Coffeehouse Thread

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Where did you get your start?

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  • User profile image
    pharmgrad

    I have frequented these forums for a while, and impressed with the amount of knowledge many of you exhibit.  As someone who is interested in learning more about programming, I am curious about your background.  Did some of you go to school and learn or just pick up programming through some events in life?

  • User profile image
    Charles

    Studied math and needed to write programs to "solve" complex problems. TurboPascal and C to start. Also, Mathematica and Fortran... Long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

     

    C

  • User profile image
    blowdart

    Charles said:

    Studied math and needed to write programs to "solve" complex problems. TurboPascal and C to start. Also, Mathematica and Fortran... Long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away...

     

    C

    You're old. Oh no, wait.

     

    So I started in school, at 11, when this thing could display blocks, BLOCKS! And an 8" floppy drive. And 16k. A whole 16k. The headmaster got lost past the 10 PRINT "Hello", so I got the manual and learnt and taught him and the class.

     

    Then learnt as I went, got a job at 19 as a tape monkey, and they let me install a Netware network, and then write some QuickBasic to print out barcodes on a laser printer that cost around £10k (well this was 1989), with data coming from an IBM mini.

     

    Blagged my way into a C job, taught myself C, C++, then VB, ASP, C# ...

     

    Only got a degree last year, after spending 6 years sitting one part time. And the next day my visa was approved.

  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    blowdart said:
    Charles said:
    *snip*

    You're old. Oh no, wait.

     

    So I started in school, at 11, when this thing could display blocks, BLOCKS! And an 8" floppy drive. And 16k. A whole 16k. The headmaster got lost past the 10 PRINT "Hello", so I got the manual and learnt and taught him and the class.

     

    Then learnt as I went, got a job at 19 as a tape monkey, and they let me install a Netware network, and then write some QuickBasic to print out barcodes on a laser printer that cost around £10k (well this was 1989), with data coming from an IBM mini.

     

    Blagged my way into a C job, taught myself C, C++, then VB, ASP, C# ...

     

    Only got a degree last year, after spending 6 years sitting one part time. And the next day my visa was approved.

    Started off copying out code listings from the back of magazines into the BBC Micro Model B that my dad bought the family.  Whilst studying biology I upgraded the BBC to an Atari and used a copy of GFA Basic to write a couple of simple simulations and number-crunch some simple statistics, before writing simulations in Pascal for my final year thesis under the guidance of Nick Barton, who impressed me with mathematics which I still don't understand.

    Did an MSc - this consisted of maths, statistics and computer science for biologists and ended up writing Windows software in Borland Turbo C++. I bought my first PC.

    Got my first contracting job off the back of my MSc thesis - Windows software interfacing to equipment through hand-crafted  serial port instruction parsers.

    Spend two years unemployed with nothing to do but learn programming on my PC.

    Got PhD writing simulations in C++ -- did a little contracting on the side -- read a LOT (found GoF when it came out).

    Got job in small (disorganised)  software company while writing up my PhD thesis, because the unemployment office made me.

    Moved to high quality iso2000 accredited 'scientific software' consultancy and learned how to do things properly.

    Now working for small slightly disorganised software company in the leisure industry -- quite happy here.

     

    Herbie

  • User profile image
    elmer

    I was interested in computers from my early school years, and I still have a book I borrowed from the library, showing details of how a computer works, including diagrams of the valves.

     

    First serious exposure however - University - writing fortran-66 statistics programs using a card-punch and batching them on a Sperry Univac.

     

    Woe is you who makes a mistake, as you'd get an error report that seemed to use half a box of 15" fan-fold paper.

     

    Worse still... dropping a card-set just when you've finished punching it up.

  • User profile image
    figuerres

    my start was due to the US Air Force in a funny way...

     

    in High school is sucked at math and just got past getting my diploma.

    when into the USAF and was an aircraft mechanic.

    there i saw maint. forms getting switched from paper logs to a log you sent in and was entered in a database

    if you used the wrong codes they did not like it.

    i understood what was happening and wound up helping a bunch of the senior NCO's fill out forms and that got me a tour of the data center at Job Control.

