How I Became a Programmer

I feel very lucky to have grown up when I did. I was 10 years old in 1982, which was the year I got an Atari 800. It was a beautiful machine with a whopping 8k of RAM. I have a vague memory of buying extra ram for it that came in blocks the size of VHS tapes and upping the RAM to 48k, but I don’t really remember.

What I do remember is BASIC. The only fun thing to do with an 8k computer was to program it. And programming in BASIC is so simple that, well, a 10 year old could do it.

I remember a tutorial to create a “guess what number I’m thinking of” game. Off the top of my head, it looked something like this:

10 PRINT “GUESS A NUMBER BETWEEN 1 AND 100″
20 X = 42
30 INPUT Y
40 IF X = Y THEN PRINT “YOU GOT IT!”
50 IF X > Y THEN PRINT “TOO LOW”
60 IF X < Y THEN PRINT “TOO HIGH”
70 GOTO 30

It didn’t take long to grasp the basic concepts, and those concepts serve me well to this day when it comes to procedural programming.

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4 Responses to How I Became a Programmer

  1. Nick says:

    Yo Issa,

    I’d be curious to hear more about how you programmed ECE. Did you start from scratch with PHP or use a CMS like Drupal?

  2. Issa Diao says:

    Nick, Drupal has been my CMS of choice for a while now. ECE is based on drupal 6 pressflow.

  3. Tom Mahony says:

    Wow. This is really funny/awesome. I hadn’t thought of basic in about 1,000,000 years. I can’t program anything anymore, but it was a trip to read that program and remember how to do stuff like that. We’ve seen more technological progress in the last ten years than most humans could expect themselves or their children to see. Wild.

  4. David Grenier says:

    What, no X=RND?

    IIRC, you also needed to put a RANDOMIZE statement before your RND statement, otherwise the “random” number was always the same.

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