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My Love of Coding
With Computer Science Week coming up, I thought I would share how I got into computers and coding. It all started way back in 1984. I took my first computer class as a 7th grader in Junior High School. It was a classroom filled with Apple II computers, and we used some crossword applications on it as well as read about computers. I thought it was amazing!
The next step in the story was when we got a Timex Sinclair ZX80. I had it plugged into a black & white TV and had a cassette recorder to save my programs! I would come home from school, go through the book of programs in BASIC, and type them into the computer. You had to be extremely careful because if you bumped or moved it too much, it would reboot, and everything would be lost.
That spring, my parents decided to put a Commodore Vic-20 on layaway at K-mart, and I could use my lawn mowing money to purchase the computer. I was so excited! By that summer, I had a VIC-20 hooked up to the TV, and a whole new world of coding opened up to me. I could go to the grocery store and purchase computer magazines that included programs that I could type in and run on my computer. I think I spent the entire summer in my room, teaching myself to code. By my freshman year in High School, I had saved enough to get a cassette recorder to save my work (it needed a special connecter), so a normal cassette recorder would not work. I was also able to get a color printer! I was one of the few freshmen who was able to print out reports for my classes. During this time, I joined a few computer book clubs and got my hands on as many books about programming as I could.
By my Junior year in High School, it was time to upgrade the computer again. This time, I went with a Tandy TSR80-Color Computer. This computer had a faster processor and more RAM. I joined a local COCO computer user group to meet other computer geeks and continued my programming in basic. The following Christmas was a big one for me. My parents got me a RAM upgrade and a floppy disk drive! I was in geek heaven. They also purchased something called OS/9, which was my first time using a GUI on a computer. It was very different for someone who always used the command line.
From there, I went into the Navy, got to play with their computers, and created my first program that other people used. I wrote a program in Microsoft Visual Basic for DOS. We used the program to record any encounters with civilian ship RADARs. I was in Electronic Warfare so that stuff was important for us. I was excited about the program, and we even shared it and the data we recorded on a floppy disk with the ships, which relieved us.
Upon my discharge from the Navy, I returned to school to study Computer Science at the local community college. I enjoyed learning about the history of computers and programming languages other than BASIC. I eventually transferred to a 4-year college and started in Computer Science, but I transferred to Information systems. During that time, I learned Visual Basic for Office, COBOL, FORTRAN, and C+. I ended up leaving school early and getting a job doing technical support for Earthlink Networks.
Fast forward quite a few years, and I ended up working for Apple in the AppleCare at Home advisor role. I went back to school and completed my bachelor's in Information Systems. I also learned how Java coding, Objective-C, and iOS programming. When Swift came out, I really started to focus on coding. I ended up leaving Apple and creating two iOS apps that were on the Apps Store for a while. At this time, I started to substitute teaching and decided that I really enjoyed teaching. During that time, I never stopped learning about ways to use technology in the classroom.
Finally, we get to the present, where I am passionate about coding with SwiftUI and teaching students the history of computers and coding. SwiftUI and Swift Playgrounds on the iPad have really made app creation for everyone.
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