fighting the lack of good ideas

firsts – programming

I realized earlier this week that it’s been 19 years since I first started programming. Not my first exposure to computing, which was in about 1986 on my aunt’s Mac 512 .. but still a long time ago 🙂

My aunt gave me a Tandy 102 laptop that had a whole walloping 21446 bytes of storage. It had the capability to store up to 19 files, and the names had to be in a 6.2 form (ie, not the “standard” DOS 8.3 naming convention).

It shipped with MS BASIC somethingorother, and had a 40 character wide by 8 character tall screen. Oh, and don’t forget the built-in 300 bps modem (that ‘rotary’ dialed)!

I learned BASIC from Learning BASIC for the Tandy by David A Lien. I learned a LOT from that book – not the least of which was that color doesn’t work on a monochrome screen 🙂

I also learned how pseudorandom numbers can be “manipulated” to help you win games .. and that typos suck : mightily.

Some of my programming habits that I still carry (even in writing “throwaway” scripts), come from my time of writing programs on an extremely limited machine.

After playing with BASIC for a year or so, I started writing for my aunt’s old Mac iiVX (which had 5MB RAM and an 80MB hard disk!) using Microsoft QuickBASIC 1.0 (a compilable BASIC), then moved into Turbo Pascal for a couple months, and then into C++ in 1993. My introduction to C++ was in the form of working with a family friend from church who wanted to learn C++ (but knew C), and who wanted to try-out some ideas he had for work with finite element analysis software. So we (I built the mesh generator/parser, and acted as syntax fiend) built a FEA application using Borland C++ 4.0 on his 486 running Windows 3.11 for workgroups. That was a screamer compared to my little laptop: it ran at 66Mhz, and had 16MB RAM! Wow: those were the days 🙂

My cell phone has more RAM than that now, and a faster CPU, to boot!

I know I didn’t start as long ago, or as young, as some of my friends, colleagues, and cofiends – but there’s my story 🙂