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I started with...:

by davido (Cardinal)
on Apr 24, 2006 at 02:50 UTC ( #545185=poll: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Vote on this poll

Ten Fingers
[bar] 24/4%
Vacuum Tubes and Wire Jumpers
[bar] 9/1%
Machine Code
[bar] 15/2%
[bar] 24/4%
[bar] 6/1%
[bar] 23/4%
[bar] 51/8%
[bar] 1/0%
Basic (with line numbers)
[bar] 336/52%
[bar] 12/2%
[bar] 31/5%
[bar] 16/2%
Modern Basic (eg, Visual Basic, etc.)
[bar] 8/1%
Modula II
[bar] 1/0%
[bar] 43/7%
[bar] 8/1%
[bar] 6/1%
[bar] 0/0%
Other (please specify)
[bar] 31/5%
645 total votes
Replies are listed 'Best First'.
Re: I started with...:
by merlyn (Sage) on Apr 24, 2006 at 13:24 UTC
    My first program was written in FOCAL, although I never got to execute it. My dad brought home a bunch of books from a local computer electronics distributor in trade for some work my dad had done for him. They included the PDP-8 books, with the FOCAL programming language as one of them. I started reading this (at age 8), and after staring hard at it, I wrote a program to add or subtract a couple of numbers. I remember running in to my dad's workshop carrying a piece of paper saying "Dad, this is what I want to do!" and from there my entire career started.

    -- Randal L. Schwartz, Perl hacker
    Be sure to read my standard disclaimer if this is a reply.

Re: I started with...:
by Zaxo (Archbishop) on Apr 24, 2006 at 03:16 UTC

    Back in the day, I picked up an introduction to computing at the library and went through it. It was all register-level machine code for some unspecified machine, all worked out on paper. In college a few years later I learned Fortran and assembler for OS-360. Lo and behold, I recognized my old friend from the book.

    After Compline,

Re: I started with...:
by ciderpunx (Vicar) on Apr 24, 2006 at 11:02 UTC
Re: I started with...:
by BrowserUk (Patriarch) on Apr 24, 2006 at 05:57 UTC

    1971, TOPS-10 BASIC (BASIC-10) and BBCX.

    The latter was a pseudo-assembler, actually written in BASIC (by my teacher), as a part of the then experimental curriculum for the first computer science national certificate (CSE) to be taught in UK schools. I think the name reflected the idea that the course was going to be backed by a series of BBC "Programmes for Schools" radio broadcasts, but I don't recall ever hearing any of them.

    It simulated a processor that had 1 8-bit accumulator register, 1 flags register, a program counter and 32767 memory addresses. It had a fairly limited set of instructions:

    • GET n -- load the accumulator with the value stored in memory location n (or a constant).
    • PUT n -- store the value from the accumulator to memory location n (or a constant).
    • ADD n -- Add the value from m.l. n (or a constant) to the accumulator.
    • TST n -- Set the flags to reflect the result as if n (constant or memory) had been subtracted from the accumulator.
    • JMP n -- Set the program counter to n.
    • CALL n -- call the subroutine located at address n.
    • ... etc.

    It was a PIA to program, but very instructional. It certainly achieved it's aim of giving you a very good understanding of what was going on at the machine level. My first "big project" was to implement integer square root using the Newton method. It took me 3 weeks, though most of that was spent waiting for the twice weekly turnaround of coding sheets.

    Examine what is said, not who speaks -- Silence betokens consent -- Love the truth but pardon error.
    Lingua non convalesco, consenesco et abolesco. -- Rule 1 has a caveat! -- Who broke the cabal?
    "Science is about questioning the status quo. Questioning authority".
    In the absence of evidence, opinion is indistinguishable from prejudice.
      i also started with BBCX on an ASR33 linked to HATFIELD POLY 1972 , I Wrote a GOLF game in it as part of my CSE course, Then BASIC and on to Fortran. I'll never forget the noise and smell of hot oil of that teletype as i coded i was hooked.
Re: I started with...:
by Happy-the-monk (Canon) on Apr 24, 2006 at 07:50 UTC

    I see Lisp and Logo, but where's Lego in the poll? I guess it doesn't count. Old BASIC w/ line numbers then.

    Cheers, Sören

Re: I started with...:
by Scott7477 (Chaplain) on Apr 24, 2006 at 04:04 UTC
    My dad bought a Heathkit kit...basically it was a box with a few LED's on front. We both started out with machine code since that was all you could do. It had a Zilog Z-80...back in those days Byte magazine came with circuit diagrams. Then we got a TI 99-4/A..a huge step up. Graduating to cassette tape storage was huge:)...

    Update: I am installing Cygwin via a dial-up connection, and the progress message box reads "0.4 kb/s". If memory serves that equates to 400 baud. That's about the speed of the modem that I had with the TI-99/4:(

    Yet another update: First year CS program, the professor sits us down in front of Apple II's and says we need to write some 6502 assembler code. Blech!
Re: I started with...:
by ajt (Prior) on Apr 24, 2006 at 10:43 UTC
    1. Commodore V2 BASIC on a CBM-64.
    2. Assembly for the CBM 6510 (6502 clone) CPU.
    3. GW BASIC for the 286/386 era DOS PCs.
    4. Borland Turbo BASIC on 486/DOS PCs.
    5. Borland Turbo Pascal on 486/DOS PCs.
    6. Sun Pascal on SunOS Unix workstations.
    7. Borland Delphi on 586/Windows PCs.
    8. Perl on Linux/NT PCs.

