How did you get interested in programming?

Discussion in 'Mac Programming' started by Blondie :), Jun 7, 2010.

  1. Blondie :) macrumors 6502a

    Blondie :)

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    #1
    Hello all, I will be going into an engineering degree in the fall. I am almost certain I will need to be able to program something in order to get my degree. The only bad thing is, I haven't ever been able to get truly interested in learning how to program. So, how did you find the interest to learn how to program? In any language.
     
  2. GorillaPaws macrumors 6502a

    GorillaPaws

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    Richmond, VA
    #2
    I don't think I'm alone when I say this, but I got started because I wanted to learn how to take advantage of computers to make my life easier. For me it started with really simple programs on my TI-82 calculator, that would help me get my math/science homework done faster so I could do other things I enjoyed.
     
  3. Bill McEnaney macrumors 6502

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    Apr 29, 2010
    #3
    In high school, I tool a vocational course about data processing. After I learned a programming language or two there, I could hardly imagine being anything but a programmer.
     
  4. NickVellios macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2010
    #4
    When I was 12 I wanted to learn how to make websites. I learned HTML and did so. Then wanted to learn how to make the site do more (JavaScript) and it was all downhill from there. :)
     
  5. ptaylor9 macrumors member

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    Sep 16, 2009
    #5
    I just knew it was what I wanted to do, there was never a 'how do i get myself interested', I just wanted to make computers work for me, and that was it.

    It was going to college and Universirty and programming on a daily basis that really cemented it for me.
     
  6. HoldFastHope macrumors 6502

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    Sydney, AU
    #6
    I'm only a first year student so not super experienced, but the catalyst for me was getting a job at a software company. I'd worked in IT sales before and had intermediate knowledge of computers but when I got to my current company and started working with devs it spiked my curiousity. Worked my way into the support team and then enrolled myself at university to take it further.
     
  7. lee1210 macrumors 68040

    lee1210

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    Jan 10, 2005
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    #7
    I took to computers at a very young age, learning first how to assemble machines. Once this world-wide web thing started taking off, I built a website. HTML is a modeling language, not a programming language, but I could type something and make things show up. My senior year of high school I took AP Computer Science, and I was hooked.

    -Lee
     
  8. pilotError macrumors 68020

    pilotError

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    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    Long Island
    #8
    It all started when PC's were really just being invented. A guy in school was a computer whiz and was hired by Atari to build games for it's full sized games.

    I guess it just stuck, because I got a Texas Instruments TI99/4A as a gift, complete with cassette tape storage. I picked up assembler and game programming on that. I realized pretty quickly that gaming was more about graphic arts (which I had no interest in) than programming.

    I let it go for a few years, and was re-introduced to it in a high school course. I was the kid who kept screwing up the curve! LOL

    When it came time for college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was really interested in Space at the time, but there was nothing flying at NASA and the Air Force didn't seem interesting with the fall of communism and the Berlin wall (all within the same few years). I started in Aerospace engineering, but Grumman (here in L.I.) was faltering and there was a recession going on at the time. I ultimately switched to Comp. Sci..

    Back then, everything was new, it was the place to be. With hindsight being 20/20, I don't know if I would do it again though.
     
  9. sanPietro98 macrumors 6502a

    sanPietro98

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    #9
    Phew. I'm not the only old guy who got his start on a TI 99/4A.

    I got "hooked" in 5th grade when I would buy those gigantic PC Magazines with 10 pages of BASIC code. I would spend a few days typing in the BASIC code line by line from the magazines (saving to the cassette tape) and spend another few days debugging my typos. I probably learned quite a bit from those debugging sessions. But I was always just fascinated by algorithms.

    Good Times.
     
  10. Blondie :) thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Blondie :)

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    May 12, 2010
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    #10
    ok so now that I know how all of you got interested in programming, here is my next question. How did you manage to stay interested in learning the language when you were. See my problem is that I love the idea of programming, I just can't keep my interest peaked for long enough at a time to learn how to do it. Thanks for all the replies guys :D
     
  11. sanPietro98 macrumors 6502a

    sanPietro98

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    #11
    For me, I can't just sit down and say "I'm going to learn language XXXX." I need a challenge to solve. So I'll take some application I want to build and attempt to figure it out with the language I want to learn. I usually wind up throwing away my first attempt as I muddle through the new language/paradigm, but it's the problem and its goal that keeps me going, the language comes along for the ride. I find that after making the prototype or application, I come away with a pretty solid understanding of best practices of how things are done in that language.
     
