This site is a preview of the curriculum for our Summer 2018 bootcamp in Burlington, Vermont. As we continue our preparation, courses and lessons will appear and disappear; we will rename, rearrange, clarify, and obfuscate as needed... Please consider this a work in progress and keep checking in.

 Learn to Code with JavaScript:


What is a computer?

  • A calculating machine
    • desktop
    • laptop
    • cell phone
    • smart phone
    • thermostat
    • credit card
    • hotel room door

The Terminal

  • the TERMINAL is a window into which you can talk directly to your computer Shall we play a game?

from WarGames, (1983)

In The Beginning Was The Command Line

  • the TERMINAL is a window into which you can talk directly to your computer
  • aka console or command line or command prompt or shell or prompt

    • contrast CLI (Command Line Interface) to GUI (Graphical User Interface)
  • "In The Beginning Was The Command Line" is an essay by Neil Stephenson describing the history of computers in an enjoyable and clever way

node - the Interactive JavaScript Executor

Exercise: Calculator

  • open a terminal
  • type node
  • press the return key (also called enter)
  • see the > prompt
  • type 1 + 1
  • press the return key again
  • see the 2
  • Yay! Your computer is an expensive calculator!

  • Bonus: what other math can you do?

  • From now on, whenever you see text in the code font, try typing it into node and see what happens!

Computer Anatomy

  • hardware
    • CPU
    • Memory
    • Storage
    • Input/Output Devices (monitor, keyboard, etc.)
  • software
    • Operating System
    • Drivers
    • Programs
  • wetware
    • that's you!

Computer Anatomy: Hardware

  • CPU ("the brain")
  • Memory
  • Input/Output
    • keyboard, mouse, touch screen, monitor

Von Neumann Architecture

The basic architecture of computers has not changed since the invention of the Von Neumann Architecture in the 1940s.

Computer Anatomy: Software

  • Operating System
  • Libraries
  • Drivers
  • Applications
  • Languages

Every piece of software on your computer is a PROGRAM.

A Program Is Like A Recipe

  • a recipe is a collection of ingredients and instructions

Grandma's Cookie Recipe

  • a program is a collection of data and code

When you are writing code, you are not baking cookies, you are writing a recipe for how to make cookies.

(recipe from


  • every program is written in a LANGUAGE
    • like Java or Python or C or Fortran
    • even HTML and CSS and SQL are languages
    • every computer language has a silly name
  • different languages are useful in different areas, but there is a lot of overlap
  • today we will learn the JavaScript programming language

Errors Are Awesome

  • Don't be afraid of errors
  • Your computer is trying to help you fix your program
    • It's just really bad at communicating

If your code is a two-year-old child, then an error is a temper tantrum.

(It can take effort to figure out why they're upset and fix it.)

  • It's not all gibberish
  • Try to read it -- really try! -- and pull out the pearls from the pig slop

See also: What went wrong? from MDN



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