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And it all started there, and I'm still going today. So I owe it all to my dad, because without him being a big kid and loving gaming, I wouldn't have got the chance. My dad just turned 66, and for his birthday this year I bought him a new game for his XBox that he wanted. Only the body grows old. Ira Rainey. I was in my 30s, and had only ever tried programming a little on my Atari computer, and a little on an HP computer.

I worked as an analog engineering technician, and had no interest in digital circuits or code. One day, a software engineer I worked with questioned me about not knowing how to use a computer timeframe. His comments still ring in my ear: "In the next 10 years, if you don't learn how to use a computer, you will be left behind! We had just aquired a company that used a local area network, and had a bunch of old computers, so he told me to go home with one, and learn DOS.

That's what started my computer fascination to this day! I learned DOS, and then Windows, and eventually began learning programming, and got the bug. Thank you Ray Russell, wherever you are I'm another one that got started on a TRS I remember my mom typing in code from magazines. She would tell us she couldn't run it until she got to the next GOSUB, to keep us from bugging her to try running the unfinished program again.

James McLachlan. I worked in a factory as a operator. Wasn't busy, responsible for checking quality. There was a book outlet in the neighborhood, bought some books about programming and read the books while working. First wrote the programs on paper, later a was able to buy a computer and test my programs. Than a year or so later one of the programs controlling a machine broke down because of a new type of sensor. Fixed the program, not a big thing, but that changed my career Marco Dumont. Ouch, I cringed when I saw "white-color crime. Matt Moldvan.

My origin story is getting a TRS somewhere around the fifth or sixth grade, but what strikes me most about all of our stories is how if you really wanted to play with your home computer during that era, you really had to write programs on them. If you didn't learn to program in BASIC, you would end up just staring at an empty screen with a blinking cursor. Brad Rembielak. I also got my start with computers in the mid 80's with the help of a little rule breaking. During my freshman and sophomore years, I was good friends with the band captain, who had a key to the band room.

As luck would have it, that same key also unlocked the door to the school computer lab which held 20 Apple IIe machines. We would spend most Friday nights, except for football season, in the computer lab either experimenting with programming or playing Wizardry III: Legacy of Llylgamyn.

We also met up during summers. For a while, the computer class teacher was even in our little "club", although he never actually knew about our nighttime mis adventures. He started up an after hours computer club, which our little group quickly joined. By my junior year, I was elected band captain and inherited the key. Shortly after that my parents got me my first computer.

It was an Atari xl and came with a whopping 16k of RAM. At first, all programs were stored on paper. I wrote a very simple video game that literally took me several hours to type every time I wanted to play it. Needless to say, during those days that computer rarely got turned off. Then, joy! My parents bought me a cassette drive that let me store programs on standard audio tapes.

Then, for Christmas, Mom bought me a German language program. It came on something like 20 tapes which had a mixture of data and recorded audio of native speakers. Each lesson would take 20 - 30 minutes to load, and perhaps 10 minutes to actually run through the exercises. However, it needed 32k to run properly. So, we shipped the computer off to the Atari service center to upgrade the ram. I graduated high school in and I received my first PC as a graduation present.

It was a Tandy I attended college in Livingston, AL where I was the only person in town with a computer that could read both disk formats. Fast-forward a few years Life got in the way of college. I had to get a job. But my love of computers endured. I was really active in the dial-up BBS community.

Then the internet pretty much killed the BBS's. For a while we held on as a telnet BBS, but the users disappeared one by one and we ended up closing down. Fast-forward a few more years. I worked various jobs, never got around to finishing my degree. Then a workplace injury got me into the office of my employer on light duty where they discovered that I actually had some computer skills. I helped them set up an office network, 10bT on coax cable, and did some CAD work. Then an opportunity for a tech support job for a major pharmaceutical distributor came along. Then the company merged with their biggest competitor and our support center was closed down.

From there I got a job on the local Air Force base as a contractor working with Oracle databases running on HP servers. I didn't like that environment very much. Every time the contract came up for bids we were all in danger of being laid off so I kept looking and found my current job where I work mostly on ASP. Net intranet and internet sites. Your story is so similar to mine, I saw my first computer in the eight grade. The first game I played was an educational game where you placed coordinates to throw a boulder and knock to try to knock down walls. It was very rough block graphics on a black screen with glowing white characters.