  12. Thomas Harte macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    #12
    We had a ZX Spectrum (an early 8bit computer that was dominant in the UK during the 80s) and in those days all computers came with a programming language built in and a physical, printed manual that taught you the fundamentals. I went to an extremely relaxed primary school so that naturally presented itself as interesting when I was bored during the winter months, aged about 10.

    The Spectrum was actually a bit of an anachronism by the time I got my hands on it, so I didn't really have access to any other external resources, though I think we got a PC and I managed to teach myself C from the help files supplied with Borland Turbo C++ at some point before we got the internet, probably about six or seven years later. The next interesting thing was how everyone else addressed the same problems I'd made up my own solutions to, and then following that there has just always been more to read...

    I appreciate I'm not in a majority on this one, but I find some of the older 'definitive' texts really interesting. Stuff like Smalltalk-80 The Language, Kernighan & Ritchie and The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs. Though you probably need more up-to-date knowledge to be able to filter out the now irrelevant or just slightly odd bits. Though the Smalltalk book, at least for the first chapter or two (ie, before it gets into the library specifics), is a great introduction to object-oriented programming albeit that Smalltalk is ridiculously pure by modern standards to the extent that they don't even impose normal order-of-arithmetic rules on expressions because the various operators aren't defined at a language level to do anything more specific than send a message to an object and the natural order for message dispatch is left to right.

    Edited addition: keeping interested is definitely a question of finding challenges just beyond your current ability and chipping away at them. I think most hobbyist programmers leave a long trail of entirely unfinished projects because the interesting bit gets solved and then the rest just feels like work.
     
  13. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    Jan 26, 2008
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    Isla Nublar
    #13
    For me I was always interested in computers since I was really little. Sadly I was the ONLY one in my family and out of my friends interested in them (and still am). I never had internet until I was 16 (1998ish) and it wasn't a computer it was a webTV, but at least I had internet and could do HTML.

    I used to carry around a C book and a C++ book that I learned from and had programs written in my notebook to try whenever I got a computer. I never had a computer until I was 17. My parents just didn't see the use for them. My school also never had any computer classes or a computer lab until 2000 (the year I graduated).

    After getting a computer and FINALLY trying programming I realized thats what I wanted to do. I had a lot of fun making text based games and eventually small graphical games. I went to college for programming then ended up not liking it (people change) and decided I wanted to be a photographer instead. Well thankfully that phase passed and I decided that no, I DO love programming and I wanted to go back to it and write small casual games because thats what I enjoy. (I also like doing the art and music for them which is why casual games are great, it can all be done by one person).

    I went back to school to Penn State which at the time had very lackluster computer science courses (16 weeks of class only to get to custom functions? no thanks), so I switched to DeVry and I LOVE it, (I don't care what anyone says about it). It moves extremely fast and keeps my attention.

    I self study a ton and basically just go to school for the degree. Everything I come up on in school I've usually already studied on my own. Sure the professors throw in their experience which is nice but still.

    Anyway thats how I got started in programming and I have a lot of fun with it. I'm kind of strange in the fact that I have a scientific side that loves math, programming, science etc but some days I'll completely switch and be on my artistic side and want nothing to do with programming but instead I spend the day painting, doing 3D modeling, or photography. It works for me :)
     
  14. pilotError macrumors 68020

    pilotError

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    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    Long Island
    #14
    I'm sad to say, that at some point, unless you devote your life to it as a hobby, your limited to learning from what others do.

    When I first started coding in C, the C standard hadn't been ratified yet. Over time, I kept up and ultimately moved to C++.

    A teacher of mine was on the C++ committee, and even back then, the language was constantly evolving. The C++ I/O libs went through a huge change, becoming template based, as templates became all the rage. All the code still worked, but a bunch of stuff was now outdated. Ultimately, I lost interest and started to avoid the 200 page diatribes by factions of the compiler community arguing over the latest esoteric discovery.

    In my personal situation, I've learned more from mentoring new folks out of school and having to review others code. Some people surprise me, and everyone has a period in their life where that lightbulb turns on and they do things that shock themselves.

