October 15, 2013

How I First Learned To Program

I been asked many times, is computer programming hard?  My answer is always no, anyone can learn.  I taught myself my first programming language in early in the 9th grade after randomly finding this BASIC Games Book in the used bookstore in Downtown Wheaton, Maryland.  On the family old 286 PC, I would sit there an type out programs and run them on the MS-DOS BASIC Interpreter.  I never learn how to save the files so I would have to retype the programs every time I got on.  It wasn't just about playing the games, it was the correlation of what I typed and how it translated in to actions on the computer.  And with further understanding, I would be able to write programs that do what I want them to do, like those in the book.

At night, I would lay in the bed and study the programs...relating what one line might mean to another.  And that's how I learned BASIC.  I didn't have anyone to teach me or any idea of what it was I was looking at, but I liked it.  I was able to figure out what the keywords meant through mostly trial and error and relational analyst.  Now that I'm older, I don't think it was a process too different from someone learning another speaking language through immersion.  Learning is learning no matter what the subject is.  You can learn the laws of physics by using and observing them.

Today, I know several more programming language and have a Computer Science degree.  Also, I am doing what I learned to love years ago for a living.  It feels good.  But the bottom line, it wasn't hard to learn; it only took one book, and it wasn't even a how to book.

*Disclaimer* Learning a computer language is not difficult at all but being good at writing computer software is mainly the reason why you paid what you are paid.  Just like a writer, knowing how to put words together will only get you so far, the talent is how well you put the words together to achieve your goal.

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