It doesn't take much to get started coding! A reliable internet connection and a personal computer is all you need. This article gives some price point and hardware guidance for getting started.
Take Advantage of Institutional Benefits
You may not need to buy a computer at all. If you are a student, you may be able to build a portfolio with school equipment. Your local library might provide an affordable option. If you are currently employed, your employer might have education or training budget. If you are unemployed, you may have a local workforce training program that can help.
Recommended Operating Systems
Apple and Windows are both recommended. Other options like Linux and ChromeOS may work for users that are already familiar, but these are not recommended for most users and you may run into difficulty with tools like Chrome, VS Code, certain VS Code extensions, and various common libraries involved in the React ecosystem, which is important in Ladderly's open source curriculum.
For MacOS, we recommend using Apple Silicon. Intel chips are rapidly becoming outdated and support is being dropped in the latest versions of many programming libraries. To demonstrate skills that employers are looking for and provide a competitive portfolio, we recommend using the latest stable version of each library in your project.
Windows 10 and 11 are both suitable at the time of writing for Windows machines. In October of 2025 there is a scheduled end of security updates for Windows 10, so we do not recommend using Windows 10 after Q2, or the end of June, in 2025.
A used Apple M1 machine can currently be found for around $600 USD. This video describes two recommended Windows machines from Acer and Asus which are under $500 USD. If you are on a tight budget, a Chromebook for around $200 may be your best option, although it will limit transfer learning to the workplace and restrict certain local development abilities.