jjjdavidson wrote:Old Farts and First Computers: My first programming experience was on a Texas Instruments TI-58 calculator my parents bought me as a high school graduation present. Wikipedia says it was "Turing-complete," so I guess that counts.
I had a c64, and we had to program uphill in the snow, both ways just to run a simple program.
I first learned FORTRAN programming in college on my university's IBM 360 mainframe. Back then, we used punch cards to run batch programs, and waited around 5-10 minutes (depending on how busy they were) before we got our results back on a printout. You could recognize a beginner because they carried their card decks in their hands, usually held together with a rubber band; "real" programmers had programs that filled a whole box of cards.
When the department faculty discovered I was really good at programming, I got welcomed into the "inner circle", and was granted access to the "Time-Sharing Facility". That meant I was issued a special account where I could actually use one of the console terminals, write programs in BASIC, and store them on a disk drive somewhere instead of using punch cards!
I've since had access to an incredibly wide variety of computers throughout college and graduate school, so I never really had any pressing need to buy one of my own. The coolest one was a Xerox 1108 Lisp workstation that was assigned to me for my dissertation research; it had windows, menus, and a mouse long before Microsoft and Apple introduced those features to the general public.
I finally caved and bought a "skinny Mac" - the original 128K Apple Macintosh - when it came out, to use partly as a dialup terminal and partly as a word processor. I ended up buying the development kit and learning how to program it as well, although I never really got into it. . .about the only interesting thing I ever wrote for the Mac was a text-based adventure game (in the spirit of "Adventure" or "Zork") for my friends to play, where they had to figure out how to find and rescue a female friend from the rubble of our severely trashed dormitory building and escape before the police arrived.
In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm old enough where, in 1999, the company I work for put me on a special "on call" list for Y2K because I actually know COBOL.