    The other big learning experience when you don't keep on top of things, platform changes. They really open your eyes :eek: You realize then what code is really an issue.

    I actually don't think in terms of what the language can do anymore anyway. I never really have, I'm more of a big picture type of person and can drill down into a problem. Languages are just an implementation issue that can be overcome.

    Sorry to be so long about these things, but you'll come to realize that it's utterly impossible to stay ahead of the curve when you have a life outside of coding. Marriage, Kids, etc., and you find your priorities really change.

    The other thing to realize, is that if you don't have an opportunity to use what you've learned, you lose it. I've started learning web stuff on a few different occassions, as a personal interest, but my work doesn't take me down that road.

    I have to laugh a bit when reading the Your favorite programming language, as you can really see the difference between the folks in the daily grind and the academia.

    Everytime I read about code purity and refactoring to make it elegant or beautiful, I wish life were that way. In reality, I've seen some pretty horrible crap get done to avoid rebuilding too many binaries in order to minimize the trip through the QA cycle.

    [/soapbox]
     
  15. Winni macrumors 68030

    Winni

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2008
    Location:
    Germany.
    #15
    If this truly is the case, then you should reconsider your chosen career path. I'm afraid that it won't make you happy. All kinds of engineering are about diving deeply into a subject and finding out how it works or how something can be fixed or built. It's about CONSTANT learning - you will NEVER be done.

    If you cannot stay interested long enough, then it probably means that your heart isn't in it and that you might be happier doing something else.

    In programming, you do not just have to learn - one - language. In your average career, you will probably learn at least a dozen of them for different purposes. C is just a 'lingua franca' that you need to basically understand. HTML, which is just a page description language, will definitely cross your path. You will deal with data, and that usually involves SQL and XML. You might have to customize a PHP, Perl or Python script one day. The list goes on.

    What's more important than learning a programming language is to learn the theoretical concepts behind programming and programming languages. Basically, if you understand those ideas, the languages aren't that difficult anymore. To master a language like C++, you will have to invest YEARS, not weeks or months. It's like learning a foreign language, and it requires lots of practice.

    But then you will face the problem that programming in enterprise/business environments is as boring as it gets. (Enter COBOL, Java, C#, UML and billions of 'enterprise ready frameworks'.) You'll quickly become brain dead over the robotic work.

    Game development is a lot of hard work, but maybe this is where you will find enough fun to keep learning. After all, game programming is about creating worlds, and that's pretty cool. Difficult and extremely challenging and REAL work, but nevertheless cool.
     
  16. Sydde macrumors 68020

    Sydde

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2009
    #16
    For me, it started, more or less, with Mr. Spock, et al.

    In HS, the computer was an HP2000 in the Multi-Services building out on 102nd street, and we used an ASR 110 TTY that had an optical card reader, over a (as the name might suggest) 110 baud modem. The teacher wanted us to write our BASIC programs on cards so that we would not waste connection time, but everyone just preferred to type them in. Of course, there was the archaic Burroughs E4000 machine right in the room if we wanted to try some ML programming.

    Somewhere along in there, we went to a community college on the weekend and looked at this amazing machine called an "Altair 8080". The owner fed a paper tape into its reader (just like the one we had on our TTY at school) and we were able to see Bill Gates' famous BASIC on that.

    Things are a little different now.
     
  17. chrono1081 macrumors 604

    chrono1081

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    Jan 26, 2008
    Location:
    Isla Nublar
    #17
    +1

    +2 If you learn one real good its usually easy to transfer the concepts to another one.


    +3 lol I may as well have quoted the whole post but this is true. This is why usually beginners are steered away from C++. It takes very long to get to do something useful.

    +495803845803840958 Game development is perfect for those who have a love for both programming and art. That being said unless your a small development studio where everyone has to do multiple tasks or someone with personal projects (like myself) you probably will not get to do both.

    That being said Winni nailed it on the head.
     
  18. Blondie :) thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Blondie :)

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    Prescott, AZ
    #18
    Thanks for all the posts guys :) I appreciate all the help. I think I'll be able to figure something out from here :)
     
  19. MorphingDragon macrumors 603

    MorphingDragon

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    #19
    Without the FUD for once. :p
     

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