How it all started

My fascination with computers started at a very young age. Do you remember when you were a kid and people asked you what you want be when you grow up? Many people were surprised (or terrorized, can't be sure) to hear I wanted to "program computers". I guess they were expecting "fireman" or "astronaut".

I wrote my first non-trivial program in primary school using GW-BASIC. It was a text adventure with a separate if statement for each instance of user input; I hadn't discovered the concept of loops yet. I think I may have missed an opportunity for a software patent here. It took me some time, but I recovered from the GW-BASIC experience and I am still sane enough to tell the story.

At about this time I started thinking about algorithms. I wanted to create a program to play tic-tac-toe against me, and my young mind came up with surreal ideas about the computer evaluating the board state by assigning numbers to cells and adding them together. I confess that I still haven't abandonded my childhood dream.

The next milestone was Turbo Pascal. With it I experienced the frustrat.., ahem, the joy, of trying to program without any knowledge of the language or libraries, and without any guide beyond the help file. I later realized that this was an excellent preview of life as a software developer.

You can imagine my delight when I eventually convinced the compiler to build my program and got my first executable file. I fervently copied the program to floppies to give to my friends. This was the point of no return.