First interactions with a PC were on a ..well, I don't actually know. I do remember that in 4th grade, we had Info as an optional class, and we would write long programs on notepads. Actual notepads, pen on paper that would later get entered on a couple of PC's with the help of the teacher and when running we would get Didn't know at the time, but I was already programming in Logo.small drawings showing up on the screen. Didn't know at the time, but I was already programming in Logo.
Most were just lines and lines of code that the teacher would provide and we would learn by heart, just like a poem. After some time though we would make our own drawings.
I now remember fondly of these, but if not for that teacher's passion and willingness to make us understand what we were doing, perhaps it would have not made a mark on me. For sure, it would not impress 4th graders in 2019.
The only other memory I have of that time is smuggling Microsoft Encarta cd's from the same teacher. Those were worlds apart from what we were doing in class. I wonder if I still have those somewhere ...
In a Flash
You could say I then went to DevOps, having to figure out how to repair the only Windows PC we had, an AMD k6-200. The issue: it was were my mother kept her accounting programs... but also were I would run cracked games and .bat files of my own, and those often lead to me reinstalling Windows without deleting her files, most of the time going against the clock, trying to have everything back in order before she came back from work.
Then came what now seem like endless summers where I would finish Doom over and over again with friends and played matches that lasted days on Might and Magic 3.
I rediscover that coding was fun in high school, were although the curriculum required us to learn Pascal, I had a great teacher that figured out that some of us actually liked and we were eager to learn how to create more useful stuff. So we learned what was then Macromedia Flash. Not only is was quick to get a handle on, but you could see animations and other great visuals in a matter of minutes. Pushed by our wonderful teacher, I teamed up with a colleague and we went to do some small apps for a couple of competitions.
We did not win any big prizes, but we went to several cities in different parts of the country, met a lot of interesting people and realized that what we were doing could be more than a hobby!
Many turns in the road
During University, I took a part-time job at a shop that sold furniture. They had many field agents and a lot of customers. The only database was their accounting app, closed to outside probing.
My task was to create reports for each agent activity, figuring out sales numbers each week. That meant reading a mountain of printed invoices, getting the data in a large excel while correlating products, clients and field agents. I could not stand this system and figured out that I could export the invoices as PDF's. Then I would read them with an OCR program and fill the Excel that way. That OCR output was not perfect, so I would still double check with the old method, but only check it, not painstakingly input each value by hand.
So not exactly my dream job, but it was decent to get my first couple of paychecks.
I then applied for a couple of Flash developer positions. ActionScript had moved from v2 to v3 and I was not familiar with it but found that most of the testers still accepted v2. I got accepted for 2 positions, something I did not expect. Not knowing the market I went with the one that seemed safer, a Romanian held company close to where I lived. I've asked for what was at the time the Don't sell yourself short!minimum paid wage and they laughed at first, letting me know that it would be much better than that.
And they were right, I got myself a fancy new watch and started spending money left and right. I had a great mentor there that taught me ActionScript v3, I discovered great people that are my friends to this day and although we had strict deadlines and we would often work late or even nights and weekends, I did not care. I was making $$$ and had fun while doing it.
Then Apple made the iPhones and they killed Flash. Projects switched to HTML5 and JS, but they needed to have the same level of interactions and animations as their Flash counterparts. Not to mention they needed to run on Android tablets as well as PC, Ipads and..wait for it...the immortal Internet Explorer, at least the 9th version.
The well dried out
The global economy went sideways, and my golden well started to dry out. Paychecks were slimmer and slimmer and in the end, it was just not worth it anymore. A couple of colleagues gave up, including my mentor. I stayed for a while longer but kept receiving excuses instead of money, and in the end, I also left. Something I did not anticipate. I had just ordered and paid a lot of furniture for a new apartment my parents signed a 20 years credit. And I did not have any money stored, because I was not aware of their value or how fast they can disappear into thin air.
Luckily, I had my parents and I borrowed from friends for 2 or 3 months. Demoralized, I started going to interviews for a junior HTML and JS dev position...minimum wage in sight. As I finally landed a proposal, my old mentor said that I should go see him at his new workplace. There he vouched for me that I am a fast learner and I can work under stress, and just like that, overnight I was to fill a junior PHP position, something I knew nothing about.