This is a new one for me, I've been tagged by Ben Hall to follow up on this 'meme' that's doing the rounds. Thanks Ben!
How old were you when you first started in programming?
I was probably 13 years old when I was given a book on BASIC programming. It was a spiral bound, hand written introduction. I wish I could find a reference to it on Google because I remember it as being an excellent tutorial for novice programmers. I spent months hand writing BASIC programs and executing them manually before my parents relented and bought me a TRS-80. I really really wanted an Apple II, but they were far too expensive at the time, three or four times as much as the 'trash 80'. The cassette tape based storage thingy never worked which meant that I would write a program, execute it and then start all over again the next time I turned the machine on. My best effort was probably a space landing game which incorporated Newton's laws of motion. You had to use trusters to land a lunar module on the only flat piece of ground the 'moon'. I'd grown up with the Apollo moon shots and was totally obsessed with space at the time.
What was your first programming language?
BASIC, see above.
What was the first real program you wrote?
Ah ha, I see I've answered all the questions already!
What languages have you used since you started programming?
As a teenager it was pretty much TRS-80 BASIC, but I also studied COBOL for Computer Science 'A' level. I had a friend who could write Z-80 machine code straight from his head which I was very impressed with, but I never managed more than making the screen flicker myself.
What was your first professional programming gig?
After being obsessed with programming in my early teens, I abandoned it for the electric guitar. Yes, I was seduced by Rock. I spent the next few years playing in several no-hope bands and backpacking around the world. I was only after doing a degree in Development Studies and working as an English teacher in Japan for two years that I rediscovered computers and found that I still got a huge kick out of programming. I went back to college and did an IT masters degree and then got my first professional programming gig with a small company called SD Partners. It was a great 'in the deep end' experience and I got to write several VB/SQL Server client-server systems in the two years that I was with them.
If you knew then what you know now, would you have started programming?
Oh yes, without a doubt. In fact I wouldn't have stopped for ten years.
If there is one thing you learned along the way that you would tell new developers, what would it be?
There's an art to programming that goes beyond the tools. I didn't really discover this until five years into my professional programming career when I read Agile Software Development by Bob Martin. That book changed my life and it didn't mention a single Microsoft tool that I was currently using. Languages, Frameworks and APIs come and go, but patterns and principles of good software engineering stay around for a lot longer. Concentrate on those.
What's the most fun you've ever had programming?
It's when you discover a great abstraction, one that suddenly turns hundreds of lines of hackery into a beautiful extensible structure. That doesn't happen enough for me, but when it does I go home after work on cloud nine.
Recently I've really enjoyed creating Suteki Shop. As a hired-gun developer I rarely get to do things exactly as I want so it was really nice being able to build a show case of exactly how I think an application should be written. The problem is, 3 months later, I've totally changed my mind :P
Who am I calling out?