Despite the fact that there are plenty of free languages and development tools available online, there is still a much larger barrier to entry for someone who wants to get started as a programmer compared to nearly 30 years ago. I have fond memories of the computing of the 80s so I thought I’d take a quick trip down memory lane and write about my personal exerience of becoming a programmer. It may also be of interest to those familiar only with the Silicon Valley version of the history of computing since this covers events from the other side of the pond in the UK. When historians talk about the history of computing, they really only cover things like the TRS80, Altair and rise of the PC and Mac, yet there were many important and competitive developments in Europe that are often not included as part of this history.
For most of us, as programmers, we are a pretty lucky bunch. We get paid handsomely (or at least nicely) for doing something which we enjoy, will never go out of fashion and provides a great deal of benefit to the companies we do it for, if not the world at large. While we may not be working in the IT fields we want to be working in or for the companies we want to be working for, we still get to enjoy the process of writing code on a daily basis for a living.
One blog topic that never seems to get old is what makes a good programmer, or how to be a good programmer, or what you can do to be a better programmer. The same activities are often listed as being the path to successful codesmithing, when really it is just the method by which the true magic happens. With programming, like many things, it isn’t what you do, it’s what you learn from it and the only key ingredient to being a good programmer (besides practice) is exposure to programming. Exposure comes in many forms, whether it is through hands-on practice or looking at someone elses code. Here’s a few of typical examples given and how it exposes us to programming.