How I Got Started In Software Development

personal, code comments edit

It’s a quiet friday afternoon with all of our devs in training today, so I figured I’d take a breather and respond to this meme I’ve been tagged with by Simone, Keyvan, Steve and others.

How Old Were You When You Started Programming?

Have I even started really programming yet? I guess I got my first taste when I was around eight with my first computer, a TRS-80 Color Computer.

phil-with-trs-80

That sucker could display 9 colors, all at once, believe it or not. My programming experience back then was pretty minimal. My dad and I mostly spent hours typing in program listings from books, complete with pages of DATA lines consisting entirely of 0s and 1s. Pretty much typing by hand the equivalent of binary resources. I also wrote simple programs that would draw pictures and my dumb attempts at Zork-like text adventures.

How Did You Get Started In Programming?

Well I would write dumb little programs for my TRS-80, then Commodore 128, then Amiga. But I never wrote any programs of any significance till I took a C and C++ class in college. Even then, those programs were not “real world” programs, but simple assignments. It wasn’t till after college when I had to get a J-O-B that I learned how to really program.

And it was a rough start, writing the most knotty spaghetti ASP code in VBScript ever. It wasn’t till I read Code Complete that I realized that I wasn’t programming yet, I was barfing code.

What Was Your First Language?

English. My first programming language was BASIC for the TRS-80. My first professional language was VBScript. My first Object Oriented language was C++.

What Was The First Real Program You Wrote?

Man, I can barely remember that far back. All I remember was on my first day of my first programming job, a helpful consultant/coworker showing me the ropes. The main thing she taught me that day was when looping through a RecordSet, don’t forget the rs.MoveNext call, or else!

Around that time, I started working on a website for a company called MyLaunch.com which later became Launch.com which later got bought by Yahoo. That was the first large website I worked on and the place I had my first and worse major production bug ever. It was a lot of fun because I also signed up on the site and would interact with the other members, since it was a community music site.

What Languages Have You Used Since You Started Programming?

What is this? Some sort of interview? The programming languages I’ve used professionally are: BASIC, Visual Basic, VBScript, Java, J++, Ruby, C#.

What Was Your First Programming Gig?

As I mentioned before, it was right after college I got a job at a consulting firm named Sequoia Softworks in Seal Beach, CA. We had an office right on main street near the beach above some antique store or something. We later changed our name to Solien. They’re still around, but their site needs some love.

If You Knew Then What You Know Now, Would You Have Started Programming?

Well in between investing large sums of money in the right stocks and getting out at the right time, yes, absolutely! I love to write code and write about code.

If There is One Thing You Learned Along the Way That You Would Tell New Developers, What Would It Be?

Learn to write and communicate well. Software development is rich in ideas and being able to communicate your ideas well will get you places. And keep an open mind. Things you’re absolutely sure about now, you might not be so sure about tomorrow.

What's the Most Fun You've Ever Had ... Programming?

Hacking on Open Source projects such as Subtext. Recently, working on my IronRuby + MVC prototype has been a lot of fun. I find it fun to try out new things as well as making old things better.

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