Mitchell Hashimoto on How He Learned to Code and the Tao of HashiCorp

Feb 06, 2019

As part of his Open Source Summit keynote on The Tao of HashiCorp, co-founder Mitchell Hashimoto tells the story of how he learned to code, thanks in large part to open source.


  • Mitchell Hashimoto

    Mitchell Hashimoto

    Founder & Co-CTO, HashiCorp

» How Mitchell learned to code

"As many of you here know, my life currently is heavily involved with open source, but maybe lesser-known is that I was really only able to start getting involved and learning to code because of open source.

I started to learn to code around 11 or 12 years old. We had one dial-up line and I was not allowed to connect to the internet during the day, because my dad needed that line. So I really only had two ways to learn to code.

One way is super-not-open-source at all: My dad would drop me off at Borders bookstore—which I think is now out of business—but I would run to the corner where the computer books were. I would crack open the book to not crease it, because I couldn't afford to buy the book, and read and read. I would read the same five pages over and over because I had to memorize them—because I couldn't take this book home—and then I would run home and then try to apply what I learned. And I would repeat that weekly.

And then the other thing was when I discovered that open source existed—and Github doesn't even exist—Google was relatively new, so I tried all these different search engines but I eventually found out people uploaded tarballs of code, and so I would download a bunch of tarballs at night, and then during the day when I couldn't dial up I would just read the source code and learn how to apply these abstract concepts.

Books are really great at abstract concepts. Open source is really great at applying those concepts and showing me how it could work. So that's how I really got started. And so it's very fitting and I'm very happy that I'm able to build my career around open source software.

Around eight years ago I started a project called Vagrant. … It wasn't my first open-source project—there were many before that, that no one knows or cares about, but Vagrant ended up being something a little bit more special, becoming a lot more popular than I could have imagined.

But it also taught me a lot about community: the non-coding side of open-source. I had to learn about the challenges of building a community, the challenges of bringing on contributors, governance—those sorts of things. And the success of Vagrant and and getting into DevOps is also what led me to found HashiCorp."

Read more about The Tao of HashiCorp.

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