My Journey Through Code and Some Nostalgia

About how I've started to code, some history and where I'm now.

It all begun a long long time ago in Romania (around 1990). I must have been less then 10 years old. A friend of my father visited us in a winter and brought me a gift… a keyboard from Russia. It was the first one I have ever seen, I can recall how it looked like (it had Cyrillic characters – it was a HC (Home Computer) made in Russia and I think it had a golden metal body and a small box on it). I don’t remember using it, I think that we couldn’t make it work.

A few years latter, I received my first working computer… it was an HC made in Romania, probably HC-90 or HC-91. HC-90 HC-91

One would connect this computer to a monitor or, if you didn’t have one like me, to the TV set.

Also, it didn’t have a floppy disk drive. Instead, you would connect it to an audio tape player. The software was recorded on tapes, and you would play the tape like you would do when listening to music, and wait until the software would load (sometimes 1/2 hour). It also made a “nice” sound…if you remember the one made by the dial-up modems: The sound of the internet on dial-up modems

Of course, we didn’t have internet connection then.

While we used the HC mostly for games, I remember being very proud of the shapes I could generate in the BASIC Programming Language. That was the programming language used by the HC. Here you can learn the BASIC language. I used mostly DRAW, CIRCLE and PLOT commands, usually by trial and error. That was all.

Fast forward a few more years, when, after immigrating to Israel and entering high school, my parents bought me a real PC. Even though in school we studied some Assembly language and Turbo Pascal, I wasn’t really fascinated by programming. I used my PC mostly for games, browsing the internet (on dial-up connections), MS Office, Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia and chats. Assembly Turbo Pascal mIRC

During that time (about 1999), I started “programming” in two ways: While using the mIRC for chat I’ve discovered that you can make “bots”. You could “program” them to reply to different words used in the chat-rooms or to serve files from your computer to users requesting them. After playing with this a little, I thought that the potential reach of a bot is very small (only the users in the chat-rooms) so I’ve decided I have to build a website to reach a wider audience. I’ve started to use (I can’t say I wanted to learn) HTML to build a website (it’s name was something like Romania Central – it was meant to be the most important portal with links about Romania). I have no idea what happened to that page and I doubt that anyone but me ever visited it.

I went on to study Economy and Logistics and started working as an economist. In 2006 I’ve started my MBA studies at Technion (Israel Institute of Technology) with a focus on Start-Ups. I was one of the few students without a Computer Science or Engineering degree there, but lucky me, we didn’t learn coding at all (the program focused on the business aspect of the start-up scene).

As an economist I mostly used some VBA to build macros in EXCEL and in general I became an end user of different software (like SAP FI, FM and BI, IBM Cognos TM1, Oracle DataWarehouse, Navis N4 Terminal Operating System).

In the last couple of years I got interested in building websites. I’ve made different blogs and e-commerce sites on different platforms and by having to customize the themes I learned about CSS and Javascript. I’ve also tried to make something a little more complex – a classified site for selling stuff. So after getting a domain, hosting with MySQL database, a Joomla classifieds theme and some tinkering with PHP I had a working classified website. By playing with this stuff I got more interested in what’s under the hood.

After some research I’ve decided to start learning web development in a more structured manner. This being a hobby, I didn’t want to invest in a paid course therefore I began the freeCodeCamp front-end course. You can follow my progress here. At the end of their course they should match you with non profit organizations to code for them, a nice thing to do.