When I was in my early teens, my parents bought us kids an Atari gaming console. That\’s not what they were really called back then, but that\’s what it was. I forget the model and everything, but I well remember playing games on it. Kids would hardly recognize it these days with huge cartridges you had to plug in and big joysticks with wires to connect it to the console.
My parents didn\’t know it at the time, but that\’s what got me started on my love for computers.
I just wanted to know how it all worked!
Atari and Commodore came out with their first home computers about the same time.
Everybody thought it was crazy at the time – computers were only for the big companies and NASA and things like that – why would anybody want a computer in their home. What a difference it is from today, lol, where computers are in practically everything!
I wanted a computer to learn to program on (program and play games were pretty much the only things you could do on them at first). But my parents thought that it was just another gaming machine and we already had that Atari. So I didn\’t get one of the first models – Atari 400 (I believe it was) or the Vic-32 (by Commodore).
Atari and Commodore were the big names in the home computer market, such as it was. Names you barely hear of nowadays. IBM and Apple came out with their first computers a few years later.
In the early 80s (I think around 1982 or so), Atari came out with the Atari 800 and Commodore came out with the Commodore 64 with a whopping 64 kilobytes (yes I said kilobytes, not megabytes) of memory. Can you imagine that, only 64 KB, your watch has WAY more than that nowadays, lol. But at the time, that was HUGE.
We had also moved to Germany and my new high school had a computer lab! They had the brand new Atari 800s in the lab and I got to start to learn to program.
I decided I definitely wanted a computer of my own at home even before we moved to Germany, so I started saving up my money. My parents still thought it was a little crazy, so I was on my own for this.
After comparing the two models, I decided to be different from the school, and bought myself a Commodore 64!
It was so exciting, I had my very own computer and I could program it in a language called Basic.
When I wasn\’t at school (or later at work) or out riding horses, you could generally find me programming my computer. Even when I was at school I was often programing as I had a computer class and I was part of the computer club that met at lunchtime.
When my mom and I were talking about this time a while ago, not long before she passed away, I found out that one of her fond memories was watching me teach the high school computer teacher how to solve a problem with a program on the computer, then he\’d go teach the other kids how to do it. She laughed because he was supposed to be teaching me, but instead I was teaching him – and it happened all the time.
Needless to say, I got an A in my computer classes 😄.
By the time I got to college, I had decided I definitely wanted to study Computer Science and I never did change my major (though I did take on Mathematics as a second major for my Associates degree and as a minor for my Bachelor\’s degree).