You ever “re-discover” something you used to love and you feel that exciting rush all over again just like you did the first time? Yeah, that.
The other day, I was working on a website and I ended up dusting off some of my coding skills–good old HTML coding. The simple act of looking for a particular font turned into “fixing” some other things as well. As any good computer geek will tell you, HTML is not a programming language, but all those perfectly placed numbers, letters and symbols took me back to my days of computer programming.
In the late ’80s, my parents gave me an Atari XEGS. It was a game system (I spent many many hours playing Bug Hunt), but it was also a home computer with a full keyboard and everything. I didn’t have a printer and this was long before the internet was a standard thing in everybody’s household, so there was nothing much for me to do with it, but type, play games…and code.
Atari used the BASIC programming language and in the manual, they had a little tutorial and several programs to try. Using the the provided codes, I made math games, flowers, fireworks, word games and other random things. I got to the point where I could tweak those original programs with my own little adjustments (color changes, different math equations, etc) and eventually, I was able to create my own programs.
Programming sucked up hours of my day and I loved it. It was so exciting to be able to turn what looked like jibber jabber into games and visuals that I could play with and share. It was pretty basic (pardon the pun) stuff, but it was something I created nonetheless. I distinctly recall one afternoon when one of my aunts was visiting. My mother brought her into my room to watch me put in the finishing touches on a code I’d made to make some goofy moving design appear on the screen. I’ve been on this nerd thing for a long time, baby. Forget about tap dancing and singing and all that for guests–watch me code, damn it.
But alas, my love for computer programming burned white hot and fizzled fast. I got bored with it. The love affair didn’t even last a year. Sega and Nintendo soon became my gaming systems of choice and my poor Atari XGES was packed up in a box somewhere and forgotten.
I think I got bored with it because I didn’t have a programming mentor in my life who could challenge me and show me how to do more things. That’s why I am really glad to see that an organization like Black Girls Code exists. Definitely click on that link and check them out. Sounds like a great program.
Anyway, doing this HTML stuff just made me think about my old computer programming days, so I thought I’d share. Feeling a bit inspired to pick up a C++ book or something. Maybe the love will stick around this time.
Did you do anything or own anything in your childhood that you wish you’d kept up with over the years?