What are you "old enough to remember" in software development?

Ben Halpern on May 23, 2019

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My God thank you! I was reading these replies thinking "these people are all kids" lol


//nod// Save+load from cassette, hoping dearly that you started at the correct counter position and had the tape recorder volume loud enough (but not too loud), then wait...10 minutes...to play Wumpus!

...And there was also the cursed temperamental 16K RAM pack plugged into my ZX81 which would cause the computer to crash if you jostled the thing even slightly--like typing!!

For me it was a Commodore 64 or a Vic 20 which was what our first computer classes in grade 11 used.

I still remember the joy of walking up to a demo computer in a store and doing the 20 goto 10 thing :D

You young whippersnapper! I was at school at a time when the school didn't have any computers. Its entire computing facility consisted of a single teletype terminal that could be connected via acoustic coupler to a mainframe across town. Paper tape was the local storage medium.

It didn't matter. I was hooked.


I only recently joined this community and I'm happy to see more of us 'oldies' here


My school had BASIC when I was 10 years old! Every alternate IT period (Computer period) was a lab session where 30mins was programming and 10mins games. We had to draw a rectangle using BASIC and I used to wonder... HUH! Why can't we just draw it on a paper?! I am not sure whether this comes under "Old enough to remember"... but damn that was long time ago!


Completely agree. I've been through the same thing. They skipped a very important step: explain why we need to write tens of lines code for something that could be done in less than a couple of seconds on a sheet of paper.


If you like to revisit BASIC from a culture and humanities perspective check out 10print.org/
It is a beautiful book

Hey, Thanks! I will check it out. It would be a cool to check how much I remember.


Professionally: the double margin float bug in Internet Explorer 6 and hoping for the demise of IE5.

Also, I was aware of IE5 for Mac (different bugs to regular IE5) but never had a Mac at the time to try it out. Now we have Edge for Mac, so what goes around comes around, I guess.

My first web experience: all elements in capital letters and no CSS. Yay for <FONT> and <CENTER> and of course <BLINK> and <MARQUEE>.


Nested tables

...with some CSS thown in that rendered completely differentely in IE than in Phoenix/Firebird/Firefox.

Styling MySpace pages! Which were just nested tables with no class names or ids. So all the CSS had to look like

table table table table p { ... }

I had the (dis)pleasure of using IE on a Mac once. If you thought the bugs were bad on IE for Windows... holy crap. That browser was so half-baked.

I still remember DHTML menus and all that stuff.


IE on Solaris was quite a lot better, mostly because they didn’t even try to implement half of it.

Yeah. It was great, alright. Especially when you worked for a company that was Windows based but the only thing on your desktop was a Solaris box because you were in Unix Operations. "You need to do a daily timecard ...but the timecard system only works under IE" (and the IE for Solaris didn't quiiiiiiiiiiite render the page correctly).


My mother kicking me off AOL because she was expecting a phone call!


My friend coming round my house to play Habbo Hotel because her Dad put child restrictions on their AOL


OMG it was cat and mouse with us! I was finding workarounds to my parents' parental controls as fast as they could find new ones 😂


I'm old enough to remember Java applets 😄


One of the first projects I ever completed was a Java applet with physics simulation, and a bouncing ball.


FTPing into the server and making live edits. YOLO.

  • Basic and 6502 assembly on a C64 (1991)
  • The Borland Turbo Pascal and Turbo C IDEs (started using them in 1993)
  • Being excited when the first Netscape Navigator came out (end of 1994)
  • Switching to Firefox when it was still called Phoenix (version 0.5, 2002).
  • Having to add a ZAxisMapping option to the X config if you wanted the mouse wheel to work on Linux (switched to Linux in 1999).
  • The Usenet as main information source (still miss it)
  • JS being so new that DHTML (Dynamic HTML) was a term 😂

I experienced the switch from X11 to Xorg... and writing the configs for both was the biiiiiigest pita in computer history


But did you ever burn a mark into your monitor's phosphors when the config file your wrote was close to correct, but just not quite right?


Haha, yes I was totally talking about X11 above. The early days of Linux were quite painful but fun at the same time.

Nothing quite like waiting two days for the kernel to re-compile only to discover that you left the sd driver out.

