One day my Dad brought home an Apple ][+ and we set it up on a table in the basement. Up to this point I had messed around with a simple “digital” electric kit from Radio Shack and tinkered with a programmable TI calculator so I was pretty intrigued by the Apple. I also had seen the computer terminal in school, that somehow accessed a computer somewhere and did something. One student had written a “war game” program so every once in a while there would be a sheet of paper in the terminal with some kind of symbolic map not unlike an Avalon Hill board game. It was 1977 and my Dad worked at IBM in midsized computers and recognized the future of the PC and bought the Apple as soon as he could from the little computer across the street from IBM. Ahead of his time.

I had an affinity for electronics as a kid. I remember playing that Mattel football game, and I had a Science Fair kit that taught me the basics electronics and logic. Then I had a TI-58 programmable calculator and learned how to do some simple algorithms with that.

The computer though was a whole new ballgame. And I watched excitedly as my Dad assembled the computer – only to have a puff of smoke come out of one of the disk drives! Arg! I’d have to wait until tomorrow.

I latched right onto the computer and spent a lot of time in the basement. I learned 6502 ASM from magazines and other programs and wrote my first programs. I discovered Monitor Mode and dove in under the hood – the command line behind the command line. High School soon bought a few TRS-80s and many a study hall and lunch were spent glued to one of those.

Eventually I took a class and learned PASCAL, and then BASIC from a book. Suddenly, it was time to go to college where I learned C, SETL, data structures, compiler construction (which at the time was using LEX and YACC, oh so primitive!), and operating systems using an early Minix textbook. By the end of college I had my own computer – a Z-100 which ran either CP/M or DOS. Z for Zenith, and 100 after the S-100 buss. Someone at school wrote a word processor, so by 1985 everyone at school was saving their papers on floppy disks.

C is still my favorite language. Given that ASM was my first impression of programming, it makes sense. C is really just a fancy ASM. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly appreciate high level languages and OOP! I’ve written more code in Swift than anything else, with C++ in 2nd place and C reserved for a few select projects, like embedded systems.