      Turbo BASIC?? WTF.. Actually now that you mention it I might recall something about it.. never used it though, moved down the Turbo C 2.0 path.. :)
Re: I started with...:
by Old_Gray_Bear (Bishop) on Apr 24, 2006 at 16:58 UTC
    Like vkon, my first programming language was PL/I.

    The summer of 1969, I graduated with a BSci Physics/Mathematics degree and ended up working for a small firm in Detroit that makes automobiles. They were hiring translators -- people with enough hard science to be able to talk to the Engineers and Designers, and enough Maths to be able to hold their own with the Programming side. I did that for three months, and then transfered into the Programming unit, learned PL/I and the JCL (IBM's Job Control Language) to start and got into the Assembly language, so I could start to make sense out of the core-dumps. I have been sort of a language junkie ever since.

    The Languages that I remember writing production code in:

    1. PL/I
    2. Fortran (two versions for IBM, one for CDC)
    3. Assembly Language (IBM, CDC, mostly, with a little x36 lately)
    4. COBOL
    5. Faster & Hyper-Faster (You don't want to know. Really)
    6. RGP and other RPG-like things (DYL-360, Easytrieve)
    7. Java (hated it)
    8. Perl (loved it)
    9. UNIX Shell
    10. PHP (it's like Perl on tranquilizers)
    11. SQL

    Languages I've picked up but not written for-hire code in:

    • Lisp (Classical and Modern)
    • Basic (Classical and Modern)
    • C
    • C++
    • Pascal
    • Algol/Jovial
    • GPSS (General Purpose Simulation System)
    • SAS (The Statistical Analysis System)
    • SABRE (Yup, the Airline Reservation System; again, it's a long story)
    • JESS (Java Expert Shell System)
    • XML/XSLT
    • awk
    • sed
    • Unix Programmer's Tool Kit

    Languages I want to look at sometime:

    • Haskel
    • Prolog
    • Javascript
    • Scheme/Guile
    • AJAX

    I Go Back to Sleep, Now.


      Another person with experience in the world of IBM mainframes: the big iron. 3270 terminals without the ability to display lower case characters. SPF. CLISTs.

      And, of course, JCL. I've not been near JCL for about 5 years, and still suffer flashbacks involving extra or insufficient white space.....


      "Being forced to write comments actually improves code, because it is easier to fix a crock than to explain it. "
      —G. Steele
Re: I started with...:
by spiritway (Vicar) on Apr 24, 2006 at 05:02 UTC

    6502 assembly language. I had the most fun with that chip (on the Apple ][). A whopping 48 K of memory; if you were lucky, you had a 160 K floppy with DOS 3.3 on it (oh, and the drive). If you remembered to boot up from the floppy you could save your work; otherwise...

Re: I started with...:
by gube (Parson) on Apr 24, 2006 at 06:44 UTC
    I started my programming with Basic and C etc..from my college. And, for my job it starts with cool Perl.. ;)
Re: I started with...:
by Tomte (Priest) on Apr 24, 2006 at 09:29 UTC

    I started working with computers 1986 with Basic with line numbers quickly followed by 7501 assembler - we (my brother and I that is) - quickly also ditched the available graphic modes and used character based graphics via customized character-sets instead - those were the days - complete, weeklong holidays spent in a darkened room in front of a vintaged color-tv typing in programs pre-written on paper or, later, simply coding away...*sigh*

    I started programming with a valuable mixture of Eiffel and C 7 years later - deeply felt thanks to my teachers Robert Switzer (Eiffel) and Martin Lowes (C)...


    An intellectual is someone whose mind watches itself.
    -- Albert Camus

Re: I started with...:
by tinita (Parson) on Apr 24, 2006 at 09:10 UTC
    I started with... Miranda and 5 fingers.
    (after that Modula 2.)
Re: I started with...:
by zentara (Archbishop) on Apr 24, 2006 at 11:17 UTC
Re: I started with...:
by simon.proctor (Vicar) on Apr 24, 2006 at 09:09 UTC
    I first started on an Amiga so it was tinkering with AMOS basic followed by a little Blitz Basic. C came at University but I really didn't start programming till a year later.
      Yeah, AMOS for me too. Question is, did you select "Basic (with line numbers)" or "Modern Basic (eg, Visual Basic, etc.)"? It didn't have line numbers, but then again, it wasn't exactly Visual Basic.

      Me, I went for Modern Basic. The Amiga was way ahead of its time, after all. ;-)
Re: I started with...:
by swampyankee (Parson) on Apr 24, 2006 at 20:06 UTC

    I started with FORTRAN IV (on a Univac 1108) and IITRAN, which had, if I recall, exactly one other installation

    Nothing like punched cards to encourage terse code.

    fixed my markup


    "Being forced to write comments actually improves code, because it is easier to fix a crock than to explain it. "
    —G. Steele
      Wow, impressive, you're a "Real Programmer" from the elder tales! :)

        Not even vaguely close to the famous Mel, in either capability or age…

        I usually (but not entirely) avoided assembler and completely avoided machine code. Actually, the Univac 1108 wasn't a bad platform for the time: 48 bit arithmetic, an easy job control language, and the Univac dialect of Fortran didn't require character counting (the infamous "H" format) and actually rounded output, which was not universal.


        "Being forced to write comments actually improves code, because it is easier to fix a crock than to explain it. "
        —G. Steele
Re: I started with...:
by herveus (Prior) on Apr 24, 2006 at 11:49 UTC


Re: I started with...:
by rinceWind (Monsignor) on Apr 24, 2006 at 15:07 UTC

    Here are my early days:

    • 1974, started with Prime Basic (anyone remember Prime and Primos?).

