I remember my dad showing me a small VB app featuring a dialogue with an offensive label and two buttons. The trick was that the dismiss button jumped around when you tried to click it. As you can see, I just needed to be able to inflict that on my classmates.
Ah, nostalgia. I remember similar incredibly juvenile flash games(?) from childhood, posing the question “Are you ?”, to which clicking ‘Yes’ meant yes, and hovering over ‘No’, would change that button’s text to “Yes”.
Early in my career also I remember building some pointless fun things, inspired by The Useless Web. I hope that kind of fun isn’t lost on new people coming in.
“Are you ?”
“Are you ?”
I think you accidentally a word.
Strange. I thought I had written “Are you ?”.
Truth be told, I remember the question was “Are you gay?”, but in our times of pretty extreme political correctness, I thought it unwise to make light of juvenile jokes that disparage homosexuality.
EDIT: Ah, now I see why the word is missing. I wrote <pejorative> and the angle brackets must have been stripped, along with their contents.
I love this story, because mine is almost exactly the same! I loved a few specific ps2 games and I wanted to make my own, so I searched for information on the web. This was when google was the main search engine but it wasn’t a verb yet. I landed on cplusplusprogramming.com or something and being really confused.
I remember using that site to learn about calling winmm.dll function from VB6 in order to play background music for a text game I was making. The code quality was horrible, but still, it was there for us. I also remember learning a lot from PHP documentation comments a few years later.
Yeah! I remember in 2012 or so I switch from .NET to a PHP project at my day job, and as a very green programmer, I was so impressed at how much easier it was to find the answers I needed in the PHP docs.
Mine is similar except it was cheating at runescape with SCAR scripts. I also made a bot (modified client) that added a “trade spam” button that briefly changed the pvp game until everyone turned off trade requests. Those were the days.
Another ex-Runescape player here. Didnt have a computer or console but libraries had PC’s by that time. So, had to play web games like Earth 2025 that were mostly text-based. Runescape way better! Lots of depth in skills and economy, too. Grinding sucked, though.
After doing a lot of it, I decided to automate it. Decompiled the Java. Said screw learning that. Had done tiny games in VB6 and Win32. Reused that knowledge to record and replay clicks with me just reading books or something while watching chat to prove Im not a bot. Got tired of it when we got a desktop where I could get Half-Life, Starcraft, etc.
EDIT: Oh yeah, while I was mainly a miner/smither, my other specialty was catching, cooking, and selling lobsters (lvl 40). How fitting get a reminder of Runescape on Lobsters. :)
Great write up! Always nice to hear where one has been, and where they plan to go by inference.
I got into all this hell we call programming via an iMac G3. Lime green. It was running OS 9 when I got it. I was a real Mac nerd back then. The worst part about it was considering myself a “Mac gamer” and how there wasn’t anything wrong with that. Ha. Anyway, I played RTCW and you could drop the in-game console down and make your gamer tag different colors etc etc via commands. I also played around with HTML and basic FTP servers.
Then came my wilderness years spent in art school. There was a first year course that actually taught basic HTML and general web literary, which some students really disliked. Man, what a blast that all was. I got serious about a career in the arts before coming back down to Earth later and drifting back to basic IT work. Blah, blah … learned to program in earnest and here I am.
Nothing to be ashamed of with regard to being a Mac gamer in the 90s and early 00s.
Some of my favorite games were played on my G3 Beige tower with OS9.
Also check out Richard Moss’ The Secret History of Mac Gaming
Thanks for sharing this!
I just wanted to sort the games on our MSX.
A single floppy disk often contained a bunch of games (10 to 30). It was a bit annoying if you wanted to play a particular game as you had to find the correct floppy disk. So I numbered all our disks and wrote down which games are on which disk in a text file. I then created a program to tell me which games are on which disk, or on which disk a particular game is.
Basically, I invented grep. It would also sort the output by alphabet; I remember typing “zzzzzzzzzzzz” at some point as a fixed “last entry” 🤔
The way this entire thing worked is unbelievably cumbersome by any modern standard; you would first load the floppy with my program, locate the game, switch floppies, and restart the computer. Restarts didn’t take very long though. Later on we got a more advanced two-drive version, so you could load the game from the second drive.
Another interesting MSX property was that you could edit a line but it wouldn’t get saved until you typed enter. For years I had the habit of typing <End><Enter> after we moved to a Windows computer to make sure my data actually got saved.
Its odd to see the triggers that subsequent generations of programmers have for learning to program.
Mine was all over the place. Writing trivial programs to make squares blink on a commodore64 was the start, then years later tearing down programs with softice to try and understand how they worked and installing and customising different Linux distros downloaded over my parents 14.4kbps dial up connection. Building web sites with the built in editor in Netscape Navigator… man I loved that browser. I didn’t actually turn it into a career until a lot later in life though.
If you’re nostalgic for that era, check out this game: http://www.zachtronics.com/tis-100/
Oh man, this looks awesome! Thanks, going to try it out this weekend!
I remember being in elementary school and convincing the high school physics teacher to teach me about computers, and how incredible it was when we managed to get QBasic to draw a sine wave with a retro looking wireframe trail behind it while the PC speaker squealed out “music”.
What do these programmer origin stories look like for kids today? My oldest daughter is closing in on the age I was when I first learned how to program, and I really don’t know what to show her.
Mine is very similar! I must have literally typed in “game maker” into Google, because I found Game Maker pretty quickly. I transferred it to the kids’ computer that had no internet and started modifying the sample games it came with. After a bunch of drag-and-drop stuff, I learned a bit of GML and kept going. I would read the forums, download games, modify them, and learn that way. This was all in 8th grade and by 9th grade, I was trying to learn C++. My big break came with taking Java in 10th grade. Onward and upward!
Love this. So much about learning to program, for many people, is based around wanting to emulate something that already exists just for fun.
My first programming endeavour was on my graphing calculator in high school. I ended up creating a map editor that read values out of a stored matrix, and drew a map on the screen based on those values (e.g. “1” meant fence segment, “2” meant bush, “3” meant rock, etc.)
I learned by getting my first computer with 16K RAM and cassette tape for storage, and reading as many books and magazines as I could. Eventually, I obtained an unbelievable amount of memory—64K!
Ah, the days when an entire computer could be understood by a single person.
I started somewhere in primary school, with a section of a magazine that gave instructions on how to run QBASIC and make a program that tells the user to inform it that windows has crashed and asks the user progressively ridiculous questions. I would boot, run the program and leave the error screen for one of my parents to find.
I don’t think it fooled my parent, but it felt pretty cool to have that level of control over the computer. I also think my father stimulated my programming, and bought me ‘programming for dummies’, which I carefully read. From that book, I learned how graphics work. I also found the QBASIC community, and got more and more interested in the demoscene. From there, I looked at the source of different demo’s and I learnt how several ‘oldschool’ demo effects work by examining the source. I would print it and annotate it. I also learnt how PEEK, POKE, and segmentation work.
All of this continued in high school. When I chose computer science as my major, I learned C# (after which I practically knew C minus peculiarities – pointers were quite easy to understand, having worked with PEEK and POKE), but practically stopped ‘programming for fun’. The last project I did was working on an OS, which taught me some x86 assembly. I got more interested in math and electronics, and I started a second BSc in math. When I finished my BSc’s I started MSc’s in math and computer engineering.
Nowadays, the BSc in computer science is still the thing that attracts the most recruiters to my linkedin profile.