Its funny when you look back how you got hooked into this whole thing.
When I was in my 3rd year at Secondary School early 1979, something, and I'm damned if I can remember exactly what triggered it, when picking my O-Level Options for the next two years, I picked Computer Studies alongside Technical Drawing – up to that point I wanted to be a Draughtsman. I think it was one the first years our Secondary School had laid on Computer Studies as an O-Level Subject and the teacher, well actually primarily he was a PE Teacher, had some kind of interest/training in Computers.
And off we went in September 1979 on the School Bus to the local Council Computer Department to see a REAL COMPUTER – big clunky Orange Mainframes with lots of winky lights and spinning reel-to-real tapes. Marvellous! And then we had a trip to the local College to see their REAL COMPUTERS – this was the place were we sent our CESIL (good god does anyone remember that language) coding sheets – there were a few teletypes and one, just one VDU (another barely used term), and I got lucky to have a go on the VDU!
By the winter of 1980 I think we had a couple of TRS80's at school on which most kids did their course work, but my dad had had a word with the people who worked in the building next door to where he worked – looking back it was some kind of data processing shop.
And so I was sneaked in one evening a week, to sit in the semi-darkness at a glowing green screen and type in and run my four BASIC programs for my course work. And so I got my Grade A at O-Level Computer Studies and that might have been it as our school had no A-Level Computer Studies Course. But in November 1981 my dad shelled out the princely sum of £70 for a ZX81, and as they say, the rest is history…
Footnote: Go to http://www.obelisk.demon.co.uk/cesil/
for an accurate description of how I first coded at school - I did the whole coding sheet, send it away, and browse your output the next week thing