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winkleink
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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 10:20 am

Back in the 80\'s (yes another old guy) when I was playing with Vic-20\'s and C64s in Ireland I learned to program by writing games. Not so much typing in from magazines, but learning from my class mates and creating my own games.

I believe this is what created my passion for coding that for kids to really get the joy of coding, developing and tinkering they need to want to do it like I did. Writing a program to do an airline booking system or a system to catalog your music really isn\'t exciting.
For this reason I believe starting with game programming would be a great way to raise the excitement level to 11. It could also bring in the graphics and music lovers as this would be another way for them to create their art.

Now the Questions
Since the goal of the Raspberry Pi is to bring back the excitement and interest that existed in the 80s I was wondering what did you program when you started with computers and secondly are you still coding, either professionally or as a hobby?

Any suggestions on how to get kids excited about coding would also be welcome.

My answer:
Programmed games on a Vic-20 and C64 in BASIC and assembly. Permanently had a folder of graph paper for drawing new graphics.
I am not a professional developer or even in a technical role but the passion has stuck with me so I tinker with Arduino, web development in PHP and other techie stuff like writing a small program in Python for my kids in a few hours with no previous experience of Python.

[EDIT] I changed the Subject to better reflect the question.
More about what your first programs did rather than the language you used to program it.
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radu
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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 10:25 am

I started with Basic, then moved to Z80 ASM, then X86 ASM, then PHP and finally C. I also played with some PICs and they UGLY asm, and learned a but of ARM ASM, but my language of choice is C.

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 10:37 am

[quote]Quote from radu on November 22, 2011, 10:25
I started with Basic, then moved to Z80 ASM, then X86 ASM, then PHP and finally C. I also played with some PICs and they UGLY asm, and learned a but of ARM ASM, but my language of choice is C.[/quote]

Hi radu.
I think I phrased the question badly, sorry.
I was more wondering what programs you wrote rather than the languages. To try and understand how people here got hooked.
From your comment it looks like you have used many languages so the starting language may be less important than what you did with it that got you interested.
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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 10:59 am

My very first language was LOGO on the Nimbus 186 (this was about 1991). Our teacher basically sat us in front of RM Logo, showed us the basic set of commands and then gave us a hand out where we had to work through doing certain shapes. Square, Isosceles triangle, right angle triangle, circles. Then it went onto patterns like a repeating circle where you change the angle by 10 degrees every time, so we learnt about functions blocks and looping. Eventually we learnt how to do fractals using recursion. It was good since it was very visual and you could see the result of every command appear on the screen. I think you could use this technique to teach programming to all ages really :)

After that I ended up writing a lot of DOS batch files for automating various tasks on my computer. I wrote one which silently ran MSAV and then Scandisk as well as a few other utilities. I ran it about once a month or so. I did a lot of batch files for my mates too, stuff that would automatically unzip a shareware game onto their hard drive and run it for them.

I then got into Pascal and Borland C. The first thing I wrote on my own actually was a game where you had to race two text cursors from the left side of the screen to the right. It looked like this;

->
->

Player one can press Q or W to move theirs and player two uses O and P. So it’s like a track and field button basher game. Just a word of warning, we broke about four keyboards in one afternoon playing this – it can get really competitive!

I agree with what you’re saying though Winkleink. It’s much better to program in anger with a very clear objective that aims to achieve something you want to do – as opposed to some hypothetical made up scenario :)

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:00 am

Oh, sorry.
I started programming when I was 13, because I wanted to make computer games (like most kids). So I started with simple stuff first, drawing lines, etc. Eventually I moved to more complex things, like drawing 3d shapes, voxels, etc. I also liked to analyze viruses after I got my first PC (back in 1994).
I think that if you want to involve kids in programming it is best to start with visual stuff. Teaching them how to make a text editor might not be that fun :) But showing them how to make colors change on screen and stuff like that could be more entertaining.

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:01 am

I started in the 60\'s (!) with APL on IBMs - it was enormously powerful interpreted language but very costly to run. Processing scientific data and stats - very boring for youngsters. But in the 80\'s I bought a BBC micro and we programmed at home in BASIC and LOGO when my sons were aged 5 to 8 yrs probably. They didn\'t follow it up. But I went onto C which is my favourite now - it is quite forgiving, morethan my colleagues who ribbed me about making every variable a \'gobal\' one.

