide. 1. Open Whisper Systems make private communication simple and accessible. 2. VPNs are key for gaining access to western content from censored countries like China. 3. And VPNs help maintain private and secure browsing. 4. Data security online is more important than ever. 5. Chat applications and cloud delivery tools allow anyone to work from anywhere. 6. Slack and Zoom took the communication world by storm, and have helped change the way people and organizations work together. 7. Google translate is able to bridge the language barrier in real time. 8. Efforts are being made to ensure developing countries are not left behind. 9. News aggregation sites like Reddit are delivering global news faster than ever before. 10. And bring people together in unprecedented ways. 11. Hardware like the Tile can crowd-source finding a lost item using digital apps. 12. Online shopping allows anyone to buy necessities or desires from anywhere. 13. SpaceX has a live webcast of every launch, allowing everyone to take part in history. 14. You can even stream live concerts. 15. Advertising has gone beyond televisions and newspapers directly into consumers pockets.

15. Where can programming take us in the future?

0. New software may be able to help predict your partner's emotional state. 1. Robots may one day be able to teach each other how to operate. 2. Soon, AI will play a larger, more integral part of our daily living beyond our computer screens. 3. This may include having fully autonomous self-driving cars. 4. AI techniques could also help predict the signs of dementia before onset. 5. We could even help amputees regain lost sensations and reflexes through AI-powered prosthetic limbs. 6. We could finally make contact with alien life. 7. Programmers can help solve energy crises through ways such as AI that helps determine safer and more efficient batteries. 8. Global education levels will continue to rise with open access to learning materials. 9. Data will be more valuable than gold (or oil). 10. People may be able to implant devices in their brain to directly interface with software. 11. Continued partnerships will open doors for women interested in coding and help close the gender gap in technology. 12. SpaceX is also planning to expand our internet connections into space through a vast network of satellites. 13. There could be no reason for us to leave the house, with everything delivered by drone. 14. Newer and more sophisticated methods of data security are also being explored by various companies and governments, particularly in the field of biometrics. 15. APIs have become more valuable assets for creating and streamlining new business models.

There we have it – 256 reasons to celebrate.

From everyone at Okta, we want to thank you for all of your contributions and wish you a happy Programmers Day!