I have found it really interesting to learn the background of some of the great programmers in the world and for those in the mid 30s, like me, many seem to have started on the Timex Sinclair 1000. Oh the many hours I spent trying to get programs written on it back in 6th grade.
The computer was a gift from my cousin in Los Angeles for Christmas in 1982. My grandparents gave me my first television, a 12" or 13" black and white if I remember correctly. That television served such a big purpose in my adult life that year. Not only did I use it as my monitor for my Timex Sinclair, but I also watched the bulk of the 1983 NCAA tournament and this scrappy team from NC State.
Well I eventually moved from that small town in Texas, Cleburne (Go Jackets!), to eventually land in North Carolina. Yes, I went on to earn an undergrad and masters from NC State and even lettered in football too. But the path really started taking hold Christmas of 1982 with my Timex and that TV.
My cousin set me up right too. She not only got me the mostly self contained computer, but she also got me the 16KB RAM booster that took me up to a whopping 64KB of ram. I used a cheap cassette recorder to store my applications, and I remember even having a few that we bought.
It was not an easy beast for me to tame at the time. Mostly because the quality of the cassette recording was less than optimal to say the least. But I pressed on anyway. I remember one of my first applications was a starfield simulation that might be confused for a sad snow storm on the screen. I eventually got good enough to create a crude game of Breakout as my crowning accomplishment.
I even remember what led up to my family deciding to buy me the Timex instead of an Atari, or even an Intellivision that many of my friends were getting. I had some very special teachers at J.N. Long elementary, one in particular, Martha Cole. She was my Challenge class teacher and her task was to get me and the other students to really use our minds and stretch how we thought and evaluated things. I still used the skills she taught me in my decision making processes, very logical and thorough I hope.
The fall of 1982 she brought in the magical device, a Tandy computer, that she taught us how to program. I was hooked, this was so much more fascinating than an arcade game, which I had an addiction too! I guess my family caught on and decided it would be a good idea to feed this hunger. I mean I was already spending lots of quarters between Defender and rental time on the library's Tandy, might as well have my very own computer in the house so to speak.
So I want to take a little time and thank all those adults that influenced my life back then to give me a desire to make magic happen on the computer.