Tag! I'm it!

David Chelimsky has tagged me with this “chain-blog.” I have enjoyed reading other peoples’ stories and I thought I would take the time to share my own story with you all:

How old were you when you started programming.

Hard to say. I suppose I was legitimately writing code at 9 years old.

How did you get started programming.

You might say I was born into programming. At a very young age, maybe 4 years old, my dad (Unclebob) would put me on his shoulders and take on a robot’s personality. He would remain motionless until I ordered a command. For example, if I said “walk” he would start walking.

If I said “turn” he would turn. And in a very computer-like-fashion, he would follow my orders to the “T”. After a “walk” command, my dad would not stop walking until I issued a “stop” command.

Poor programming on my behalf often led my dad, with me on his shoulders, straight into a wall. I used to laugh with delight as he’d bounce off and walk into the wall again and again until I corrected my programming error.

What was your first language?

At 9 years old my dad taught me Logo. I was drawing circles, squares, spirals, and in general making that turtle dizzy.

What was the first real program you wrote?

In high school I programmed casino games on my TI-81 during physics class. You could play Black Jack, Roulette, Bet on the Horses, and play the One Armed Bandit.

My friend Jim Maggio even did some pixel art for the slot machine. It was pretty sweet. All the physics students were required to have TI-81’s so my games ended up getting copied over and over. My first open source experience I suppose.

What languages have you used since you started programming?

In chronological order…

  • Logo
  • Basic
  • Fortran
  • Pascal
  • Forth
  • C
  • C++
  • Scheme
  • Java
  • Python
  • Ruby
  • JavaScript
  • C#
  • Objective-C
  • Smalltalk
  • Assembly

Whoa! I’m impressing myself with that list. But who am I kidding? I doubt I could remember how to write HelloWorld in half those languages now.

What was your first professional programming gig?

An internship at Object Mentor. I wrote some Java Servlets to automate parts of their website.

If there is one thing you would tell new developers, what would it be?

Software is not a spectator sport. Just watching people code won’t make you a good coder.

Code as much as possible if you want to master your craft. Code at work. Code at home. Code on vacation (Thought your spouse may throw your computer off the balcony). Code for fun. Code to kill time. Code while you’re sleeping (I mean in your dreams).

What’s the most fun you’ve ever had programming?

The project the David Chelimsky referred to was mighty fun. But I’d have to say the most fun I’ve had with my colleagues at 8th Light, Paul Pagel, Jim Suchy, Eric Smith, and Doug Bradbury.

I have never worked with a stronger team. When it comes to software, I imagine we could prevail over any challenge. Outside of software, our strengths are less impressive…

  • We started a basketball league and had a perfect record: 0-10. That’s right, we lost 10 out of 10 games.

  • We went on a ski trip together an managed to loose some family members in the mountains, during a snowstorm, at night. They lived.

  • Doing push ups every hour of every working day surely made us stronger and earned us an infamous reputation in the office.
Micah Martin, Chairman, Founder

Micah Martin is co-founder of 8th Light and is known for his open source work such as FitNesse, Limelight, Joodo, and Speclj.