Boy did Mark get me reminiscing. As I blogged on Chis Anderson's entry:
Oh yes. I remember the Apple ][. I remember going to "The Computer Store" in Eugene, Oregon - I was probably 14 or 15 years old - to select the system.
I got the computer itself, two floppy drives (big bucks), the SilentWrite (I think) thermal printer, and a word processing program. All for around $3,200. Have we come a long way or what?
This thing had a whole 48K of memory! And you must note that there was no hard drive. Back then, those things cost more than the comptuer for just five or ten megabytes of storage. There was no way for me to get one of those.
Also, I opted to use an old color TV for my monitor. Not the greatest picture, but at least it wasn't that green letter stuff. It's probably because of that experience that I can stand to look at 1600 x 1200 on my 19" monitor.
I did learn how to program in AppleBasic, but I really started having fun in the assembly language (was that a 6502 processor?). I made a little program that allowed me to program a course for a spaceship to follow. It worked much like the old Big Trak (here, also) truck: go forward '5', turn 'left', go forward '3', etc. This provided an early exposure to algorithms (not that I knew that at the time) in the way the image was painted on screen. The 'second' row in the video memory was like the seventh row on screen. Then, once you reached the bottom, the second screen row was painted. I don't remember the details, but it took a while to figure out how to move one pixel up or down from any spot on screen.
This 'addiction' that I was fulfilling started at my junior high school, though. We had the OTIS terminals (Oregon Technology something or other) that provided a select group of nerds access to an amazing new world. These were paper feed terminals - not those cool green CRTs. There were games and the ability to program. We tore apart the code to the games and learned how to rewrite them for added features.
Of course, the school got the cool new Commodore Pets and had a computer class the year I went to high school. I doubt that I would have learned as much in a class, though.
After ninth grade, I decided to take a class at the community college titled: Structured Programming in Basic. That is where I became enamored with the TRaSh-80s and their wonderful cassette tape storage system. I knew that I wanted to be a programmer at that point.
Unfortunately, when I reached college age, I went astray and tried my hand at 'business' studies. Here I am twenty years later, back in the fold and trying to recapture my youthful knowledge.
Most of that knowledge that I gained in youth left me in the intervening years. The last three years of school (Software Engineering) have only had scattered moments of recollection to those days. It sure is fun, though!