My first experience with a computer

My first experience with a computer

My school district offered interesting summer courses ranging from pottery to magic to computer programming. I never took pottery but I took the other two.

The summer before kindergarten I signed up for the computer programming class. Everyone was within a few years of my age so it wasn’t like I was some crazy prodigy or something.

Turns out we only had one computer (a mainframe), a keypunch, a punchcard reader, and a printer. I didn’t know what to expect so it all seemed pretty cool to me.

We learned BASIC and set to work on writing a short program. I decided I wanted to ask the computer for the size of a baseball field and have it print out the answer. I showed my program to the teacher and he told me I needed to add a line of code to print out the answer.

I was deflated. The computer doesn’t know? It was one of those anti-AHA moments where everything I thought computers could do suddenly exploded.

(As an amusing side note, I kept my program and showed it to my brother later. I had inadvertently wrote the question as “How size is a baseball field?” which I got teased about for about 40 years.)

So, I added the line that would display the size of the baseball field, put in my cards into the punchcard reader and got my printout. No bugs! Worked great on the first try.

This success was never repeated in my life.