     

    when i left the service i bought a Commodore VIC-20 ( 3K of ram) and started with typing in listings from Compute! magazine.

    as time passed i was doing C and Assembly language and BASIC on a C=128 and taking classes at a local COmmunity Collage.

    by then i was teching the teachers half the time.... the first one to do a C programming course was a guyb who liked Pascal

    so i had to help him with C pointers.

    the Logic teacher was an old COBOL guy who did not know who wrote the Shell Sort and other stuff....

     

    Never did get a degree... started working to pay the bills.

     

    what i learned later is that it was not that i sucked at math in H.S. but that i was just to far ahead and somewhat of a problem with focus.

    i get to distracted and like to skip around to much in things i study.

     

    learning Basic and C i "got" how algebra workes and had guys with the degrees telling me i was doing calculas when i solved some problems... to me i just did what my gut told me to do.

     

     

  • User profile image
    wisemx

    Back in the 70's...design of Electronic circuits, the need for better emulators, one thing led to another.

  • User profile image
    Bass

    I've been interested in computers and how they could help change the world since an early age. I started programming Visual Basic when I was around 11. First programs I wrote were.. let just say they were somewhat "underground".

  • User profile image
    spivonious

    I was always interested in computers. I learned to read from playing Dragon's Keep on an Apple IIC. I wrote silly gameshow programs (Door #1, Door #2, Door #3) in AppleBasic, and later in QBasic on our shiny new 386. I routinely broke the PC after messing around with stuff too much. I got into building PCs when I was in high school. My first home-built machine was a Celeron 333A (overclocked to 450MHz) on a 440BX motherboard.

     

    My first formal education was junior year of high school when I took "Intro to C++". I continued on with "Advanced C++" the next year, and then went off and got a bachelor's degree in Computer Science (as well as one in Music, my other main interest).

     

    However, I'd have to say that I've learned the most at my job, since we never did any large projects in high school or college, and zero .NET stuff.

     

    I'm 28 now, so I guess I've been "into" computers for about 24 years.

  • User profile image
    Pace

    I was 10, making that damned turtle draw shapes... pretty soon I was getting in trouble for not copying from the sheet but bashing my own commands to make it write my name, draw a house, banana, whatever I could  Wink 

  • User profile image
    Ian2

    Pace said:

    I was 10, making that damned turtle draw shapes... pretty soon I was getting in trouble for not copying from the sheet but bashing my own commands to make it write my name, draw a house, banana, whatever I could  Wink 

    Spent way to much time 'programming' drum machines and synthesizers. 

  • User profile image
    Dr Herbie

    Ian2 said:
    Pace said:
    *snip*

    Spent way to much time 'programming' drum machines and synthesizers. 

    When I thought of you with a synthesiser, why did I immediately think Hot Chip?

    Tongue Out

     

    Herbie

  • User profile image
    Ian2

    Dr Herbie said:
    Ian2 said:
    *snip*

    When I thought of you with a synthesiser, why did I immediately think Hot Chip?

    Tongue Out

     

    Herbie

    Not sure what to make of that, but I'll choose to take it as a compliment. 

     

    One of these days I will have to make it to Glastonbury,

  • User profile image
    pharmgrad

    Thanks to those that have taken some time to share.  I was reading some of "Coders at Work" and it got me thinking of how people obtain their knowledge and hence I posted my question. 

  • User profile image
    PaoloM

    pharmgrad said:

    Thanks to those that have taken some time to share.  I was reading some of "Coders at Work" and it got me thinking of how people obtain their knowledge and hence I posted my question. 

    I was in the final year of my ship building course and we had to do a crapload of simple calculations to determine if a ship would float or just topple up when immersed in water.

     

    Simple calculations (take one number, square it, take the same number, cube it, take the same number, multiply it by a constant, etc) but a very large number of them. My fingers were hurting using my trusty TI-30 and I even built an external keyboard for it (I was qute into DIY electronics at the time).

