How I got started in Software Development?

There is a meme going around at the moment and I thought I’d join in even although I’ve not been specifically tagged by it, it looks good fun. I spotted it on Phil Haak’s blog with his response.

How old were you when you started programming?

I was 8 years old.

How did you get started in programming?

When my dad bought a ZX Spectrum in 1983 (It was a Mark II, 48K RAM). I started by typing in programs from the manuals, then by creating my own programs. One of the first I remember creating was to stop my sister using the computer. She was younger than me and the program was something like this:

10 PRINT “How old are you?”
20 INPUT a
30 IF a < 8 THEN PRINT “You are too young to use this computer.”; GO TO 10

What was your first language?

ZX Spectrum Basic

What was the first real program that you wrote?

The first real program that I wrote as part of a job was a tool to summarise and format certain data in a database. What today would be handled by a few drag & drop operations and some mouse clicks in SQL Server Reporting Services took me about a week or so back then. It was written in a language called Magik (yes, with a K)

What languages have you used since you started programming?

Well various flavours of BASIC (ZX Spectrum, BBC, Visual Basic, VBA, etc.), COMAL (used by my high school), PASCAL, C/C++, COBOL, Magik, javascript, C#. There are probably a whole slew of other languages that I’ve touched over the years but not spent any significant time with that I’ve missed out here.

If you knew then what you know now, would you have started programming?

Yes, I would still have started programming. I probably would have done it a lot better though. There are a lot of things I’ve learned along the way that I wish I knew earlier. But, then again, if I never made those mistakes what lessons would I be learning? I guess I would be answering this questions pretty much the same way, but thinking of a different set of mistakes. Or would I? Maybe, since I didn’t make those mistakes in the first place I would end up being an incredibly arrogant insufferable arsehole.

If there is one thing you learned along the way that you would tell new developers, what would it be?

Last year, I interviewed for 3 months to hire a developer. From that, the one major thing I think people need to understand is that in software development you must continue to learn constantly. I was interviewing candidates with 10+ years experience that had pretty much never learned anything since leaving university. Sure, they were using new languages since leaving, but they never learned about how to really use this fancy new object oriented language, or how to defend against SQL Injection Attacks. Most of them couldn’t even write a fizz-buzz program for goodness sakes.

So, my answer would be life long learning. If you don’t want to do it then do something else.

Who do I tag?

It is an interesting set of questions, and I’d like to know the answer from the following people:


  1. says:

    Ugh. Memes. How I Got Started In Software Development.

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