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How I Got Into Computers

Nathan Torkington invite people to recount how they became hackers as an inpiration for new generations. I have taken this chance to write my own. It is reposted below.

How did I get into computer programming? I pride myself being a teen computer science theorist. Long before I've touched a real computer, I have already learned a whole lot of Basic programming by reading computer magazines in public library. My first program is really on a Casio programmable calculator. It has a macro function, a random number generator and a conditional branching command. With those I have build a Blackjack game. Later my friend got a Casio pocket computer PB-100. He generously lent me this new toy several days at a time. PB-100 has a great feature that it supports the spade, diamond, heart and club characters. So I got to build a number of card games using Basic.

Then my friend invited me to his home to use his Apple II. By then I have already learned everything about 6502 machine code. I decided my first program should be an assembler. I coded all the machine code on paper and brought it to my friend's home for a trial. After an entire afternoon of debugging it went no where. This became my first abandoned project. Eventually my parents gave in and bought me an Apple II. I have to confess that most of these came from the thriving pirate computer industry at that time. I got to read the pirated Apple reference manual translated into Chinese. It includes the source code of Woz' Basic ROM. That piece of software was really an enlightenment for me.

In time I moved up to Turbo Pascal, 300 baud modem and so on. I was steps ahead of other when I started CS in college.

2005.11.21 [, ] - comments



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