I started out reading the BASIC manual for a TI-99/4A computer that my uncle gave me when I was in the 4th or 5th grade. I devoured them and several small magazines that had examples on the last couple of pages (3,2,1..Contact, for example).
When I was in the 5th grade I figured out you could view the source code for most Apple ][ software by pressing Ctrl+Reset. My friends and I poured over the code for Karateka and Oregon Trail, as well as the school's grading software (all in BASIC).
When I hit junior high, I learned C and C++. I wrote a few small, text-based games which I no longer have.
I didn't get a formal education in programming until my senior year of high school. And then it was in Pascal. They started a C++ class, but due to scheduling I couldn't take it. It wasn't until my sophomore year that I got my first PC to play with. Until then I had to use my friends' computers or my TI if I wanted to do any programming. I would write out code on paper at home and then run to their houses, type it in really quick and see what happened.
After that, I took several C++, networking classes and OS classes throughout college and earned by B.S. in CS. I also took a single Java class as Java was still fairly new.
During college I got a job as a Delphi developer for a small company. It was something a man in my neighborhood had started up. Unfortunately, he died unexpectedly six weeks later, making me the primary developer for the company. Thankfully, the Pascal class paid off.
It was during this time that I got started with mobile development. I created my own site using PHP. I had to rewrite it about a week later because my site got hammered the first weekend I opened and it couldn't handle the load.
Now, I work for a much bigger company using ColdFusion (the old codebase), Java, Angular and sometimes React. 19 years later, I'm still going strong and learning new things (like Vue and Ruby).
I still run that mobile software company, though I haven't put out an update to my software for a few years now. I'm nearly ready for a major update with a brand new site and a complete rewrite of my apps.
I couldn't imagine what I would be doing if my uncle hadn't given me that computer. I probably would have pursued my other dream of being an astronaut or something 😁.
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