Code.org is a non-profit organization in the education sector with a mission to get students to learn how to code. Their first Hour of Code campaign, which took place during Computer Science Education Week in December 2013, was a breakaway success. The event encouraged teachers and students to spend just one hour learning how to code. According to code.org statistics, over 15 million people in 170 countries participated in the event and collectively wrote over 500 million lines of code.
The man behind the movement
So who is behind this movement that is affecting schools all over the world? Code.org was founded by Hadi Partovi and his brother Ali. They were born and raised in Iran, then immigrated to the United States. Hadi studied computer science at Harvard University then went on to work at Microsoft, starting in 1994.
Not only is Hadi a talented computer scientist, he is also an entrepreneur. He was one of the founders of Tellme and iLike, among other ventures, and sold them to Microsoft for millions. He became an angel investor and startup advisor for companies including Facebook and Dropbox.
At 38, Hadi retired from Microsoft. He decided it was time to act on a new idea.
“Technology is literally taking over our world, and yet there is only a small percentage of people that has the skills to create the technologies that we’re all consuming,” said Hadi. He and his brother got their first computer, a Commodore 64, at age 10 in Iran. They taught themselves to write simple computer games.
“If we got more students to learn programming and how to code, first of all, all of our children would be better prepared for the 21st century,” said Hadi. “Every career that you can think of in the modern day world should have some background of [computer science].”
Filling an education gap
He started by producing a Youtube video featuring celebrities like Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and basketball player Chris Bosh. The video struck a nerve and went viral, sparking the movement that led to the success of the Hour of Code.
Hadi’s new mission is to bring computer science classes to every school in the USA. He believes that anyone can learn the basics of computer science, and that is should be a crucial part of the modern education system.
“There’s no other skill that helps amplify the creativity of the human mind the way computer programming does.”