Twenty-five years of coding

Calum Benson notes that today is the twenty-fifth birthday of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. That means that I’ve been coding now for twenty-five years, too. (With only a small gap when I was studying Chinese and only had a boring 8086)

I coded my first little things on the 16K Speccy my mother got loaned from the school where she worked as a teacher — they had bought one computer and a distance-learning course for all of their staff, and everyone was allowed a few months of the Spectrum. When it had to go, my parents promised to buy a computer of our own if my Easter report was up to scratch. I started reading Sinclair User and other English computer mags in preparation and soon my marks for English went through the roof. It’s safe to say that it was Sir Clive who made me learn English.

Much code was open source in these days. Or rather, one would buy a book with Basic listings in the bookshop, convert the code to something that one run on the idiosyncratic dialect of the computer one happened to own. And when the code finally executed, it was hacking time! Let’s make every player in the silly kingdom-type of game that was so popular at the time start with a debt and two fortune-eating elephants! Make them go through a random maze before they could get at the treasure needed to buy troops to quell a revolt!

That’s how I learned code. Wonderful days, wonderful days…