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:12 pm

Early 80\'s with an Apple ][, using Apple basic and small amounts of 6502 machine code. Then a friend lent me a home made UK101, Basic again, then I bought a BBC Micro Model A (soon upgraded to B),serial number 3336, and lots of BBC basic and 6502 assembler.

\'A\' level CompSci was spent writing Cobol and Fortran, some sort of Vax I think. A level project was on the BBC in Basic.

Kept BBC through university where is used it for assignments in Pascal, then started using the University Vax, Sun and Apple Macs for C.

Since then its been almost all PC\'s for embedded and desktop stuff, all C/C++.

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 12:50 pm

The first machine I played with was a Commodore Pet 4kB but then moved onto a ZX81 to programme in Basic. Did some Z80 assembler on it as well. I used it to some very basic modelling, I remember programming in Bernouille\'s (SP !) equation in and then getting to move a little black dot up and down the screen according to how much lift a wing experienced at various speeds.
Got to play with the schools RML 380Z, learning how to use CPM and program in Basic to do O level stuff. Then moved onto a RML480Z which I did \'A\' level on. Learnt Pascal and encountered COBOL (YUCK!). Did general programming and stuff on it.
I saved up for a second hand Apple //e that came with disk drives and a printer plus a few other cards. Really did some interesting stuff there, I remember doing a 3d plot of gravity curve which took about half an hour to create. This kept me going at University until my 3rd year when I bought an Amiga. The Amiga was great as I did some interesting DSP stuff on it. Learnt some 68k assembler which was fun.
After that I got a PC, rewrote my 3d curve program and it came down to 12 seconds ! My second PC did it instantly !

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:03 pm

Interesting. We have a mix of programming languages but from the first few it looks visual effects and games are the things that got people hooked.

It would be great to hear some more.
Remembering back in the day the others around me were coding funky stuff, so I expect there will be even more interesting programs.
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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:21 pm

I reckon you may also find a lot of people got into computers by using them to make music. Pro Tracker on the Amiga is one that springs to mind;
[img]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/e ... racker.gif[/img]

I never owned an Amiga... the first one I used was Scream Tracker 3 on the PC, followed by Impulse Tracker (there is now an open source version of this called Schism Tracker).
[img]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... beyond.gif[/img]

Using tracker software is almost a form of programming really.

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:23 pm

Uh.. I feel young. I started programming when I was 12 by learning C to make games for the ds. I had a flash drive and was able to load games on to a microSD card. The only project I really got done was a rubik\'s cube timer. After that I tried to make a platformer, but didn\'t get much done on that. Since then I\'ve learned Turing, Python, BASIC, C++, and javascript.

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:46 pm

Its a toss up, it was either Logo at school on what I assume was a BBC, I can\'t remember, I know later on we had A3000\'s but not that early. Or it was BASIC on my Spectrum, both were some time near the end of the 80s.

I then spent most of my time playing around with BASIC writing text adventure games, until I taught myself C in early 90s by hacking on MUDs and then writing my own MUD codebase.

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 1:57 pm

[quote]Quote from Davespice on November 22, 2011, 13:21
Using tracker software is almost a form of programming really.[/quote]

Completely agree and wouldn\'t it be great if music lovers found a home here was well.
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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 2:51 pm

[quote]Quote from winkleink on November 22, 2011, 13:57
[quote]Quote from Davespice on November 22, 2011, 13:21
Using tracker software is almost a form of programming really.[/quote]
Completely agree and wouldn\'t it be great if music lovers found a home here was well.[/quote]
That would be great. I am going to see if I can compile Schism Tracker for ARM and if successful I\'ll put the binary up for other Ras-Pi users to download. I just need to make sure that the Linux distro on the device supports SDL and it should work.

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 7:12 pm

I programmed an English Electric KDF-9 in 1970, using a pseudo-assmbler called MINI. The program bubble-sorted 5 numbers, but it didn\'t have any array support, so each comparison was hard-coded:
Compare A and B: if unsorted, swap them
Compare B and C, if unsorted, swap them and go back to compare A and B
etc...

My first \'real\' program was in FORTRAN on the same computer. It printed a page of log tables (and since I was doing A-level maths it may well have calculated them properly instead of just calling the relevant function).

