Tue, 14 Apr 2015
This week I introduced myself to Recurse Center, where I will be in residence later this month, and mentioned:
Ms. Nikki Bee said she wanted to hear more. Once I got started I had trouble stopping.
I got interested in programming from watching my mom do it. I first programmed before video terminals were common. I still remember the smell of the greasy paper and the terminal's lubricating oil. When you typed control-G, the ASCII BEL character, a little metal hammer hit an actual metal bell that went "ding!".
I remember when there was a dedicated computer just for word processing; that's all it did. I remember when hard disks were the size of washing machines. I remember when you could buy magnetic cores on Canal Street, not far from where Recurse Center is now. Computer memory is still sometimes called “core”, and on Unix your program still dumps a core file if it segfaults. I've worked with programmers who were debugging core dumps printed on greenbar paper, although I've never had to do it myself.
I frequented dialup
there was an Internet. I remember when the domain name system was
rolled out. Until then email addresses looked like
I complained to Laurence Canter after he and his wife perpetrated the first large scale commercial spamming of the Internet. He replied:
which is the same excuse used by every spammer since.
I once worked with Ted Nelson.
I remember when Sun decided they would start charging extra to ship C compilers with their hardware, and how the whole Internet got together to fund an improved version of the GNU C compiler that would be be free and much better than the old Sun compiler ever was.
I remember when NCSA had a web page, updated daily, called “What's New on the World Wide Web”. I think I was the first person to have a guest book page on the Web. I remember the great land rush of 1996 when every company woke up at the same time and realized it needed a web site.
I remember when if you were going to speak at a conference, you would mail a paper copy of your slides to the conference people a month before so they could print it into books to hand out to the attendees. Then you would photocopy the slides onto plastic sheets so you could display them on the projector when you got there. God help you if you spilled the stack of plastic right before the talk.
tl;dr i've been around a while.
However, I have never programmed in COBOL.
[ Addendum 20150609: I'm so old, I once attended a meeting at which Adobe was pitching their new portable document format. ]
(I'm not actually very old, but I got started very young.)