A few months ago one of my friends asked me “How do you get started in programming, there is so much to know”. I didn’t really know how to give a good answer. I guess that you focus on something and take it from there. My friends know me as the computer man, but I don’t know everything (in fact the more I learn I realise the more there is to learn even (especially) now after all these years). So I couldn’t really properly answer this question. Until now. I have discovered the Hello World! book by Warren and Carter Sande. An introduction to programming for beginners using Python.
In 1980, for my 16th birthday, my dad bought me a Sinclair ZX-81. I was enrolled on an engineering course at college, with no software lessons at all. I read the user guide from cover to cover, made sure I understood properly every page and so learned myself to program in Basic, to the extent that I got a summer job when I left college two years later for a software house programming Apple II and IBM PC-XT’s in the days before hard drives were commonplace. I must have performed well because I landed an offer to stay on after the summer, and from that first job programming the HP1000 and Dec VAX 11/730 in Fortran and my next job programming in COBOL, C and Unix Shell, my love of writing software that has never, ever waned.
The Hello World! book reminds me of those beginning days writing Basic in my summer job, although it uses a different computer language, Python, which will work on any modern PC. It covers much the same topics in a way, from the very basics of writing a program, to writing some quite complex ones towards the end of the book. This book is not just for kids, although it was co-authored by a very clever ten year old.
I discovered this book because I am playing back episodes of Hanselminutes when I’m driving in the car (on my own I hasten to add, the wife would give me a thick ear for listening to it while she was in the car), and I came across an interview with the authors – the ten year old boy and his dad, that I had skipped first time around.
The Hanselminutes episode is Episode 194.
I have just added the Hello World! book to my Books for Beginners page, right at the top.
If this post inspires just one person to start programming, and love it as much as I do, then it will have been worthwhile. I’m so lucky to have found something I love at such a young age that is also my job as well, and has kept me and my family all these years.