Last week I was sitting in my office last week and suddenly it hit me - it has been 22 years since I wrote my first computer program! Man, did that make me feel oooooollllllddd! The funny part is that I even remember the first program I wrote. It has an interesting story around it as well.
I was 10 years old (right - so now you know my age) at the time and my school announced that they were going to introduce computers as an optional subject that one could take up if one wished. I was interested in learning this (having been a Star Trek fan by then already), so with my parents' blessing I signed up. For the first few classes I took, there was no sign of a computer anywhere. It was all about ALU, SPU, VDU type type. And then we moved on to BASIC. All programming was done using pencil and paper only.
After about 10-15 days of this, our teacher announced that we will finally get to actually work on a computer. Imagine the anticipation that all of us kids had at the time. So when the day arrived, the teacher brought in the computer - a BBC Micro. We were then made to stand in a line and take 2 minutes each to write a program in BASIC on the console and run it. So dutifully, I too did this and when I reached the computer, I quickly typed out the following code (I had practice in typing on my Dad's typewriter, so was fairly ok on the keyboard as well)
10 PRINT "VINOD IS A GOOD BOY ";
20 GOTO 10
I typed this out, ran it and quickly walked away. The kid behind me in the line stepped up to the console and all he could see was the text "VINOD IS A GOOD BOY " scrolling continuously on the screen in an endless loop. Thinking he had affected the computer in some mysterious way, he burst out crying!
It was then that it struck me - computers are pretty powerful machines and learning to control them to do what you want can be quite interesting - rather than being controlled or affected by them. Which is when I guess I decided to get into this line.
So, coming back to the present, the Microsoft RD alias is having a great discussion on how old everyone is. And I was instantly reminded of this thought that I had just recently. My 22 years of programming doesn't seem to be so great compared to many RDs' range and period of experience. I again feel humbled to be part of this great group - who very easily show me that my age and computer experience is just a drop in the ocean compared to most of them.