Video Games Were What Hooked Meta’s CTO Andrew Bosworth On Tech. And Why Would He Choose the Power of Flight Over Invisibility.
Multiplayer games “really gave me the feeling of being socially connected when I was otherwise on my own at home”
My sense is that many people in our industry are fundamentally shaped by what tech meant for them as kids. Projecting from my own personal history? Sure. But it does lead me to ask peers about how they first encountered, and committed to, software. As a longtime Facebook engineering leader and now Meta’s new CTO, Andrew Bosworth has been at the center of many decisions Facebook/Meta made in the last decade, so I decided to ask him Five Questions.
Hunter Walk: For me, two formative moments with technology occurred pre-adulthood: Print Shop on the Mac and Alt.Net newsgroups. The combo convinced me that software was for creativity and community — 100% impacted the rest of my life. Do you have any “AHA!” memories of your own with regards to tech?
Andrew Bosworth: In two words: video games.
My parents got an Apple IIe when I was around 5 and a game called Rocky’s Boots which entailed chaining together logic gates to solve puzzles. The discovery of logic gates really changed the way I thought beyond just the game which is pretty profound for a five year old. I also liked Sticky Bears and Lode Runner.
In middle school we got a DOS PC and a friend from 4-H came over and introduced me to QBasic programming and we built a basic program where you could use the arrow keys to change the color of the cursor. It felt like magic. From there I could see how all the games I liked (Sim City in particular) were really engineering problems at different levels of scale.
Then in high school I started playing multiplayer games with my friends (Descent 2, mostly) which initially meant dragging them around and physically wiring them together and then eventually dialing in to each other’s modems directly. Combined with occasional prodigy usenet experience (I recall a few Star Trek MUDs) it really gave me the feeling of being socially connected when I was otherwise on my own at home. I was a very social kid (constantly on email/AIM or corded phone) who lived on ranch without many friends in walking distance so this was meaningful.