    • 1976, one week summer course at ICL introducing Computer Education in Schools (CES), the CESIL assembler and #JBAS.

    • 1978, another one week summer course, this time at Leeds University. Learned Algol 60 for a DEC-10.

    • 1980, RSTS-E and BASIC-PLUS, together with Macro-11 on my school's PDP-11. My brother who was working for Digital, had a MicroPDP that I wrote a fair amount of code for.

    • 1982, Summer job before starting Uni. Worked as a FORTRAN programmer on VAX/VMS 2.7. This was my first job, and I'm still friendly with my ex-colleagues there.


    Oh Lord, won’t you burn me a Knoppix CD ?
    My friends all rate Windows, I must disagree.
    Your powers of persuasion will set them all free,
    So oh Lord, won’t you burn me a Knoppix CD ?
    (Missquoting Janis Joplin)

      Yep, worked with Primes from 1988 - 1995. Primos was another very nice o/s, pity it disappeared.



      Actually, thinking about it, that should be Pr1me and Pr1mos.
Re: I started with...:
by Paulster2 (Priest) on Apr 24, 2006 at 11:55 UTC

    Definitely BASIC. Probably like a lot of us, I wrote a simple loop program that printed out all of the combinations of a spin dial combination lock. I thought I was "Da Man". That was in 1980.



    .oO( If only I could think of something perlish to write.... )
      I thought everyone did the "jumping-jack man". I don't remember the exact syntax, but something like
      10 PRINT "\O/" 20 PRINT " | " 30 PRINT "/ \" 40 (clrscr or something) 50 PRINT " O " 60 PRINT "|||" 70 PRINT " | " 80 (clear screen again) 90 GOTO 10
Re: I started with...:
by adrianh (Chancellor) on Apr 24, 2006 at 13:30 UTC
    Z80 machine code typed in on a hex keypad on some educational "handheld" computer at school. Looked like an Owl for reasons best known to its creators. Can't for the life of me remember what it was called.

Re: I started with...:
by jdrago_999 (Hermit) on Apr 24, 2006 at 15:52 UTC
    Macromedia Flash 4.

    Screenshot here. Not really programming, but it was a gentle-enough introduction.

    Then JavaScript. Back in the days of writing one site for Internet Explorer on Windows, one for Netscape and another for Mac.

    JavaScript couldn't do everything I needed so since my server ran some kind of Linux it had Perl. Over time I learned a little bit here and a little bit there. It really is true what they say about learning to speak "baby talk" at first.

    I've since got a job with a mostly Microsoft-based dev shop but several parts of our product are written in Perl on Linux + Apache.
Re: I started with...:
by kudra (Vicar) on Apr 24, 2006 at 19:11 UTC
    Basic on an Apple ][+, age 11. My parents bought a computer and hired a high school student to teach me programming because the teacher at the high school refused to teach me.

    Then in high school I took a programming class: same teacher, still in Basic. He was awful and I already knew more than he taught in that class, so I quit.

    In college I messed around at the edges of programming, writing my reports in LaTeX and running Linux but still never really coding anything except some mangled C for a mud. Eventually I took a few CS classes (C++) and then worked briefly as a PHP programmer switching to Perl.

Re: I started with...:
by mk. (Friar) on Apr 24, 2006 at 14:39 UTC
    you know, i have this thing with languages starting with p.

Re: I started with...:
by japhy (Canon) on Apr 24, 2006 at 11:54 UTC
    I started with Commodore 64 BASIC, then played with LOGO and The Designer's Pencil (on the C64). Then eventually to QBASIC on the Tandy-1000. Then nothing until C++ freshman year of high school (which didn't go over so well, but it was a required class) followed swiftly and successfully by Perl.

    Jeff japhy Pinyan, P.L., P.M., P.O.D, X.S.: Perl, regex, and perl hacker
    How can we ever be the sold short or the cheated, we who for every service have long ago been overpaid? ~~ Meister Eckhart
Re: I started with...:
by iguanodon (Priest) on Apr 24, 2006 at 12:53 UTC
    RPL on an HP-48SX. Yep, a calculator. But that got me interested in programming, so I started taking night courses in C and C++. At the time my job wasn't programming but I wrote some stuff in C to automate some tedious tasks, mostly text munging. Then I found a $5 intro to Perl book in the bargain bin and realized how much extra work I'd been doing. Perl made me really enjoy programming, which led to a career change. Now my job is developing software though not as much in Perl as I'd like.

Re: I started with...:
by samizdat (Vicar) on Apr 24, 2006 at 13:25 UTC
    My first programming experience was a simple interpreted assembler-like language called STOP that ran on an IBM 360. It had some fascinating concepts like register-indirect addressing and the like, and I learned a lot from Mr. Good in that class about the layers of programming. We created punch card decks and they were run at night for us.

    When I bought my first computer, an Intel SDK-86 with an 8086 and 2Kx16 of SRAM, its monitor program and assembler felt quite comfortable. x86 segmented addressing is even more crazy than STOP was, but I gained a lot of confidence.