My dad moved alot and my parents had just gone through a divorce I went with my father and was sort of an outcast at school because of everything. We had just moved so I was at a different school and knew nobody there. My ninth grade science instructor had just convinced the school board to purchase three TRS computers and I was spellbound.

He made a deal to us. If we got our assignments in class done before it was time to leave he would make sure we got time to play on the computers. I can remember booting from the five and a half inch floppy disk and seeing DOS for the first time. The first really animated thing I saw was a program called dancing demon, where a graphical demon came out and started dancing on the screen.

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Given the time period it was a fantastic application written in hybrid Qbasic and assembly language. Listing the program used to make my crusor jump erratically all over the screen. This made me wonder how he did and drove me to want to learn. I had my assignments done and was getting out of classes with a half hour to spare almost every day. When summer break had come my science teacher convinced the school to order ten more newer TRS's and I don't fully know why dropped one off at my house for a week as they came in. All summer I had a computer that I spent almost every waking moment on.

I owe a lot to him, he was my mentor and my friend. Adam Davis. I was an English Lit major in when I ran out of money for university. My wife, a nurse, and I moved back to her home town and I got a job at a record store to accumulate the funds to resume my education. I spotted a news story about the need for computer programmers and a chance at a year long boot camp for training. I thought, what the hell. I wasn't doing anything anyway. It turned out I had a talent and a love. I stopped mainframe programming altogether in It's been a wonderful 36 years. No boredom. No insecurity about my skills.

I can go another 10 years, I think. Glenn Miller. Originally, I wanted to specialize in electronic hardware design and development. After a year of struggling with this they had us take a course in programming. The teacher kept asking me if I was sure I had no background in programming. I had never had any exposure to that.

During the final exam he looked over my shoulder for awhile and then told me to go home since I could not get higher than an A. The course made me realize that I could continue to struggle with hardware and be mediocre to average, or I could switch to programming and be stellar for the same amount of effort. So, I switched to digital engineering and ultimately earned four degrees along those lines.

The resulting career has been most satisfying. Peter Raeth. I've been a developer for 20 yrs. My career started when my older brought home an IBM computer and I started programming with it. I went on to study computer science in college. The rest is history. We'd write our programs on paper, type them on the teletype to create a paper tape, and then dial in and log onto the system.

When we were finished, we would then produce a new paper tape with the current version of the program. The old paper tapes became our source control system. One could save a program to disk on the system, but that cost real money, which was charged against our monthly budget. While in college I managed to also have two part time programming jobs. When I graduated I had to make a choice; mainframe vs. It was pretty much a no-brainer; punched cards and batch processing on the mainframe and 64KB address space or interactive terminal on the minicomputer with 8KB address space.

I said goodbye to the mainframe and never looked back. I absolutely love how much emphasis your family puts on the importance of family. My family is the same way and I absolutely love seeing people that put family above all else. Adam Drummond. OMG, when I was in 5th grade my school principal let me take home the only computer the school had. I was also one of 5 students to be taken off campus for computer programming classes and hour a week.

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Thanks Scott for the nostalgic look-back. I'm guessing we're close in age - in the day, I was the Sinclair Spectrum 48K kid to your Commodore I too liked the notion of lifting the hood to see how it was put together. There could be no magic - something had to be connected to something. To my parents credit, they patiently listened to me justify the astronomical cost of an IBM PC which thankfully was bargained down to the Spectrum. After an initial period of game-trading at school, I turned to entering page after page of hex to 'make' a game. A week-long computer summer course in a nearby city cemented the interest and so laid the foundation for a career in computing when this was far from the 'done thing'.

You're right to remind us of the forbearance and sacrifice that parents often give us which gets lost in the outlook of a child and the passing of time. Even today, with things like this far more accessible though perhaps time isn't so plentiful , I wonder if I'm as accommodating of things I don't understand or value.

