How I got started programming

  1. How old were you when you started programming?By the time I really got into computers around age 12 or 13 my parents old Tandy 3000 wasn’t quite up to date compared to the 386’s and 486’s most of my friends had. I really truly started coding in TI-BASIC on my TI-85. I created all sorts of games, programs and such, which I’d then trade and sell to other kids at school. Around age 16 I bought a custom built machine from a local computer shop. A Cyrix 133 with 16MB of RAM, which I soon upgraded to a Cyrix 200 with 40MB of RAM. It wasn’t long after this that I started coding IRC bots for mIRC and HTML on my Geocities website.My first true coding experience didn’t really come until I started college where I was introduced to PHP by my friend Paul Barton. It was love at first site and the rest is, as they say, history.
  2. How did you get started in programming?I really started in college, but I’m sure there was some BASIC and VB stuff for office here and there before that. My first programs were written in TI-BASIC and ASM for the TI-85. 
  3. What was your first language?TI-BASIC for the TI-85 calculator is the first programming language I really sunk my teeth into. What a nightmare. 
  4. What was the first real program you wrote?Depends on how you define this I suppose. The first program that I wrote that had any use to me was a program that would figure out math equations for my algebra and statistics classes that would show each step of work as it solved the equation. That’s also the first program I wrote that I made money from as there were quite a few students interested in it.
  5. What languages have you used since you started programming?I guess that depends on what you mean by “used”. I’ve written substantial lines of code in C/C++, PHP, Python, Perl, ASM, BASIC, TI-BASIC, JavaScript and BASH. I’ve also done quite a bit of work in COBOL and MFC.
  6. What was your first professional programming gig?My first paid gig was working on the website for Affordable Computers in Ann Arbor, MI. I’d say my first run at the “big show” was for in 2000. 
  7. If there is one thing you learned along the way that you would tell new developers, what would it be?Break stuff. Break everything. Poke, prod and explore. Don’t listen to people who tell you that you can’t do something or that you’re wasting your time. More practical advice is that you should learn to know and love design patterns and avoid GUI’s. I have a real problem with people who say they know SQL because they’re well versed with an ORM or a DB’s GUI. Go back and read up on relational algebra and SQL92 before you say you know SQL okay?I’ll probably get flamed for this, but I think people should learn a single environment in and out and stick with it. This might mean you learn Microsoft’s technologies in and out or Cocoa or LAMP. You simply can’t be an expert in an area of computers without picking a single environment and sticking with it. Dabble, sure, but pick a horse and learn everything you can about it.If you choose UNIX read one man page a day until you’ve read all of the GNU utilities’ man pages. You’re not a true UNIX geek unless you’ve typed man man at once point in your life.
  8. What’s the most fun you’ve ever had programming?Oh, I don’t even know where to start. Hacking on PHP3 back in my dorm room, working with Jeremy and Seth on Care2 late into the night, building eNotes’ infrastructure from the ground up and building large scale systems with Ron and Matt at Digg to name just a few.

This absurd entry was spurred on by Erik Kastner. I’m going to give him a noogie next time I see him for this. Because I hate chain posts like this I won’t be tagging anyone as it after this, but if you do carry this on please trackback this post so I can read and reminisce with you.