    Don Wilde
    "There's more than one level to any answer."
Re: I started with...:
by cdarke (Prior) on Apr 25, 2006 at 11:14 UTC
    A Bristol specific version of FORTRAN known as System C (1968). Then PLAN, GIN (George III), S3 and STAPLE, LISP, Turbo Pascal, C (what happened to 2-word descriptors?), a little Prolog (too much), C++, then Perl, which is when it all went a bit hazy...
Re: I started with...:
by vkon (Curate) on Apr 24, 2006 at 15:57 UTC
    pp: proc options(main); dcl a fixed(7,3); put list('dont remember now...'); end pp;
    update yeah, yeah, I misremembered, thanks pemungkah for pointing this out.
    fixed :)
      PUT LIST was your friend. (and PUT DATA; when debugging). Good Lord. I don't think those neurons have been activated in *years*. I switched to assembler as sson as I could, because it was easier to debug than big PL/I programs.
Re: I started with...:
by talexb (Chancellor) on Apr 24, 2006 at 21:58 UTC

    Really started programming with BASIC, back in 1973 while in Grade 10. It was a teletype hooked up via a 110 baud modem (yes, kids, 11 characters per second -- hold on to yer hats) to a monster mainframe somewhere at PSBGM headquarters.

    In CEGEP I fiddled with an HP 9810 Programmable Calculator that was hooked up to a plotter (hmm, what do I get if I plot sin theta against cos theta .. oh, duh). Naturally, it was an RPN machine. The HP 21C Programmable Calculator had just come out, and one of my classmates had one -- very, very cutting edge, and more RPN.

    Of course, once I made it to university I took FORTRAN and COBOL, work terms in assembler (some homegrown bit-slice processor -- if you've heard of AES/Lanier, it was one of those), then finally got into C in fourth year.

    After university it was back to assembler of the 6809 and 68000 flavour, then forwards again to C, then back to x86 assembler (TSRs and all that stuff), then a diversion to Pascal for a couple of jobs (ugh), C under OS/2's PM and finally Perl. Yay.

    Cool survey question.

    Alex / talexb / Toronto

    "Groklaw is the open-source mentality applied to legal research" ~ Linus Torvalds

Re: I started with...:
by wolfger (Deacon) on Apr 24, 2006 at 16:10 UTC

    What did I start on? I'm not sure I remember. It was either my 3rd grade math teacher's Atari 800, or my uncle's ZX-81 (later known as the Timex Sinclair 2000). I became a "hard core" programmer with my very own C-64 (which my dad technophobically was opposed to buying for me). Either way, I learned my chops in BASIC with line numbers. Later on, I was mildly freaked by the concept of programming without line numbers. I still can't quite grasp object-oriented stuff fully.

Re: I started with...:
by strat (Canon) on Apr 27, 2006 at 07:12 UTC

    When I was about 9 years old, the games of an Apple 2/c or the like became boring. Then I found a floppy disk with an introduction into Applesoft Basic. About one year later I bought my first computer book about applesoft basic and started hacking (making the computer games more or less difficult, writing own games like mastermind, ...). When I was about 13, my father bought a 286 with 20 MHz CPU, 1 MB RAM and 2x 20MB HDD!. Then I tried first GWBASIC, then Quickbasic, and with the latter my programs grew, I started prefering gosub to goto (I sold my first program when I was about 14 for about an apple and an egg)

    When I was about 16, I started with TurboPascal, and later at university, a professor tried to teach me professional programming. With the age of about 19 I started with C and with 22 with C++ and - since I liked Pascal very much - Delphi. With 24 I started with Java, but I thought it as a nice tool for creating GUIs, but nothing for a "real man" ;-)

    With 24 I had The First Contact with Perl (in 1997). A friend of mine had to write Perl/CGI-Scripts for his lessons and asked me for help "... because C looks quite the same...". Well, together we committed some perl crimes and got his script running somehow. I liked the string handling functionality, but this "language" was by far too dirty for me.

    In 1998 I applied for a summer vaccation at Siemens which needed someone to program perl scripts. Well ok, then let's do it (I needed money for a new computer)

    Equipped with "Learning Perl", "Programming Perl" and "Advanced Perl Programming" I started the job. My fist task was to convert a program to "use strict" (and somebody taught me -w and gave me a short intro into Regular Expressions). With use strict and -w Perl suddenly looked like a nice programming language, especially REs and - a little bit later - hashes. I read "Learning Perl" and "Programming Perl" until I nearly knew those books by heart.

    Since 1999, I'm a freelancer who writes his code about 90% in Perl (the rest are C and Tcl) and (since 2000) develops Metadirectories (very often with Workflows in Perl)

    Best regards,
    perl -e "s>>*F>e=>y)\*martinF)stronat)=>print,print v8."

Re: I started with...:Perl !!!
by Discipulus (Canon) on Apr 27, 2006 at 07:37 UTC
    Hi wise ol' programmers:

    2000-coming from historical study, starting to build up a linuxlab I started learn Perl to write an iptables script to route correctly all the PC on our net.

    2002-low level job in a ISP.. wow Perl is powerfull he can administer my job easely..

    2004-hosting web Win32: a big domain controlled by Perl.

    2008-my first 3D full Perl program

    2010-my perl robot

    2012-start teach Perl to my son..

    CIAO lor*
Re: I started with...:
by zerogeek (Monk) on Apr 27, 2006 at 09:17 UTC
    10 print "ACK!"
    20 goto 10
    30 end

    I remember copying the BASIC programs from some apple magazine that my dad got in our IIe. What a pain! I forgot all about basic!

    In reality, I would consider shell programming my starting point. Too bad that isn't on the list. Guess I have to read through all the comments to see what people are using that mark 'other'.

Re: I started with...:
by RavingGoat (Vicar) on Apr 24, 2006 at 13:37 UTC
    I started with basic as a kid but in college it was modula-2.
Re: I started with...:
by ruoso (Curate) on Apr 24, 2006 at 19:13 UTC

    MSX Basic first on a MSX Gradiente Expert (that was built in Brazil I think) and later with a MSX HotBit...

    I still remember using PLAY and SOUND to create musics and sound effects...

    UPDATE: WOW... There is it...