Were it not for that Spectrum, might I be doing something completely different and now looking over the fence at what might have been? Who knows? But parents when at their best are selfless creatures. John Kelleher. It was the summer between 7th and 8th grade and, as it typical during the summer months, my friend and I were bored without some sort of activity to keep us occupied. One day, he said "let's go up to Western and use their computer.

Actually, I grew up a little over 10 miles south of Bellingham and, being that my only mode of transportation at the age of 13 was a bicycle, a trip to Western to "use their computers" was not just a casual trip. Walt assured me that it would be fun though so off we headed. Arriving at the computer center, I had no idea what to expect. The room had a series of cubicles with desks and terminals - no actual computers here.

We found two desks next to each other and he told me to type "bug" on one of them. Eventually tiring of that, I turned to see what my friend was doing. What's that? A few hours later, I had my first program - one that would choose a random number and allow the player to guess it giving "higher" or "lower" hints along the way.

After that first foray into the world of computers, I didn't really pursue it very seriously after all, it was a mile bike ride to indulge. When I finally got to high school, I was encouraged to find that the school had two serial lines connected to the Western Terminal System that could be used for creating programs so I took a Computer Concepts class.

I found I had a knack for programming eventually taking a total of twelve high school classes. William Sears. Blue let me "attempt" to teach the freshman programming class when I was in high school. I'm pretty sure that wasn't allowed but it gave him more time to work with the students who had trouble with the material. My experience with teachers has been the same as with programmers. One teacher in twenty is 10 to times better than the other teachers. Timothy Lee Russell. But -- I should say, bless anyone willing to be a teacher.

It is a super important but often thankless job! Here is my photo story: Me being 1. The second photo was staged during my visit in my parent's house. I've been working as a Software Engineer for 6 years now. Wojciech Turowicz. I got hooked up with the whole idea of programming, I was so young that I couldn't understand the English command since English isn't my first language, my elder sisters used to study BASIC at school, so I was spending hours copying character by character each program they study and try to run it, I was 6 when I was introduced to the word "Syntax Error".

Great ride so far. Mohamed Elsherif. I was in third grade when we went down to my aunt and uncle's house for a visit. I was about 8, maybe a little older. I had gotten so hooked on the thing that for Christmas my aunt and uncle gave me the TI my cousin wasn't using it anyway. The fact that I could make this thing do what I wanted bounce a simple ball on the screen and let it beep blew my mind.

Having filled my obsession with the TI, I wound up taking a summer school "honors" class in 4th grade for programming. All the other kids my age were taking the "beginner" class that was about how to turn the thing on. I wanted to make programs! I could babble on and on I love reading these stories!

Thanks for bringing it up Scott! My start began with Super Mario Brothers. Insisting on how the heck it worked I started taking computer classes when I was in fifth grade, from there it was classes offered for kids from EDS When Ross Perot owned it and finally at 15 to 16 and using layaway for 9 months I finally purchased my Packard Bell with state of the art 80 meg hard drive and the Pentium 90mhz chip : That and Excel and I have been programming for almost 20 years since. Your teacher and parents were really kind and awesome.

As for me, typically of an Asian kid, I got sent to a cram school in early 90's; I was just starting junior high. To my delights, they had 6 computers there for teaching us Basic; I enjoyed the lessons and the play-time. We had Prince of Persia, and a few other games. Though, it didn't occur to me at the time that I loved programming. I actually forgot about it until I went to a university and enrolled in a Pascal programming class; my classmates either hated it or excelled in it, however, for me it brought total joy and excitement.

I was simply your typical good student who excels academically but with no real passion. That was when I found my passion. I wanted to learn to do 3D animations while I was in school, I was 13 if I recall correctly I saw a street dealer that sold pirated discs, and one of them was Visual Basic 6. Due to the VB6 logo, I thought that it allowed me to create 3D animations When I installed that software, I learned that it wasn't made for that, but I learned to code because I wanted to give that hard earned pirated app a spin.

Nowadays I just kept coding, I found it more interesting than designing 3D stuff. Juan Pablo Villaseca. I mean it did kind of.. I had to buy my own commodore 64 though.. My first computer could be considered pong I suppose. Same age - 5th grade. My teachers let me stay in the computer lab all day rather than attend the regular class. Corey Henderson. I've always had the "tinkerer" gene.

