Monument Add All About

The Spark


Between kindergarten and graduation I attended 10 different schools (one of them twice). In fifth grade I went to 3 different ones. I was at this one only a few months, but it made a huge impact on my life.

Sometimes being the new kid goes badly--that didn't happen here. People were friendly to me from Day One [1].

One thing that sticks out about this place was a boy named Corey. I remember him being heavily inspired by Prince. He would write plays and assign parts to kids in class. The teacher was cool enough that he would give time in class for rehearsals and the final performance. When I showed up, Corey said "You've got to be in my play" and gave me the Teacher role. I can't recall what the play was about but for some reason I think of Purple Rain.

The thing that I remember most about this place was that it sparked my love for programming. One day a week we would spend an hour in the computer lab. The lab had several VIC-20s that had Turtle Graphics loaded on them. Classes consisted of using Turtle Graphics to draw things on the computer. You would enter commands like the following:

UP 10

then run and a little turtle (really just a triangle) on the screen would interpret the commands and draw the shape. I was hooked from the moment I drew my first rectangle.

I was lucky enough to sit next to Vito who had a Commodore 64 at home. He was very patient with the hundreds of questions I asked him. He brought in some Commodore 64-related magazines and I devoured them. It was all I could think about.

Back then, K-Mart had Commodore 64s and 128s on display over in the electronics section. A Commodore 64 User's Guide was in the next aisle over. When we'd go shopping there, I would run over to the electronics section, grab the user's guide, then take it to the C64 on display and start typing things in. I taught myself Basic this way.

I guess it impressed my dad enough. One day he came home from work with a Commodore 64 under his arm. He went crazy and bought the whole kit: keyboard, monitor, 1541 disk drive, and a 300 baud (!!) modem that plugged into the back of the keyboard. I was on it all the time playing games, logging on to PlayNET and local BBSes, and of course programming.

It's been a long time since then, but I still feel the same way about programming as I did when I drew that first square. There's something about the creative potential to make something out of nothing. It still motivates me.

[1] Shout out to Doug, Wendy, and Corey. They probably wouldn't remember me, but many years later I remember their kindness.

Submitted 03/20/2021 02:52 pm