Re: I started with...:
by EvanK (Chaplain) on Apr 24, 2006 at 19:34 UTC
    I started out banging on some basic HTML, and from there learned Javascript, then Perl, then some compiled langs (C++, VB), even some Java.
    And i still use Perl more than any of them :)

    Build a man a fire, and he'll be warm for a day. Set a man on fire, and he'll be warm for the rest of his life.
    - Terry Pratchett

Re: I started with...:
by KPeter0314 (Deacon) on Apr 24, 2006 at 15:06 UTC
    As a twelve year old with a TRS-80 and the manual. can get it to do fun stuff like crash if you PUSH into system protected space!


Re: I started with...:
by lorn (Monk) on Apr 24, 2006 at 21:51 UTC

    z80 processors series! hehe i have a collection of old computer, :~ i love old stuff, somebody have perl 1.0? :P


Re: I started with...:
by poqui (Deacon) on Apr 25, 2006 at 02:59 UTC
    Aaaah... In highschool in 1979, the math and science departments had timeshare on the city's PDP1170, the Math department had a hardcopy teletype with a built in acoustic coupler (telephone handset attached to 2 rubber cups) that printed on wide accordion fold tractor fed paper. The Science department has the older ball teletype, but it was better because it had the tape punch/ reader that you could use to save your programs (we weren't allowed to store programs to disk).

    Later, the math department got some apple computers, and before I graduated, they got got in some of those Apple ][ computers.

    First programs were single pile nim, lunar lander, towers of hanoi, star trek. We started with basic, did a little Fortran.

    Then in college the computer science department was officially centered about Pascal; and we had a lab with hazeltine terminals, with the integrated keyboard/ CRT. The lab was *always* busy, too many students to too few terminals. So I wandered down the hall and found the card punch. I could punch my program, submit it through the "RJE" window, and get my results back before my friend could get all the way through the line into the terminal farm. The drawback was that the card reader, because it wasn't used that often, was notorious for eating cards, but my decks weren't *that* big.

    Then, after I was "invited" to attend a different school (my grades weren't good in anything but computer science and hard science courses); I went to DeVry in Phoenix, at their fledgling Computer Science program. We had 3270 Assembly, and RPG II, and Cobol. No card punch at DeVry, plus I could go to the lab and play with the new IBM AT PC's and the Micro Club's Altos computer, upon which I wrote my first resume in Wordstar, and saved it on an 8 inch floppy.

    In my first job post college I did MAPPER programming on the City's PDP, graduating to CICS (and writing screen maps in BMS assembly) and putting together the JCL for alot of programs.

    Nowadays I don't even mention at work that I know anything about mainframes...
Re: I started with...:
by xorl (Deacon) on Apr 24, 2006 at 18:33 UTC
    I got a TI99/4A just before the school would let us play with logo. I begged and begged my parents before I finally got the Extended Basic cartridge. I'm so glad I don't have to type call before every command now.
Re: I started with...:
by johngg (Canon) on Apr 28, 2006 at 18:32 UTC
    I started in 1977 programming FORTRAN on an ICL 1900 mainframe running GEORGE III, a brilliant o/s. Without exception everyone I have spoken to who used it says it is the best o/s they ever worked with. The mainframe was 250 miles from the office and we had a teletype and a 100 baud acoustic coupler, sort of like a modem but you dialed the computer with a normal phone and then put the handset into rubber cups on the coupler once the connection was made and it listened to and translated the funny noises.

    The mainframe had 128k words of memory and a word was four 6-bit "bytes" so there were no lower-case letters in the character set. Also, the numbers 0 to 9 were represented by 000000 to 001001 so their character was the same as their value. This caused me no end of confusion when I moved to ASCII machines.



      You'll be telling us next you used an abacus before that!
        No, a slide rule and log tables. Oh, and one of those Sinclair calculators where you had to use reverse Polish. I don't go back as far as some of the memories in this thread. What a fantastic trip down memory lane.
Re: I started with...:
by wazoox (Prior) on Apr 24, 2006 at 14:37 UTC
    Here's my list :=)
    • I began programming at school on Sharp PC-1251 pocket computers, in 1983.
    • I bought a casio PB-100 with the 1568 words memory extension (wow!) in 1985.
    • in 1986 I got my first real computer, a Sony HB75-F with 64KB+16KB of VRAM. I've learnt the real true Microsoft BASIC on it :)
    • in 1987 I got sick of basic, I've started some Z80 machine code but it was a bit tough, so I wrote a crude assembly in BASIC... ( I had exactly nil money to buy any programs)
    • in 1988 I did some TurboPascal at uni.
    • in 1989 I've got a Compaq Deskpro 386n with 2MB RAM, a 40MB hard drive and windows 3.0. I've done some x86 assembly with ... DEBUG :)
    • in 1991 I bought a portable Victor V86P (80C86, 640KB RAM) and programmed some stuff using GW-BASIC and QBASIC. It was a step back from the 386, but at least I could keep it with me and even run it on the road :)
    • in 1993 I've done some SCALA programming on an Amiga 1200 for a job. That was my very first computer-related job :)
    • in 1996 I had a Silicon graphics R5K Indy on my desk and I started programming Perl on it for some video automation. Why Perl ? Because the application examples were in Perl :)
      • update added the 1988 line I forgot...
Re: I started with...:
by blazar (Canon) on Apr 26, 2006 at 12:57 UTC

    Pascal, and indeed that is what I voted. It was at school, and it didn't last much.

    Now, laugh as much as you like: one language on which I spent quite a lot of time soon after, although in a particular environment, was my HP-28s RPN language, which actually I still like and consider interesting!

