Well, Dave Ward tagged me in Michael Eaton’s software development meme that’s been going around.

As far as blog-chain-letters go, this is a great one. It’s interesting to see how many diverse backgrounds lead us in the same direction.

How old were you when you started programming?

13 (33 years ago as of this writing.)

How did you get started in programming?

In 1974, there were no personal computers. My school got a very basic “programmable” calculator. It was about 8 times this size of today’s laptop computers, had the equivalent of 8 16Bit registers and a collection of math operations. This was my introduction to programming and I was hooked.

Shortly after a business that my father was involved in purchased a NC programmable lathe that folks were having some trouble figuring out how to “program” and it because my summer job. Programs were stored on punched tape.

Then in 1979 I got my hands on a MITS Altair 8800 CP/M Computer. Then I bought a used Osborne 1, follow by a Televideo TS-802 (a real work horse for it’s day) and then a Kaypro II “Portable”. 

Just after turning 18 I was off to Grumman Data Systems institute to learn business programming.

What was your first language?

My REAL first programming languages were proprietary machine dialects, but I started programming on the CP/M machines in Basic and Assembly at the same time. (Both of which I hated.)

I quickly switched. I got my hands on a copy of dBase II and did lots of application programming in that. Also, back in those days the “programming community” was largely underground, and a buddy hooked me up with a bootleg copy of PL/1 for CP/M. Once I was able to get it converted from the 8″ floppy that it arrived on to a 5 1/4″ inch floppy that my TS-802 could read I was off and running and hooked on PL/1.

I used PL/1 for many years and even did some IBM Mainframe PL/1 after my adult software career progressed.

What was the first real program you wrote?

I suppose it depends on what you call a “real program”. The NC algorithms were “real”.

The first “application” that I wrote was a Customer Management application written in dBase II for a local Travel Agency. The cool part was that, in addition to keeping a database and including a reporting module, it drove a model and did synchronization with the airlines “Sabre” system by modem (at 300 baud)!

What languages have you used since?

Wow, lets see if I can make a list.

Assembly, Basic, PL/1, Cobol, Fortran, Algol, APL,  JCL, “B””C”, Pascal, Gorlan (Gordon’s Language) , LISP, ADA, Modula-2, Modula-3, Oberon, Logo, Forth, Rebol, RPG, Smalltalk, Haskel, Snobol, Java, Perl, Prolog, Postscript, JavaScript, TCL,  J++, “C++”, Delphi, Objective-C, PHP, Python, C#, Visual Basic, Ruby

Oh my !

My favorites ???  PL/1, Pascal, ADA, Delphi, Visual Basic, C#

What was your first professional programming gig?

I did a bunch of little summer stuff before my first FULL TIME job.

My first full time gig was with Honeywell Information Systems on their international logistics systems. Big GCOS Mainframes, working in many different programming languages but mostly COBOL and huge IDB hierarchical databases (relational databases hadn’t caught on yet.)

If you knew then what you know now?

Duh !  I would have gone to Cambridge MA and hung around Harvard until I convinced Bill Gates to drop out and start a company with me :) !!!!!!

What is the one thing you would tell new developers?

Technical details are just technical details. If you want to build a great career, use technology to solve big BUSINESS problems.

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

I spent a year or two working on investigative systems for federal law enforcement agencies. It’s STILL the most interesting stuff I ever saw. (And it was mostly written in Clipper ! – But I was rewriting it in VB and Delphi)

Whew. Is that over yet?

Well, that’s how I got started. Thanks for tagging me, Dave.

Now I gotta go write some code !!