Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How did I get started on computers and programming?

In response to Scott Hanselman's post, I decided to tell my story. I would love to hear your story, too.

Pravetz 8
I first touched a computer when I was 5th grade in the elementary school. There was this class called "Computers" that everyone could see and use a computer. The computers were Pravetz 8 machines and there were very little thing you can do with them. I just tried typing on the keyboard, since there were nobody who can show us how to use the computer - I was deeply disappointed. There were also six or seven Macintosh machines that we weren't allowed to touch, because they were too expensive.

Several years after that in the secondary school, a schoolmate of mine told me that he know how to make websites. I got very excited and he land me a booк called "DHTML in action". This was one of the very few books translated in Bulgarian back then. I started reading and become really passionate about web design, html and so on. I was surprised that by typing words, I can add colors, change fonts, show images, make things move around. When I get to the JavaScript part, everything get almost magical - repeating some stuff several times, writing conditional expressions - I felt like being in Alice's Wonderland.

Unfortunately, I didn't have a computer at home. I had to go to Game clubs (they were very popular then) and pay for hour to write html pages and exercise what I read. It was pretty strange, since all the people around me were playing Counter Strike, Unreal Tournament, chatting in mIRC, etc. It was difficult to do what I wanted because, gaming clubs used to have shell around the Windows OS in order to prevent damaging the machines and this really limited my experience. I was amazed to find a website in Bulgarian for web design - Groove Manifesto and this quickly get one of my favourite resources in the net.

One night several months later, me and my brother asked for a PC as a Christmas gift from our parents. Those days a decent PC configuration costed around $700 which was a little fortune here in Bulgaria and not many people were able to afford it. Still, I did a very compelling speech in front them, about how this is going to be my profession one day and that I really need the computer to work and learn, instead of playing games and fooling around. So, this did the trick and we got our first computer.

We were really really happy boys! I remember that we had 32MB NVidia video card, which was the best you could get. Almost immediately, we got a dialup internet which was as well quite a luxury. The first thing I did after connecting, was to download a mp3 - No Leaf Clover by Metallica (yeah!). This PC is still working after several upgrades and I actively used it as a complimentary PC for various stuff until a couple of years.

I started reading and practising even more. I bought a book about C and after that another one about C++ and started writing my first programs using DevC++ compiler. I recall my hard times understanding what an object means and what the h*ll should I do with it. The rest is history - I attended some high school competitions, made my first very lame sites and decided to study informatics in the university.

So, the end of my story should be - Thanks mom and dad  for getting me my first computer and thus making me a programmer! I know that this was the most expensive present I will have (and not only for the money).

I would love to read your story, too so feel free to use the comments form or post a link to your blog post.