Re: I started with...:
by swampyankee (Parson) on Apr 24, 2006 at 21:09 UTC

    ...of course, shortly after starting with FORTRAN IV and IITRAN, I took a lab course involving analogue computers. No vacuum tubes – these were the 70's – but jumpers, potentiometers, and op amps. Programming involved correctly setting the potentiometers, plugging in the right jumpers to the right places, etc. Output was usually by a strip chart recorder.

    After all, it was a good way to solve problems involving ∂ and ∇ or even f(x) = x″ + ax′ + x


    "Being forced to write comments actually improves code, because it is easier to fix a crock than to explain it. "
    —G. Steele
Re: I started with...:
by hawtin (Prior) on Apr 24, 2006 at 22:38 UTC

    My first paid programming job was using 128bit microcode, debugging often required an oscilloscope. Thankfully I soon moved to Lisp and assembly.

Re: I started with...:
by LanceDeeply (Chaplain) on Apr 24, 2006 at 14:07 UTC
    Atari 2600 BASIC! I had to use these crazy controllers to type in whatever gobbledygook example code i could find. I eventually got upgraded to the Colecovision ADAM. That thing had a fullsize keyboard and a BASIC compiler that was compatible with Apple's. So i could swap code with all the Apple ][ hackersback in 7th grade!
Re: I started with...:
by Marza (Vicar) on Apr 24, 2006 at 18:37 UTC
    Basic with line numbers was where I started. Even remembered spending all that money for the MS Basic on the old mac 512 which just new. Thought I was getting something cool, opened the box and it was just a manual and a floppy. Said "This is IT??!?!?!"

    The first serious scripting I did was using TACL on the Tandems!

Re: I started with...:
by bschilli (Friar) on Apr 24, 2006 at 14:36 UTC
    Machine code on an IBM model from the 1960's. It put your quotient in a specific memory location. That's about all I remember about it. Ben
Re: I started with...:
by gam3 (Curate) on Apr 28, 2006 at 23:24 UTC
    Ten fingers! That seems very odd I only have 8 fingers. I guess that is why I like octal.
    -- gam3
    A picture is worth a thousand words, but takes 200K.
Re: I started with...:
by Moriarty (Abbot) on Apr 26, 2006 at 05:57 UTC

    I'm probably old enough to have started with vacuum tube and jumpers, but my first program was written in Extended BASIC Plus (you could use words for variable names instead of just 2 characters) on a DEC PD11/34 running RSTS/E.

Re: I started with...:
by Anonymous Monk on Apr 24, 2006 at 15:01 UTC
    I started with my digit - on, off, on, off, on, off, on, off, on, off...
Re: I started with...:
by jgamble (Pilgrim) on Apr 24, 2006 at 21:02 UTC

    ... a copy of Programming in BASIC, The Time-Sharing Language by Mario V. Farina. I got to practice my new-found knowledge in my high school, which had a time-share arrangement with ACTS Computer's system. On a Teletype terminal with a paper tape reader. I think this was around 1974.

    In college I worked in Pascal, Fortran, and CDC 65000 assembler, and did some self-study in C.

    Those Were The Days.

Re: I started with...:
by GrandFather (Saint) on May 01, 2006 at 01:33 UTC

    Actually I first programed on a desktop programable calculator. I really impressed the teacher by making it scroll digits around the display. She was impressed even though I was supposed to be studying maths at the time :).

    DWIM is Perl's answer to Gödel
Re: I started with...:
by mantadin (Beadle) on Apr 26, 2006 at 20:18 UTC
    Java (rather by accident and a lack of insight, falling prey to some sort of OO hype). Then I switched to C and C I enjoyed very very much.

    Later I was urged to do some things in C++, which I found interesting but never fell in love with :-) and later, since I had to do more sysape stuff, bash.

    Maybe it's good to learn a new language from time to time to get some inspiration and this is also fun ...

Re: I started with...:
by davidnicol (Acolyte) on Apr 24, 2006 at 16:58 UTC
    ten fingers, but in binary -- you can count to a thoushand and twenty-four!

    Had some books on computers when I was ten or so, discussing programming with switches, in Octal for the numbers, then was given a faculty-brat account at Indiana State on their CDC Cyber where I wrote an Eratosthenes's sieve in Fortran, (age 12) then assembed a ZX-81 (look ma, only four chips!) and started graphing complex polynomials.

Re: I started with...:
by ashokpj (Hermit) on Apr 24, 2006 at 13:57 UTC
    i started. 1. GWBasic 2. C 3. PERL
Re: I started with...:
by gregor42 (Parson) on Apr 24, 2006 at 18:30 UTC
    Punchcards & knitting needles...

    No, Really.

    Of course I did have an abacus in my crib. Does that count?

    Wait! This isn't a Parachute, this is a Backpack!
Re: I started with...:
by derby (Abbot) on Apr 25, 2006 at 17:36 UTC

    M204 and JCL ... what can i say ... I was young, ignorant and needed a job.


      I've heard of JCL (shudder), but what is M204?


      "Being forced to write comments actually improves code, because it is easier to fix a crock than to explain it. "
      —G. Steele

        Model 204 ... a DBMS for IBM mainframes. I'm not sure what the underlying tech was/is ... it definetly wasn't relational but it's a bit more than an inverted index. It was a decent solution for the day but was eventually replaced by less expensive RDBMS products.