One of my earlier memories is at the age of about 6 taking apart our old D-cell powered radio which I'd had handed down to me to convert it for use with an AC adapter. I also had early exposure to typewriters, in my case a big old mechanical monster with a huge all-caps typeface. I was well-versed in the arcade games of the time, spending huge chunks of my one week a year vacation time shoveling 10p coins into games like Sprint 2, Space Invaders, Asteroids, Breakout and Pole Position and I knew that at the heart of each of these machines was a computer.

On one of those vacations in July the camp we generally vacationed at every year had just introduced a new feature for that season: a computer lab, consisting of several dozen networked Atari XL systems arranged in a semi-circle with an instructor's station at the center. I signed up immediately for my 1 hour lesson which consisted of the instructor leading us, line by line, through a more than usually colorful version of "Hello World".

It wasn't much really, barely a taster, but I It came with 6 games on cassette tape, which of course I tried first. They proved entirely resistant to loading with the ancient tape recorder I had, so I did the next best thing. I opened the manual at chapter 1 and began working my way through it, tinkering and experimenting as I went along and gained understanding of how these different instructions worked together.

A few weeks later, my dad came home one evening and handed me issue 1 of "Input" magazine tagline: learn programming for fun and the future. Where the manual left off they picked up, with games, sound and graphics being a major focus of many articles. A friend loaned me a copy of a book about programming games; I liked it so much I actually scraped together my pocket money to buy my own copy. Later on I discovered the joys of type-in listings in the computer magazines and what Z80 machine code could do for me. One of my closest friends and I would send each other regular "message tapes" and try to out-do each other on making this simple computer do really cool stuff.

Before very long I became certain that at last, I'd found my true calling.


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Almost 30 years on I still get a kick out of solving a problem with lines of code and am lucky enough to have a job where I get to do that every day without too much of the related BS which seems to go along with the corporate programming environment these days. Paul Glover. Hey Scott and all, Great stories I read here and decided to share mine too. Although not so exciting as the rest I read here, I hope you find it interesting: How did I get started on computers and programming.

I noticed that, almost all of have started in 5th grade. Maybe, the technical part of our brain gets activated : or we just get sick of painting, nature and history? Jeremy Hutchinson. I recognize most of what you wrote. The curiosity. The compulsive desire to open things up and tinker with them. The 'geek outsider' hardly surprising at that time as no one knew much about computers.

I was at a Britisch boarding school and there were 2 such machine accessible day and night. All they did was put a teach-yourself course beside it. I was happy as could be. Very funny Now to something different. I know very well how I got started with computers. Now, as a parent, I'm scratching myself on the head wondering how to create a similar environment for my daughter now 9.

But computers have changed! And there's not this amber screen waiting with just an input line. It's all windows, icons and mice. Even though I can offer her a really simple programming environment Logo, Simple Basic, etc there is no immediate need to program. After all, she just surfs to Google and finds what she needs.

When I switched on the PET it was in dire need of instructions. That at least forced me to think like a programmer right from the start. I'm curious to see how my kids will fare in this landscape. I'm going to try robotics this summer I think Mindstorms. Peter Donker. It was 8th grade and it was the math class from hell. That is how I got into programming. It was one of the "new math" classes.

They wanted us to write essays about our experiences and feelings. I spent the time instead programming my calculator after figuring out the equations, to answer all the questions. Then I wrote games. God I hated the TI, it would leak memory like you wouldn't believe and crash. Every bad programming habit I learned from dealing with the TI's shit. I'm so glad they have since overhauled the hardware, I would not wish my experience on anyone. Strife Onizuka. My uncle had a tool shop hardware store for US readers. Back in the late 70's he got himself a Commodore Pet for the business.

I worked my paper round in order to afford a Sinclair ZX81 in I wrote a few games, moved on to a Commodore Vic 20, then a C Went to a Tech College in 86, learned all about databases dBase 2 anyone? Moved in CL programming. Finally went solo and have been writing Windows apps for healthcare since Quickest CV I ever wrote Thanks for listening.

