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AnswerRe: What made you start coding? Pin
Mycroft Holmes9-Sep-19 14:17
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honey the codewitch9-Sep-19 22:11
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honey the codewitch9-Sep-19 22:49
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AnswerRe: What made you start coding? Pin
Roger Wright9-Sep-19 22:23
professionalRoger Wright9-Sep-19 22:23 
Before I started college, I knew I was going to have to learn programming as part of a BSEEE degree education. I found a book at the local library on FORTRAN II, and I think I memorized it. As a result, I aced my one programming class. My interest was in the analog and RF stuff that took math and physics knowledge that the digital kids couldn't fathom, so never followed up with it.

But in my second year, I got a job at another, private, University, and they had a project that had been abandoned as hopeless by the previous lab tech. It was an Altair 8800, mostly assembled then ripped apart in frustration by my predecessor. He took the documentation with him when he left. I completely disassembled it, phoned MITS to get a new schematic, and rebuilt it correctly. It still didn't work, and I figured that it was a memory card issue - 4 cards x 1k. I found the manufacturer of the cards ($400 each back then) and after talking with their tech support, applied the recommended repair procedure - hook up the power supply tabs on the card edge connector to a variable supply, set the voltage, then increase the current limiter until something smokes. That worked, removing a solder bridge from a couple of the cards.

Then came the problem of using the thing. There was no such thing as an application, nor an operating system, but there was a monitor - PL/1 I think it was - and the school was too cheap to pay for it. Fortunately, we had an ASR33 Teletype on hand, so I designed and built a S-100 card to allow the Altair to connect to the ASR33. Then, with the help of excellent documentation published by Intel, I wrote a monitor program to listen for activity on the terminal port. Once that was working, having to enter it each time in binary using the front panel switches on the Altair, I got it to send the memory dump to the paper tape punch on the ASR33. That took several tries, owing to power glitches that reset everything. But once I got that done, I could enter a mere 16 bytes of code from the front panel to make a bootstrap loader, install the tape in the reader, and toggle RUN on the front panel.

From there, the powers that were told me that their students couldn't be expected to program in Intel opcodes, so I had to make another, rather long, paper tape. Still using the native machine code, I created an Assembler, which allowed students to write (and type) programs using the customary assembly language pseudo-English notation, rather than all ones and zeroes.

Having done all that to make a collection of circuits make electrons do my bidding, I was hooked, and I entered the field of automated testing, combining hardware design with programming. I haven't had near as much fun since I left that field.
Will Rogers never met me.

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honey the codewitch9-Sep-19 22:48
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BryanFazekas10-Sep-19 2:28
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Richard Deeming10-Sep-19 3:21
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honey the codewitch10-Sep-19 7:55
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Michael Varey10-Sep-19 5:13
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Late for Dinner10-Sep-19 5:47
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Ed(Member 1767792)10-Sep-19 5:47
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