Re: I started with...:
by Gavin (Archbishop) on Apr 26, 2006 at 19:59 UTC
    I started on C++ and that put me off for 3 years before I started learning VB which seemed to make more sense. How I wish I had started to learn Perl 10 years ago. I might have made it into the higher ranks by now!
Re: I started with...:
by exussum0 (Vicar) on Apr 26, 2006 at 21:36 UTC
    Basic on the good ol' commodore 64. My first freeware program was a calendar template printer. It was low quality. It was silly. But I was really REALLY young.
Re: I started with...:
by TedPride (Priest) on Apr 24, 2006 at 22:49 UTC
    My dad started me off with simple Basic programs on our Apple IIE.
Re: I started with...:
by Lexicon (Chaplain) on Apr 25, 2006 at 04:12 UTC
    The first CS class at The University of Texas used to be taught in Haskell. I'm not entirely sure why, but probably to start everyone off in the same place in a seriously formal language. That was my first serious programming experience and gave me severe doubts as to whether CS was for me. I of course made it through. Now I don't remember any of Haskell, though I'd like to check it out again and see what those monads were all about.
Re: I started with...:
by stonecolddevin (Parson) on Apr 27, 2006 at 17:07 UTC
    Lego Logo in 4th grade!!!
Re: I started with...:
by arkturuz (Curate) on Apr 25, 2006 at 10:01 UTC
    Back in 1993, after learning GW-BASIC in high school, I got QBasic and 'hacked' nibbles.bas that was shipped with it. I added speed increase/decrease at my will, and similar stuff for fun. :-)

    I printed all source-code and for days and hours I was dissecting it.

    Later on, I learned Pascal, C, some Mathematica and Maple, LaTeX, GnuPlot, HTML+CSS, JavaScript, Perl, PHP, some C++.

Re: I started with...:
by Trix606 (Monk) on Apr 28, 2006 at 00:24 UTC
    C-64 Basic and then Forth with a little cartridge that plugged into the C-64.
Re: I started with...:
by whatbear (Initiate) on Apr 28, 2006 at 02:38 UTC
    I got my start with ksh.
Re: I started with...:
by tweetiepooh (Hermit) on Apr 25, 2006 at 13:40 UTC
    At university I hacked around with B on a Honeywell mainframe running GCOS 4. It used 4 character words to build a string.

    Did some BBC Basic then moved to Clipper, xBase compiler on PC's.

    Perl seems to retain a lot of the "fun" that Clipper users had before CA bought it out and made it more suitey.

Re: I started with...:
by mikeock (Hermit) on Apr 24, 2006 at 14:36 UTC
    Mmmm. QBasic
Re: I started with...:
by songahji (Friar) on Apr 25, 2006 at 20:13 UTC
    I started with abacus, adding number and stuff. It's interesting how people come up with such device.

    Wikipedia Abacus

Re: I started with...:
by codeacrobat (Chaplain) on Apr 26, 2006 at 06:13 UTC
    When I was 7-8 years old I asked my dad for a nintendo gaming console. I am so happy he bought a C64. I've come a long way since these days.
    C64 Basic, QBasic, Turbo Pascal, Visual Basic, Miranda ( before university )
    Haskell, Java, C, C++, C#, Perl ( in / after university )
    Ruby, Lisp ( todo )
Re: I started with...:
by blue_cowdawg (Monsignor) on May 08, 2006 at 19:02 UTC
        "What a long and strange trip it has been"
        -- Greatful Dead

    I started my programming journey in 1972 programming in Dartmouth BASIC on a Honeywell 1648 Timeshare System that was connected to my High School via acoustic modems connected to ASR-33 teletypes.

    Under that system programming consisted of typing up your code on the teletype punching the code simultaneously on 7 level (7 bits!) paper tape and once you were sure(?) of you code, dialing the number for the timeshare system, listening for the tone and quickly putting the handset of the telephone into the cradle of the acousting modem, hitting the "break key" furiously until you got the login prompt, entering your (the school's actually) account number and password as prompted and then at the "READY" prompt entering something like create myprog.bas and hitting the carriage return. You'd then mount your paper tape and send your code over the ASR-33 teletype to the timeshare system and if you were lucky it wouldn't error out while you were uploading your code.

    Assuming you didn't error out before loading your code (and here my memory is fuzzy) you'd hit the break key again to signal you were done uploading code (or was it control-C?) and then try to run your program. If you'd coded it correctly you'd get your output from your program and things were cool. If not, you'd have to figure out without the help of any sort of debugger where things were going wrong and correct the problem with some subset of the steps above. It could take a long while to get what today would be a somewhat trivial program to work.

    The next step in my journey was the discovery that the timeshare system supported FORTRAN IV. At first I greeted this discovery with the thought that "hey! nobody can cheat on assignments by looking at my code!" since I didn't have to leave my source on the system and this thing called "object code" would be the only artifact left on the system after I deleted the source and you could only run that not see the underlying coding. I soon after discovered there were lots of other reasons to like compiled code and started to write all my programs in that including my first private use application. My first non-school related program took a ton of formulas that I found in some of my dad's books in his library and dimensions and other numerical descriptions of parts from the Estes model rocketry catalog and "fitted" them together and made a stab on the performance parameters (speed, altitude, time in flight, etc. etc.) based on best and worst case analysis. A pretty impressive project for a high school student if I do say so myself! :-)

    The next stop on my journey was when the administrative arm of my school got a Honeywell Series 50 computer. This big old clunker of a system was my introduction to card punch systems and was programmed in a subset of the COBOL. A wordy language if there ever was one. I didn't code very much what I would call useful stuff in that language because I could get the job done much easier in BASIC and easier still in FORTRAN so I didn't get too much in love with the language.

