How I got into programming (meme)

It’s been funny watching this meme slowly traverse my blog roll, and now I’ve been tagged. Cheers Chris

How old were you when you first started programming?

Most likely 8 or 9.

How did you get started in programming?

Roland goes digging
Roland goes digging

My father brought an Amstrad CPC464 (green screen) to do his thesis on.  Between ‘Roland goes digging’ and other games, making my own stuff became a fascination.

What was your first language?

Basic and Logo, lots of exploration with trivial stuff, also lots of entering game listings from Amstrad Computer User, in basic and/or hex.  I can’t believe the hours we spent reading in hex, and entering line by line, double/triple checking each one.  We never did get Splat! working….

What was your first real program you wrote?

Real? they really were all real, just not really useful.

Um, outside the demo-scene type graphics stuff, mode-x, ray tracing, phong shading stuff, I’m not sure when I wrote anything of outside value.  During high-school I hacked lots of games, to run, or fiddled the save games to give me lots of money, or better stats.  I wrote a telnet proxy at Uni to get free mudding

The first paid ‘programming’ I did was hacking the POS system at the pizza shop I worked at to change the inventory list, to avoid paying the developers consulting rates…

What languages have you used since you started programming?

To make new stuff:

Loco Basic, Logo, MS QuickBasic, Turbo C, Assembly (x86, 68k, PowerPC, custom), C, Quake-C, Shell/Scripting (Bash, Expect), C++, C#, Erlang

To alter/edit/fix:

Cobal, Fortran 77, VB6, VB.Net, Delphi

What was your first professional programming gig?

Software tester at Teltrend NZ(became Allied Telesyn Research which became Allied Telesis Labs), writing test tools, and automated testing in C, Bash, and Expect. Lots of braking other people’s stuff.

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

Heck yes, I love making things work, and I still have yet to create my own self adapting machine (aka Skynet/Terminator)

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

Learn to break stuff as well as build happy day software. Learn how things can/will go wrong, and at least say ‘we not covering that case’, rather than just be ignorant.

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


Mud Mapping Client @ Uni: I spent a few too many hours playing on TFE and wrote a ncursors based mapping client and telnet proxy to help playing.  I loved those large Sparc 5 screens.

3D data stuff @ Motion-Art: Also another fantastic time here, writing scripts for 3D Studio Max 2.0. We had a golf course exported from Autocad, and it took over an 1 hour to load the dxf file. We could not even mesh it with 128MB of RAM and 2x1GB swap disks and 48 hours time. So I wrote scripts to reduce the dataset to manageable volumes. Lots of fun, just making stuff work.

Curse Azure Bonds port @ now: This is a labour of love, and I’ve been working on it (in one form of another) for over 9 years.  I call it my knitting project, because I just pick it up, do a little and put it down for latter.  It is so satisfying un-weaving how the original game was built and worked.

I tag Matthew Owens-Smith, Shannon Smith, and Conor Boyd