Monday, 30 January 2012

Slice Of Raspberry Pi?

I am massively excited about the recent excitement of the Raspberry Pi!

Wow!  Kids of today will be able to get their hands on this little gadget, they'll be able to learn and play, and perhaps hopefully learn how to program the little things.  Why is this so exciting to me?  Well let me tell you my tale.....

Where did it all begin for me in this world of programming?  In a land, far far away on a Radio Shack  TRS-80   16k extended memory.  I was in primary school, and I loved playing Frogger, Cuthbert in the Jungle, phantom slayer and similar.  Oh the memories!

For those too young to remember, this was one of the early home computers, and games were loaded via a tape player connected to the computer and by typing the command "cloadm".  It normally took 5-20 minutes to load into memory.  Only one game could be loaded at one time and when you switched it off it cleared the memory, so if you had a high score on a game you tried to keep the computer on for a long as you could, without your mum noticing!!  It also meant if you typed the wrong thing and it all went funny you could just switch it off and on again and all was previously forgotten and back to a clean slate.

"So what! Kids today have computers to play games!" You say?  The difference was with a computer back then it only started up with a command line, nothing to click, no options to anything and you had to know what to type for it to do anything.  It would start with only knowing the command to load a game.  Then it moved on to typing "cls 2", oh the sheer excitement of seeing the colour of the screen change colour.  For me I wanted to know more, I was just old enough to read and it came with these huge books that taught you about the computer and what you could type into it.  I would follow the little tutorials and get all excited that I'd made the computer do something that I'd asked.

These books taught me how to program.  Did I mention I was in primary school?  See it really isn't difficult to get the hang of the basics.  So much so that years later, when I came to learn algebra at school, it was really simple for me, after all I'd already learnt the likes of:

10 print 'Hello, what's your name?'
20 input a$
30 print 'Hello ' + a$
40 print 'How old are you?'
50 input b
55 c = b + 10
60 print 'In 10 years time you will be ' + c + ' years old'

I also learnt how to refactor at this age, from this :

10 cls 0
20 cls 1
30 cls 2
40 cls 3
50 cls 4
60 cls 5
70 cls 6
80 cls 7
90 cls 8
100 goto 10

turned into

10 for a = 0 to 8
20 cls a
30 next a
40 goto 10

And now look at me I've made a career out of things I learnt when I was 9!!  As have so many other programmers.  It has always seemed that everyone in this industry is my age, as if it were our generation that was captivated by being able to tell a computer what to do.  And here I raise a glass to the Raspberry Pi and hope it inspires and grasps the imagination of everyone everywhere!!

I can't wait for my little slice of Raspberry Pi.... and what it potentially holds for the future of software development.... xx

1 comment:

  1. I only just read this article after the one you posted on female programmers.. Sorry. Did you get your PI in the end yet Katy?
    Mine should arrive around 27 July 2012 which comes with Python as the default language. So in the meantime and in preparation for this I have started learning Python, which is great as it looks to be one of the easiest languages to learn and is free to download.