How did I get started in software development?

Ken Egozi tagged me with the latest meme and this time it’s at least relevant :)

How old were you when you first started in programming?

Some time between 10 and 12 when my father bought home a ZX Spectrum and I ended up delving into the excellent programming manual when I finally ran out of games to play. At the same time my school opened up the computer room at lunchtimes…

What was your first programming language?

BASIC on the Sinclair Spectrum (evenings) and BBC Micro (lunch-times and after school). Multi-platform from the outset ;-)

What was the first real program you wrote?

Probably the MultiFile +3 disk & file management tool for the Spectrum in a mix of assembler and BASIC but I was also creating menu and copy protection for the BBC Micro around the same time.

I also trashed an expensive 3” disk drive at the time with a small bug in my end-of-disk detection code that resulted in the drive trying to step itself beyond the end several times and knocked it out of alignment.

What languages have you used since you started programming?

Well I’ve *used* the following although ones in italics for only brief periods involving one or two small applications.

  • BASICs: Sinclair, BBC, Microsoft, QBASIC, Mallard, QuickBasic, ASIC
  • Assemblers: Z80, 6502, 8051
  • Visual Basic, VBA, VBScript, VB.NET
  • C, C++, Objective-C, C#, Java, JavaScript, ActionScript
  • Turbo Pascal, Delphi, SQL, PHP
  • COBOL, RPG, SmallTalk, Algol, Prolog

I’m not sure if XSLT/XPath or RegEx’s count.

What was your first professional programming gig?

Writing IBM AS/400 (iSeries) banking applications in COBOL age 17 joining a team where the leader was already known as the Kindergarten Cop as everyone in his team was “only 23-25”. I got to delve into the kernel, general ledger and securities systems eventually single-handedly developing intricate multi-base-currency support leaving days before my 19th birthday. (Okay, a little pride there ;-)

If you knew then what you know now, would you have started programming?

Without a shadow of a doubt.

If there is one thing you learned along the way that you would tell new developers, what would it be?

Enjoy the journey, new languages are going to come and go so learn them just-in-time ;-)

It’s a shame computers and languages are more complex now but with the Internet and great books available there is no real barrier to entry.

What’s the most fun you’ve ever had programming?

Any application that brings a smile to a users face :)

Some ‘interesting’ moments have been revisiting school-level physics for a pool game and an on-the-fly domain class construction system for an international configurable payroll package.

Who am I calling out?

I’m not sure any of them are reading my blog any more but you never know ;-)


4 responses

  1. Avatar for josh

    Here's hoping Rob Conery responds... going to click-thru now so he sees the incoming link.

    josh August 5, 2008
  2. Avatar for Ken Egozi

    @Damien: Go Sinclair :)

    @Josh - liked the ComputeristSolutions website. Looks like a great job done. Two things missing there though: Who are we, and staff blogs. I bet these would be extremely interesting as the way you do your things looks very cool.

    Ken Egozi August 5, 2008
  3. Avatar for josh

    Thanks. Adding a blog has been on my mind but I really don't think I'm that interesting. I think its probably a good marketing tool and perhaps a way for me to grow as a dev so I may eventually do it. The company is mostly just me, although I have some occasional, good help.

    josh August 6, 2008
  4. Avatar for Echilon

    "What was the most fun you've had programming?" I always have fun programming. I genuinely prefer adding a feature to playing games. I just wish someone had given me the kick start I needed, but didn't get until I was 19. If I'd have started when I was 12 I'd have written my own Linux kernel by now. :P

    Echilon October 4, 2008