G'night, stay safe : - Stu. Stuart Clennett. My math teacher in junior high, Mr. Blumenfeld, introduced us to a fascinating contraption on a tall stool that appeared, at first glance, to be an adding machine of some sort. But the thing was programmable, and came with this very nifty manual showing all the instructions you can program into it. I was mesmerized. But an incident by a couple of students led him to punish the entire class and terminate those lessons. It was pretty devastating, especially since it had triggered a passion that has stayed with me through now.

Saperstein, on the Wang and Olivetti desktop machines. If I recall correctly, the Olivetti machine had a brownish casing, and seemed more modern. We also had a Commodore Pet, but although the keyboard with all the strange graphic characters was interesting, students pretty much ignored that machine for some reason. The first real program I wrote for class, of course, was a baseball simulation game, since I was always a huge fan.

That first programming project gave me an unbelievable feeling — to be able to create something out of nothing was so empowering! I desperately wanted something to program at home. I wanted a home computer, but nothing was really available yet in the mid to late 70s at least what I was aware of. I still have this somewhere. I came across it, along with its manual as I was cleaning out some old junk recently, but I have no idea where I placed it since.

In January , a couple of months after I started dating my future wife, Lorri, my parents gave me a choice. It was a no-brainer. In the early 80s, the vast majority of my time was spent with Lorri or the TRS As I started skimming through it, I was shaking so strongly from excitement, it must have been visible to all those around me. This brought my little computer to a whole new level. Mark Freedman. My story borders on TL;DR How I got into computers. Jeff Putz. I can relate to this story. Back home in the Dominican Republic, there was no such thing as a computer.

We used type writers in high school. I was also fascinated by electronic devices, so i would break the radio at home just so that i can open it up and mess around with the board and "fix it". One time i really messed up the radio and spent a month looking for the problem. I had my little tester to test where the electricity was flowing etc.


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  6. It turned out that half the board was toasted. I end it up soldering a wire from one end of the board to the other and the brought the radio back to life. So i though to myself, huh, maybe the board didn't need all that other extra parts Ohhh, and there was always an extra screw after you tried to put things back together. Good times!!! Vladimir Heredia. I am blown away that your parents would sell the car to give you a computer. I started to cry when I read that. Stephen Real.

    Love this! Also very impressed with parents selling a car to buy you a computer. Very cool. Reading this inspired me to blog my own story. If you're interested. Love reading your stuff, but have never commented. If you read my blog you'll probably understand why! Same as Mr Putz, my story is a bit long, but it was great walking down memory lane again.

    Thanks for a great post Mr Hanselman! Kevin Hogg. That's pretty much my story too, only mine took place in El Paso, Texas, over the summers of and with a Macintosh LC from my science teacher Mr. Most awesome science teacher ever, for so many more reasons than just the borrowed Mac! Dan Dautrich. It was basic on my fathers commodor pet for me in the 80s Like this, I am very much impressed. Really very interesting that you've started so early. I was born in at Tehran,Iran. I've started working with computers at age Farzin Seyfollahi.

    Ok So I was from Bengali medium and first saw computer back in in a computer class in our school. The class use to be very boring with loads of English blah blahs describing a lot of computer theory. I immediately started hating it, and use to think "why oh why". Among all other things in the world why did my dad wanted me to learn computer. BTW just wanted to mention that my dad himself learned operating a computer back on 70's on a IBM mainframe.

    And that was his first and last experience ever working on a computer. So as I was telling one fine day I just quit the class on my own. After couple of months I found a book in our computer lab. Which was written entirely in Bengali. So since then I was really exited about programming in computer. Sadly I had not computer to run it on. I again saw a computer face to face on in one of my friends house.

    As I also had a lot of interest in electronics. I convinced him to open that PC for me. What I saw inside there really kept me baffled. I was expecting a lot of circuitry and a lot of wires going from here to there. Instead I just saw one single board with some chips on it.

    And that is where I got actually curious. I asked him how the heck does the computer works with so less circuitry. He said it works for the processor which is having a lot of registry. So I asked what are the registry's? All these things happening just for memory locations???? And voila. Now I am deep into programming. I took my passion as my job I still feel thankful to the author of that Computer Book and of course my friend Pradeep who allowed me open his pc.

