When I was around 10 years old I has access to a unix machine via a 300 baud modem and a vt100 terminal. I used it to play early games like adventure and larn. Later I had access to a PC XT and used it for writing reports. Then in high school I had access to a BBC micro and learned some basic programming, spread sheets, databases etc. Around this time I also discovered Borland Pascal 3.0 for the PC and started writing simple games. Then I got an Amiga 500. There was a lot of really cool shareware for the Amiga including a C compiler and editor. Then it was off to university where the predominant system was Sun Solaris and the programming language was Ada. The Amiga ROM kernel manuals were exciting to read around this time. Along the way there were interesting experiments with various Borland products which in many ways were ahead of their time but lost out to other platforms. Then linux came on the scene and it was all C++ and linux. Then Java started getting more popular, the initial versions of Java were pretty bad, but the garbage collectors got better and dynamic inlining got added and it became faster. Then eclipse and their ilk came on the scene and Java became the language of choice. Along the way I tried ruby and ocaml, but each is rather deficient in its own way.
People are now searching for new programming languages that are more productive but they still fall into the old molds of either strong static typing or dynamic typing with neither side being able to subsume the other. It's hard for new systems to beat Eclipse's code navigation and refactoring tools, or the quality and coverage of Java's libraries. Hense I guess the interest in new language that run on the JVM.
I maintained an interest in Smalltalk but each time I tried to get into Squeak it was too alien a world for me. It also seemed that the system was permeated with global variables which are bad (globals are bad ok). Stuff like "5 print." really irks me. It should be "stream print: 5." I liked the arguments around newspeak but it's built on Squeak and Squeak has a lot of dodgy stuff in it.
After being abstracted for so long from the machine I became interested in (with having much time to devote to the interest) operating systems and machine level programming. Partly sparked by Elliot Miranda's work on Cog and also sparked by the Self project (which Elliot talks about very eloquently here http://video.google.com/videop.....06068209
). After looking at the PC's I became rather disgusted with the amount of cruft that is stuffed into a modern PC not to mention the nastiness of the instruction set. Then I discovered ARM architectures and decided that is what I should spend my scarse time away from work and family on.
I wrote an experimental programming language https://github.com/richcole/RJL
Looking forward to the release of the Raspberry Pi and in the mean time awaiting the delivery of a Beagle Bone (which is slowly and inexorably making its way by truck across the US to me). Hopefully the Beagle Bone experience and code translate reasonably well to the Pi.
I guess like many I'm also interested in the OpenGL library that comes with the Pi. But like many devices including nvidia and radeon it seems the OpenGL library will be closed source. It doesn't matter much since I'm already well spoilt for choice when it comes to things to learn and play with.
There is so much excitement around the Pi that I think it can do for kids today what the Amiga 500 did for kids in my day. Having the graphics capability will initially attract kids to the games, and then they ask, how can I modify that game or make a game of my own, and then they're into programming or game art or game design.