    The next stop on the journey was when my high school got a pair of PDP-8 computers. That was the year I was introduced to assembler language and boy did I have fun that year. I found that I could do evil things to my fellow students in only 8K of memory. Yes, I said 8K. When we upgraded to 16K later in the year you would have thought we had infinite memory the way we carried on.

    My true start as a computer hobbyist was after high school. Somewhere in my collection of memorabilia I have issue #1 volume #1 of Byte Magazine. With the advent of microprocessors and their availability to the general public a whole vista was opened up to me and lots of adventures mostly in assembler and sometimes in other languages on hardware that I built from scratch.

    Fast forward many many years and I end up as a contractor working for Bell Laboratories. Unix was my mainstay by then and as far as programming languages were concerned I was do quite a bit of C programming as well as shell scripting.

    Cruzing through the comp.unix.sources USENET group I found this curious collection of shar files posted by somebody named Larry Wall for this language I never heard of called Perl. That was in 1989 and life has never been the same since.

    Peter L. Berghold -- Unix Professional
    Peter -at- Berghold -dot- Net; AOL IM redcowdawg Yahoo IM: blue_cowdawg
Re: I started with...:
by bluto (Curate) on Apr 24, 2006 at 16:28 UTC
    I learned Basic from a quick reference chart and some computer game listings at a university lab my Dad was taking a class at (~1973). Wrote my first program (blackjack, what else?), and probably even saved it to paper tape. Sadness is trying to load a game from paper tape that took you a long time to write and realizing you probably shouldn't have folded it and put it in your pocket. :-)
Re: I started with...:
by sweetblood (Prior) on Apr 24, 2006 at 17:29 UTC
    A gleam in my father's eye


Re: I started with...:
by svetho (Beadle) on Apr 29, 2006 at 14:36 UTC
    Pascal for me, at school. Pity that I didn't keep my first programs, I'd love to have a look at them now :).
Re: I started with...:
by OfficeLinebacker (Chaplain) on Apr 28, 2006 at 22:04 UTC
    I think it was fourth or fifth grade.

    10 Print "OfficeLinebacker is awesome!!! "
    20 GOTO 10

Re: I started with...:
by Knom (Beadle) on May 01, 2006 at 00:54 UTC
    Circa 1980 - Michigan: My first *would* have been on a shiny new first gen TRaSh-80, except that due to the low computer/student ratio only high school seniors were allowed in the lab to use them. Instead, I vied for time on the shared computers in the library: at first only a teletype modem (ball type: folding paper output, not CRT display) connected via 300 baud (on a good day, 120 on a bad) to a HP-3000 at some local community college, and later a CBM Pet (green screen).

    Interestingly, on the teletype/HP-3000 we broke out of the vocational forecasting program for which the school had obtained it; then I located and ran a tutorial program for Basic in the HP-3000's OS. So it's accurate to state that I was taught computer language by a computer. Also, in a sense, the vocational identification program worked: since then my career has always been with computers.

    Update: By the time I was a sophomore, I was teaching seniors as the lab assistant. By the time I graduated, I was getting paid to assist instructing adult education courses after school (to rural farmers). :-)

    P.S. I miss playing Oregon Trail on the teletype, and Dungeon on the Pet... Need more bullets!!! :.(

Re: I started with...:
by mildside (Friar) on May 02, 2006 at 06:03 UTC
    BASIC on a TRS-80, soon to be followed by BBC BASIC on my much loved BBC model B. Those were the days...
Re: I started with...:
by prowler (Friar) on Apr 30, 2006 at 03:16 UTC

    BASIC on a Microbee Computer In A Book - I can remember generating a (fairly ordinary) picture of a butterfly for some competition (we didn't win), as well as playing around with the variables in Gorilla to get nuclear bananas.

     - Spelling is a demanding task that requies you full attention.

Re: I started with...:
by erix (Prior) on Jan 15, 2019 at 20:58 UTC

    68000 assembler, then C, then perl (and several of the others after that)

Re: I started with...:
by ambrus (Abbot) on May 13, 2006 at 14:36 UTC

    See also threads in My first computer was.... There are some nice nostalgic recollections there.

    Update: for the record, it was Basic with line numbers (GW-BASIC) for me (unless you count playing with LOGO).

Re: I started with...:
by jesuashok (Curate) on Apr 26, 2006 at 10:48 UTC

    Still I remember start of my carrier. Basically I have done my diploma. I don't hold any digree. but somehow I got a job in a small company.
    The first day when I went for a job, they have scheduled like I will be trained in C and Perl. I was totally scared because I hate C during my college days and I don't know anything about perl.
    But after completion of my training I feel very proud to myself that I have learnt very great giants in computer programming language. I am the top rank holder in C and perl of BrainBench Certification.
    Thanks for all of who has given this opportunity to share my career success.

    "Keep pouring your ideas"
      How could you hate C? I fell in love with it the moment I found it.. I have never felt that way about another language, although Perl has come close.

      There's a purity about C that I haven't found in any other language.. I can look at any line of C and have a pretty good feel for the assembler that will be generated underneath. Actually my understanding of assembler and C increased relatively hand-in-hand, I've always viewed them as complimentary languages.. like a macro-assembler almost done right (pity about #define and #ifdef and #endif.. brrr).

      Actually I think my understanding of C would be more limited as I truly don't understand the x86 processor any more. The feature set in the 386 really impressed me (protected mode, barrel shifter), but after that things just seemed to get beyond me (MMX, registers wider than 32 bit, I mean c'mon having EAX as well as the AH and AL registers was advanced enough wasn't it?).

      Thank goodness for microcontrollers.. we can get back to assembler with simpler processors and still feel like we're doing something useful..

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