How old were you when you started programming?
I was 16, a sophomore in high school.
How did you get started in programming?
I got started at a time when desktop computers where finally coming to school systems in little bits. I attended a small high school in rural CT (1981-1985) and we had one Radio Shack TRS-80 which we had to share in our computer course. There were probably a half dozen of us who would spend our extra time taking turns and what was actually pair programming, writing simple games in the version of Microsoft Basic that came with those systems. The games were either text or used the simple ASCII graphics to make the game look more “graphical” than it really was.
This went on for three years of high school with each year getting additional TRS-80 systems.
What was your first language?
Microsoft Quick Basic.
What was the first real program you wrote?
My first real program was for a software company located near my home. The application was an accounting application for school systems to manage their Fund Accounting written in BASIC. The software ran on CP/M-based networks which was state-of-the-art at the time. We later ported the software to Novell Netware.
What languages have you used since you started programming?
What was your first professional programming gig?
My first programming gig out of college was really my first professional gig and was for a company writing security software which ran on PC’s but monitored Digital (DEC) VAX Systems for unauthorized changes to files. All of the system was written in C++.
If you knew then what you know now, would you have started programming?
Yes! I have always enjoyed both math and science and the challenges that go along with them. I find programming to be very similar with respect to the challenges. In programming you learn patterns of solving a problem but two problems are rarely solved in the same way and this keeps things interesting. I think knowing what I know now I would have gotten involved in more of the scientific aspects of technology something possibly in research at a university.
If there is one thing you learned along the way that you would tell new developers, what would it be?
It is easy when you are starting out or in between jobs to jump at a job and not really consider it over the long term. You can look back many years later and wish you had not taken the path you did. There is a lot of opportunity in the world for developers and plenty of time to chose what we want to do and how it may effect your life down the road and how it may effect your values.
Many folks never find the right opportunity that suits them, often chasing the large paycheck instead of the rewarding career.
What’s the most fun you’ve ever had programming?
I think the most fun I have ever had came in my first job while in high school at a company called Integral Computer Systems. The company wrote software (as I indicated above) for school systems to manage their accounting as well as their students (grades, report cards, attendance, etc.). The development team consisted of 2-3 senior people but the rest of the developers, 8-10, where high school and early college students who the owner of the company found in local high schools. We were all at the top of our class and real geeks. We had great time working 60-80 hrs a week during our summers just working on software, eating pizza and drinking soda.
The job lasted about 3 years and was the best time I have ever had working with a bunch of passionate people with no responsibilities and just discovering cool ways to create software.
If I could create a software company with a group of people with the same level of passion I think I would really have something. Anyone truly passionate and want to create a company out there??? Please email me.