cctalk Digest, Vol 67, Issue 6

Chris Zach cz at
Tue Apr 7 08:00:09 CDT 2020

Indeed. My dad worked at Bell labs in the 1970's and when I was in third 
grade he brought home a TRS80 Model 1 Level 1 to do work on. It had a 
game on cassette called space war or something that I always wanted to 
play but he had to load it. Finally he taught me how to CLOAD to get me 
out of his hair so I could play it.

When I got bored I found the other game he had for it on cassette: 
"Introduction to programming". And that night my parents came into the 
living room to find me running my first program: Termites. Which would 
fill the screen then randomly turn off pixels to simulate termites 
eating your house down....

Got better from there. But I still value basic for the quick use of MID$ 
and Len(x$) to quickly parse strings of text.


On 4/6/2020 11:09 PM, Adam Thornton via cctalk wrote:
> On Apr 6, 2020, at 10:00 AM, cctalk-request at wrote:
>> They play with the
>> pennies to discover that they can roll around, and learn that they're not
>> food or nasal suppositories,
> I was with you up till here, but wait, what?
> I’m one of those kids who was just the right age.
> Five years older and I would have been in the Car Club, and would have ended up being a damn good mechanic without a lot of career opportunities.
> Five years later and not every damn computer on the planet would have come with a BASIC interpreter in ROM and who knows what my tinkering instinct would have led to.
> But I, born in 1971, had an Atari 2600 and its BASIC programming cartridge, and in the fall on 1982 I got a VIC-20, and sometime in 1983 my parent bought me an Apple //e.
> So I did grow up with Microsoft BASIC as my first language, and, sure, it doesn’t lend itself well to structured programming, but then when I wanted to know “well how do you do _that_?” I ended up in 6502 assembly, and picked up P-System PASCAL and Logo along the way.  Then in the summer of ’89 I interned in a physics department, and got OK at Turbo Pascal and sort-of-vaguely-able-to-write C.
> College brought REXX on (IBM VM/CMS; I didn’t get an Amiga until the 2010s, well after its relevance) and Perl and Scheme and SPARC assembly, and grad school (both for irrelevant degrees: Ancient Mediterranean Civilization and History…but wait, there’s a footnote) 680x0 assembly and Java.  (The footnote is, well history of computing, so I got a lot of deep-dive stuff into other languages and architectures.)  Since then, whatever I needed to learn when I needed to learn it.  I’ve programmed COBOL for money, which has joined the ranks of things I’m not super-proud to have done for money but hey it paid the bills when I needed it.
> Since then…Python, C, Go, TypeScript, whatever was needed.  These days it’s mostly Python.
> But really what it was was that I was lucky enough to be in that small age window where computers were, one the one hand, something middle-class families could afford while still being capable of doing cool things, and on the other hand, simple enough that a smart adolescent could pretty much understand them more-or-less in their entirety.
> Adam

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