History does not always repeat itself. Sometimes it just yells "Can't you remember anything I told you?" and lets fly with a club.
- John W. Cambell
I was born on Friday, September 12, 1975 in Chippewa Falls, WI. I was one of the last babies to be born in that hospital before it was converted into an apartment building...
MY HISTORY AS A COMPUTER PROGRAMMER
I have always been thrilled by the thought of how much power lies in the hands of computer programmers. The idea that I can make the computer do nearly anything that I want it to do, by writing programs, has always excited me.
I remember a day long ago (I was 12) when I thought something along the lines of "I'm going to remember this day a long time from now." I had just talked to one of my parents' friends about programming and had gotten all fired up about it. I had known that I was going to "go into computers" when I grew up, but I wasn't sure what I was going to do with them.
My parents had gotten our Apple //e about two years before (I was 10 or so) and I had read the manuals and written a few simple programs (I think my first program was one that printed my name on the screen an infinite number of times), but I hadn't really been sure if programming was something that I could do for a living.
However, all doubts left my mind that day. I went into the computer room of our house where the Apple //e sat on its computer desk, in all of its glorious wonder, and pulled out the manuals and started reading them again. I think that I wrote a program called "ICEBREAKER" sometime not too long after that day.
ICEBREAKER actually had nothing to do with starting up conversation at a get-together where no one knows anyone else... At the time I didn't know that definition of the word. I was metaphorically referring to breaking through ice. The program was sort of a game which requires that the player break codes (I can't remember what type of codes, but they couldn't have been all that complex) in order to get into someplace. As I recall, there really wasn't an ending. I think that it just said that you had broken through... Some day I'm going to have to get the code for ICEBREAKER and see what I wrote (it's hopefully still intact on a 5.25" floppy sitting in one of the disk boxes next to the Apple //e at my parents' home). When I get around to getting the code (next time I go home) I'll post it here for all to see. Wow... I'm already getting nostalgic.
In 1996 I wrote the winning essay for the Buhler Memorial Scholarship ($1000). It doesn't mention the day when I thought about how I was going to remember this day a long time from then (I didn't remember that day until after I had written the essay), but it does cover many other important memories and feelings that had to do with how and why I became a Computer Scientist.