Used FORTRAN for most of my professional life, but we moved onto Visual C++ when we dumped the VAXes and downgraded to Windows NT 3. Ended up doing admin-y things on an Oracle Applications database - SQL is sort of programming in its way.

Now I\'m at leisure and catching up with fun things that passed me by - Java, Perl, Cocoa - and wondering where to go with a RasPi.

Best computer I ever used (so far...) - a DECSystem 10.

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 8:06 pm

Hi,

I started on PET Commodore at 9 and my first program was in BASIC. The computer asked a secret number between 1 and 10 and once entered it cleared the screen and ask your friend to guess the secret number. That\'s how I learned PRINT, INPUT, IF THEN ELSE and variable storage. But I was lucky, I had a mentor, my father\'s friend was programmer.

The PET was not mine, after I got a CPC 6128 and there was color and floppy disk. So cool. But I must admit I programmed less with my Atari, Amiga and PC on windows than with my CPC or on the PET. Programming went back crazy when I removed windows and installed linux.

[quote]Quote from winkleink on November 22, 2011, 13:03
Interesting. We have a mix of programming languages but from the first few it looks visual effects and games are the things that got people hooked.
[/quote]

As you say, I liked to program video games and 3D programs. And I was so hooked I now work as programmer in visual effects. No BASIC anymore ;-) it\'s C++ and Python now. And I\'m pretty happy to be able to be paid to do what I like.

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 8:10 pm

My first program said \'Hello world\'. My second program converted Celsius to Fahrenheit

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 8:18 pm

BASIC, then Z80 assembler. I\'d written a bunch of home game programs, the first serious program I wrote was a Z80 disassembler. After that I went to C, C++, ML, a smattering of prolog, Perl and eventually made Java my bread and butter for a living. I\'ve started dusting off my C/C++ skills for raspi as I think that will be the most economical way to get horsepower out of the system without resorting to assembler.

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 8:22 pm

My first program didn\'t work.

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 8:38 pm

[quote]Quote from tufty on November 22, 2011, 20:22
My first program didn\'t work.[/quote]

And you did not give up. Kudos to you my friend :-)

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 8:39 pm

Excluding logo, the first program I can remember writing was a \'make-believe\' CD program in Java, when I took some lunch-time programming lessons from a CS graduate who\'d come to my high school to work as a network technician.

I have strong memories of being the first in my class to work out how to draw a circle in Logo, back at the age of 8. Three of the class were allowed to run some code on the Archimedes each day, but I worked it out a few days after my \'slot\' I got told off for giving my code to a friend to try!

P.S. I was using Logo in Welsh. It was all \'Ymlaen\', \'Ol\', PinFyny\', etc. I was ever so confused when we were tasked with using MSWLogo (in English) during an IT class in high school!

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 10:18 pm

Interesting about the circle. When the school got its Apple ][, the headmaster came in to the group of people crowded round and said make it draw a circle. About an hour later we still hadn\'t made it draw a circle, and the headmaster had legged it. (Anthony Melville, where are you now?)

The Apple ][ had no circle function so it was all sin/cos.

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:05 pm

My first programming language was TiBasic (on a calculator: http://education.ti.com/educationportal ... ti84p.html )... i started with some games like \"guess the number\" and some other stuff 6 years ago at the age of 9... Today i prefer Web-languages like HTML with CSS. Javascript etc.

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:44 pm

The first program that I can remember writing at school (i\'d written others at home and on the local university\'s computers but they that was so long ago i can\'t remember exactly what they were other than one was to test a modem i\'d built) was a Darts game on the high school\'s RML380Z. Used Bres77 for the circles and arcs. The first program I got graded on was a space invaders program in COBOL. It had lousy graphics though :) and the first program I got paid to write was an accounting suite (payroll, stock control, general ledger.....) initially in compiled BASIC and later rewritten in COBOL

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Re: What did your first programs do?

Tue Nov 22, 2011 11:59 pm

Anybody remember the Exidy Sorcerer? A family friend had one, and my brother and I got to borrow it for a few glorious weeks. We collaborated on programming, the first project as I recall was a robots game where you guide your character U,D,L,R on the screen to avoid the \"robots\" that converge on your location (using the Bresenham line drawing algorithm, one pixel at a time). I recall that we had to save the program on audio cassette tape which was pretty frustrating, it frequently refused to load in.

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