    Thanks buddy :. My sister bought me darkbasic when I was 14 as a birthday present. I thought it was some kind of drag and drop game creator only to find a black screen with a blinking cursor when I launched the application. It was a game engine with a basic language on top of it so I started learning myself basic from the manual. Been hooked on programming since then. I still have the original box at home on my desk Luc Bos. My first computer experience was when I was about I am not sure where it was Nothing really happened with my life and computers till a couple of years later when, I was probably about 9 or 10, a friends brother got a Commodore Amiga I don't know which one it was, off hand, but it was, to me anyway, a "proper" computer About a year later, I got my hands on my first programmable computer, a Commodore I got it with some games on tape, but, being the lazy git i am, i hated having to wait for the games to load NET and now C.

    Now I am going on year 19 of my computer life I have spent more time working on computers than anything else. Glad I did! Tiernan OToole. Darn, when you got to the car missing, I started crying before I read the rest of the sentence. Nothing can beat that. On the shoulders of giants, indeed. I was in the 3rd year of psych grad school, my 1st year in the PhD program, and was getting a little bored. In the back of the personality theories book was a rating chart: all the theories in the book ranked on 20 or so dimensions. I figured maybe the bright young stat prof PhD, Stanford, age 20 would have an idea.

    His response: "yes, we have just the thing. Veldmann's Hierarchical Profile Grouping Analysis. We had a brand-new IBM Model that's 8 as in 8K of core memory, and that's core memory as in wires wrapped around little magnets by the quilting ladies from the hills around Tullahoma, TN, where IBM had a plant for making core memory. But it's better than being bored, right? Two weeks later I came into the computer lab and said "OK, I'm done with the books. Uh, how do you use a punchcard machine?

    To keep long story short, most important thing in my childhood I'm 30 now, btw was that my dad didn't want to buy me new computer, while other kids were having new shiny and expensive computers where newest games can be played. So, I suppose it's important to guide your kids, but in the same time give them freedom to explore by them self. It was fun time, full of learning and exploration. Now I'm full time developer, asp. I always get a tingling when I visit it. I wish I had teachers and parents like that. Now, I'm the parent, and your story is inspirational.

    Hope my son will write a similar post in 20 years. Victor Ionescu. The other kids? Julien Sansot. When it comes to programming and computers my father is my inspiration and the main reason why I started programming. He got interested in computers in the early eighties after finishing Faculty of mechanical engineering. We live in Serbia, former Yugoslavia, and back then our country was a communist country and computers where hard to come by.

    So in the I was 2 years than : he went to Italy and bought Sincler Spectrum 48k. And than he had to smuggle it back to Yugoslavia because it was illegal to import a computer. So he took apart the car door to put the computer inside and fortunately cross the border safe! After that he quickly started learning Basic from a book in English and a English dictionary since he didn't spoke a word in in English! Now he is 58 and using Visual Studio and. NET Framework 4. For me, it started in like a bunch of others it seems. One year, for christmas, he just gave me the computer and that was the beginning of my career.

    Then I got a Commodore Amiga and taught myself C. Back then, the C compiler came on like 6 or 8 floppies, and to compile a program actually required swapping in and out all those floppy disks. It was a real experience! Now I live in the. Net framework and C. Now I'm Sr. Software Engineer at a large software firm.

    Sometimes I wish I could find my Big Brother, I doubt he has any idea what kind of impact that "toy", to him, had on my life. I was taking chemistry in high school and got tired of doing linear interpolation by hand. I had a TI and started looking at the owner's manual to see if I could program it to prompt for my input and give me the answer.

    I've been programming in some capacity ever since. My story starts in about My dad is an electrical engineer, and before the days of Heathkits, he designed an built his own computer. We're talking drawing schematics, handwrapping circuit boards, building cases and power supplies -- everything. Actually, it was a series of computers built over the course of a few years. He was always rebuilding and upgrading.

