My experiences and exposures to ‘coding’ falls conveniently into three time periods:
- In the beginning – punched cards and punched tape
- In the middle – the Apple II and personal computing
- In the end (and now) – html and php/Mysql
In the beginning
In the late 60s I got my first taste of coding (although it was called programming then) when I spent hours hand-punching 80-column cards each of which carried some instruction in Fortran IV. It seemed that a simple Fortran program needed 50 lines of code to get ready (definitions, declarations, etc.), a few lines to execute, and another 50 lines of code to prepare and spit back the program outputs. For bonus points, these cards had to be placed in a shoebox and taken by public transportation (the bus!) to Head Office and handled reverently to a demi-god in a white lab coat. Several days later, one of the demi-god’s assistants telephoned to tell you to come and retrieve the output. More bus trips. More wailing and gnashing of teeth when the output revealed some miniscule error in a set-up card or an output control card produced what was laughingly called a core dump – a.k.a. piles of useless paper detailing your mistakes as they cascaded through your code – supposedly useful in de-bugging your code.
Entertaining though this was, the program purpose was to produce the fore-runner of a real-time, interactive, control strategy for the humidity, temperature, and air flow control in a machine the size of a large house continuously producing X-ray film 54-inches wide.
Fortunately, technology moved on and the Engineering Group ditched the head office mainframe in favour of a PDP 8i – filled with astounding power, fed by punched tape(!) or magnetic tape, but using the BASIC language. Now a program to add 2 and 2 then display the result became three lines of code, not 103 lines of code in the Fortan style.
10 LET X = 2 + 2
20 PRINT X
In the middle
In the end … and continuing
And finally I got to the HTML/CSS world of web design