     

    Then one of my friends showed up at school with a TI-59. Ooohhh... read the manual and figured out that I could actually write some simple programs to automate the whole process. From there, it was all downhill: wrote a "Star Wars canyon run" on paper for the VIC-20 (never actually implemented), got an Apple ][ Europlus and learned to program.

     

    One day, when I was already working as a clerk in a computer shop (named aptly "Computer Shop"), I went to pick up my dad from his job across the street. While I was waiting for him to be done, I sat behind a programmer finishing the implementation of an accounting system on the company's new IBM S/36. After half an hour, I said "Excuse me, sir? Was that a plus on the previous screen, while it was supposed to be a minus?". The guy turned around and said "Who are you?". I explained what I was doing there and he told me to stop by his office the day after for an interview.

     

    I got that job Smiley

  • User profile image
    elmer

    This is one of the most amazing "first programming job" examples that I've seen.

     

    This is part of a series, and video 5 of 5 about the computer/guidance/software system... just amazing stuff, and well worth the time.

     

  • User profile image
    CKurt

    elmer said:

    This is one of the most amazing "first programming job" examples that I've seen.

     

    This is part of a series, and video 5 of 5 about the computer/guidance/software system... just amazing stuff, and well worth the time.

     


    I’m a still student. I previously earned the Professional Bachelor in Electronics – ICT degree and am now studying to get my Masters degree anno 2011. I’m fascinated by technology and have been since I was young. Always wanted to be an electrician and as time went on it became clear that computers were where I would end up.

     

    At the age op 15 I really wanted to create a website of my own and dove into FrontPage to create something very basic. To get it it exactly as i wanted it drove me toward the code view and since then I never really got back to the visual designer. I dumped FrontPage and went head first ahead with editors like EditPlus and Notepad++. I went on and got into server side coding, the local website of the ‘scouts’ was my launch pad to learn php and get going.

     

    Later in the first years at KHBO i was introduced to client side programming. Java was the next step up. That same year the national website of that same scouts organisation (www.ksa.be) needed a major redesign. They were changing company appearances and everything had be integrated into this new site. 6 Regional Belgian site’s had to be includes into one national website containing all the information. Together with a team of 3 people we volunteered and created the current website. A great learning experience, we put our heads together and created a decent architecture to build the rich data structure on top. At was at the same time i started working with JavaScript libraries to do animations and AJAX transitions. I never really liked Action script and flash.

     

    Don't know what my first job experience will be but i'm looking forward to it !

  • User profile image
    figuerres

    CKurt said:
    elmer said:
    *snip*


    I’m a still student. I previously earned the Professional Bachelor in Electronics – ICT degree and am now studying to get my Masters degree anno 2011. I’m fascinated by technology and have been since I was young. Always wanted to be an electrician and as time went on it became clear that computers were where I would end up.

     

    At the age op 15 I really wanted to create a website of my own and dove into FrontPage to create something very basic. To get it it exactly as i wanted it drove me toward the code view and since then I never really got back to the visual designer. I dumped FrontPage and went head first ahead with editors like EditPlus and Notepad++. I went on and got into server side coding, the local website of the ‘scouts’ was my launch pad to learn php and get going.

     

    Later in the first years at KHBO i was introduced to client side programming. Java was the next step up. That same year the national website of that same scouts organisation (www.ksa.be) needed a major redesign. They were changing company appearances and everything had be integrated into this new site. 6 Regional Belgian site’s had to be includes into one national website containing all the information. Together with a team of 3 people we volunteered and created the current website. A great learning experience, we put our heads together and created a decent architecture to build the rich data structure on top. At was at the same time i started working with JavaScript libraries to do animations and AJAX transitions. I never really liked Action script and flash.

     

    Don't know what my first job experience will be but i'm looking forward to it !

    CKurt and the OP and others....

     

    in this area we are *ALL* students  this is one of things that keeps me going in programming is the "Computer Science" of it and the evolving state of the art and the "Art and Craft" of systems and UI and networking etc....

     

    there are some things that are boring and not going to change but there is a huge amount of ongoing stuff that we can keep learning about.

     

    for me right now it's  WPF and SIlverlight and EF 4.0

    seeing what i can do with them to make better UI and better data code.

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