    They were Z80 based, running CPM. Various monitors, 8" floppy drives, etc. His work deserves a story of its own, perhaps a good blog article with some pictures! As for me, I remember starting out playing a few games -- The Original Adventure, some text based Star Trek thing, etc. I read them over and over. I started writing games, and other useful things like a program to help me study my spelling and vocabulary. I learned to tear apart the source to the Adventure game and its successors to learn to cheat. Eventually the PC came out, and dad's computer became a thing of the past.

    I'm a. NET developer now, and thank my dad every day for giving me the love of computers and the opportunity to start working with them at such an early age. Hi Scott, great story. I'm currently working on a lesson plan for schools to get kids age into programming. I plan to use Scratch have you tried it? Shaun Austin. Mathieu Gosbee. Very cool post. I convinced my parents to buy me a Vic 20 back in the day. We had a computer shop on main street that you could go into and swap programs, hack on hardware and talk shop.

    The old dudes running the place were so cool. I wrote some games in basic and then sold it to buy an Atari That thing was awesome! Wrote a ton of games on that beast. Then I discovered girls and completely dropped computers until my early 20's when I picked up an Amiga That was when I decided to make a career in IT. Just wish I hadn't wasted those years chasing girls instead of coding My parents moved a lot.

    Not military, just I never made friends, always just read. Grab backpack, walk to the library, fill backpack, walk home, read all day, repeat type read. I was diagnosed with diabetes at 8 October, and my parents were struggling with the diagnosis, and my sudden needs.

    Not sure if you remember them, but there was no commercial software for them. I didn't care. There were these books at the library that taught you machine language, or Pascal, or some of them had programs that you'd type into a more "conventional" computer like an Apple.

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    You could then enter secret messages from the book and get the results. Or you could check out computer magazines with source code in them from the library. I had to dissect what they were trying to do and make it do that on my machine. I had found a new love, an interactive, programmable book. We got a modem for it a bit later, but I had to write my own terminal program for it. I learned how to navigate the local BBSes and made friends online that - even though my family kept moving - I could finally keep in touch with. They were adults when I was nine years old, and they treated me like an equal.

    A few years later my Dad cut his thumb off at work. He was an offset printer. They reattached it, but it's a bit traumatic. My Dad used his settlement money to buy me a Commodore 64, used, with a disk drive and modem. I was in heaven - a real computer. We could've used the money to buy a car we needed one , to pay medical bills I cost a lot of money , or even just buy food.

    We weren't well to do. But he got me a Commodore Later, he brought home a Compaq luggable computer from United Van Lines. They let you check them out to train yourself. And I learned how to work it. But we didn't get a PC - not yet. I had to. My Dad bought me some books on programming as a gift, but I told him I couldn't use them because we didn't have an IBM. One day my Dad said "let's go buy you an PC. I can't stress that enough. My parents were divorced by then. But his employer had given him a loan to purchase a PC.

    It was incredible. And I could use the books he gave me. I kept that computer for years. But one day it just went poof - smoke and sparks from the back. I was devastated. I had decided I wanted to do something with computers with my life, but that possibility had just been removed. I was living with my Mom then, got bounced quite a bit. My Dad wasn't doing well, and I thought I was totally screwed. After that I just kept plugging away. I created a grade tracking program for my Geometry teacher in high school. I had previously been published in Compute!

    I was asked if I knew how to setup a network and my reply was, "Nope, but I'll bet I can figure it out. I can remember the argument I had with the gentleman who hired me. Wanted to program though, not be a system administrator, so I wiggled my way into programming through automation and creation of needed hole fillers. I met my wife on the Internet eighteen years ago. I'm a bit screwed up - face to face interaction isn't something I do well, even today - but I can type really fast and I love computers. I love C and. NET, but assembly will always have a special place in my heart. Brian Schkerke.

    My story starts even further back. At school in the early 's rural southern England one of the schoolmasters was interested enough to start a computer club. He arranged with one of his mates for us to get 15 minutes a week on an ICL mainframe in one of the local companies.

    Most of our programming time was punching the cards for jobs by hand - debugging a program meant working out which of the card codes you got wrong. It still hooked me and 50 years later I'm still programming like mad for my own company and have had a very profitable career! Tim Booth. Excellent History I live in Colombia, where, in the mid 80s computers were reserved for Banks and that was it.

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