Anne Kate pushed out and asked for some folks to answer the question “How I got started programming?” Seeing as I was on the list (not quite sure how I made that list, but ok…) Here’s the juicy bits
How old were you when you started programming?
I had to really think about this, but I think I was 12. It may have been when I was 13. I remember spending many, many long hours puttering away at the thing while in Jr High. I’m sure I wrote a few simple programs then, but to be honest I mostly used it to write or get into BBS’s.
How did you get started in programming?
My first computer was a TRS-80 Model 1 (no, not the Apple II that so many others day). I longed for an Apple II, and I recall they were in my high school – but I never had one myself. I did learn/teach myself Pascal on the Apple II (this would be around 1983- 84) (they were Apple IIc’s by then), but I got started on the TRS-80 with 4K of RAM – Upgraded multiple times over it’s lifespan until we more RAM (I don’t recall the max) and 3 (yes, Three!) Disk Drives (that was for compiling in Pascal – lots of disk swapping). A lot of people called them “Trash 80’s”, but I loved that machine.
What was your first language?
I’ve to say BASIC. I vaguely recall programming all sorts of spaghetti stuff in BASIC in my earliest years. Once I got to High School and learned about Pascal though, I never really looked back. All these folks were talking about how awesome BASIC was, and it was good – but it wasn’t nearly as interested as Pascal was to me.
What was the first real program you wrote?
Oh lord, I have no idea. Probably some little trivia thing in BASIC or something to generate a space-invaders like graphics on the machine while I was trying to figure out how all those nifty games worked.
What languages have you used since you started programming?
What was your first professional programming gig?
The first gig I had where I programmed (not the same as your question, I think) was as a System Administrator at the University of Missouri – Columbia. I wrote quite a bit of maintenance and utility code in Perl, sh, and later Java. Later on at the same University, I became a Lead System Administrator (a manager in any sane place, but I didn’t have a manager title – just the responsibility of one) and there I was much more heavily involved in progamming. Actually (here’s the fun part) – I’d hired Gus for a while at that job… so you can imagine where he got his start at not wanting to “work for the Man”. 🙂
If there is one thing you learned along the way that you would tell new developers, what would it be?
Learn how to use source control! It’s a personal pet peeve of mine – that students coming out of a university haven’t a clue how to really collaborate with anyone else using things like source control/versioning systems. I don’t really give a crap which one you get into, but for krike’s sake please learn one! There’s a huge amount of more and likely better advice out there for new programmers – shoot, Jeff Johnston and I hassled some poor sod that came by the XCoders’ after-meeting a few weeks ago with a ton of advice on living and working as a coder in Seattle fresh out of school.
Whatâ€™s the most fun youâ€™ve ever had programming?
The most fun? Wow – that’s hard actually. I enjoyed the hell out of creating TrenchMice (now defunct) with Django and Python. I’ve also more recently really gotten a kick out of working on a Disney game with some co-workers down in North Hollywood, CA. And I think I’ve been the most proud (not a category, but I’ll loop in there anyway) of the work that I did with Gus and a select few at the University creating a real Single Sign On environment before it was cool or even fashionable. It was a mixture of complex infrastructure, databases, coding utilities and web application, and keeping the whole thing running integrating NT 4, Novell Directory Services, Active Directory (just out at the time!), Unix/NIS, and Kerberos systems with a single web-based front end. I suspect it’s all way gone to hell now at the University, but we made it and ran it for several years there.
So there you go – a little history of me.
2 thoughts on “How I got started programming”
I’d also say that the SSO (technically a SAR) stuff we did at the university was the most fun I had as well. If only because people didn’t think such a thing was even possible 🙂
Ohh, I worked on some SSO stuff at UTD, where I worked for a year or so after I graduated. Good times. “Doing the impossible” is one of the most rewarding experiences in any kind of engineering.
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