The move away from the monolithic kernel was such a vast improvement in maintainability.


Notepad++ was the first time I had syntax highlighting and it blew my mind.

I used Notepad2 and it changed my life.

Editing Java files for university coursework in Notepad was one of the reasons I still hold an irrational hatred for Java in my heart.


When the "console", "terminal" or "command prompt" was really just this thing called "DOS"

And it had QBasic. And QBasic was a godsend for learning how the computer actually worked!

Speaking of learning how things worked... Drawing graphics in QBasic? You interacted directly with the video card. There were no drivers. You would have to manually setup which VGA mode you wanted, such as 320x240 pixel with 16 colors. And then very single dot had to be manually plotted on the screen! There were a few libraries for drawing primitives, but these literally did the same thing, CPU based drawing to a generic frame buffer.


Having to choose between 640x480 with 16 colors or 320x200 with 256 was agonizing back in the day!


Color! Plus 320x200x256 was easy to address because every pixel was a byte in an array.

MOSTLY YES! But there was also some odd-ball hardware that was 16-bit transfers instead of 8-bit. So to draw a single pixel, you had to read two bytes, replace one, then write two bytes back. HOWEVER though, this also meant that just raw performance of painting was twice as fast, as you could draw two pixels in a single operation, if you already knew what both were going to be! (like copying frame buffer for example)

For those who get a kick out of wrangling old hardware to do things it was never designed to.. this back in 2015 blew me away when I found it: int10h.org/blog/2015/04/cga-in-102...


But did you ever have to engage int he joy that was "shape tables"?


Professionally, nothing.

Unprofessionally: Geocities. My sailor moon character had her own website and I loved it.


My first public web project was on Geocities. Spent countless hours figuring out how to z-index over the adverts...


Had a Dragon Ball fan site on geocities, unfortunately, never found in any archive site :(


Yeah I know what you mean. What I'd give for those to have been archived, but it seems like it's not the case.


Love it.

I had a Metallica Fan site on Geocities

Red text on a black background in "Viner Hand ITC" font everywhere

  • Floppy disk to compile my C++ code
  • Tortoise SVN
  • Notepad (no syntax highlighting)
  • Netscape as a browser and IE6
  • Barnes & Nobles was Stack overflow
  • Circuit City was were the cool kids hung out and got their gears
  • Tables were the only way to control layout in HTML with some horrible CSS
  • Dreamweaver was the coolest shit since slice bread
  • ActionScript was how nerds did Flash
  • Flash
  • Napster (I don't want to get in trouble) let's say it was the premise for never ending playlists
  • The AOL DSL jingle and the famous "You've got mail"
  • Books
  • Java was the language of the web
  • CSS sprites when they first gained mainstream
  • YUI
  • Blogger
  • Google waves
  • Yahoo pipes
  • Hotmail - my first 'professional' email lol
  • Zend Framework for serious PHP dev
  • Phonegap as the first true HTML to mobile platform
  • jQuery mobile

Man plenty more I'm sure - it crazy going down the memory lane :)


Tortoise SVN is still a thing! And now we have Tortoise Git, which I use daily. I actually find it faster to do merge conflict resolution and file diffing with Tortoise compared to the command line. :)


Yes indeed but back then it was the only thing. I think it had one off the best diff tools associated with it. I just can’t remember the name.

Tortoise Merge is their diff utility. And yeah, I absolutely love it. Still use it on pretty much every single commit just to verify file changes.


A shoebox of punch cards with my Fortran programs on them. The output was printed on paper with green and white bars. What do I win?


The epithets of "venerable" and "inscrutable", certainly.


don't drop the box (or at least configure the punch machine to print sequence numbers)


Nice - I experienced the 3 week run/debug cycle for a year or so while still in school, then the Maths dept got a Pet - also welcome to dev.to :)


Vivid memory of my boss putting a box of punched cards on top of his car to drive to a customer and forgetting to put them in the car. First turn cards flew off, still ribbed him about it for years

  • First wrote code on a TI83 calculator
  • Table layouts and spacer gifs — no one coded CSS
  • "DHTML" was a term for JS + HTML
  • Wrote things like getElementsByClassName with walking DOM nodes because jQuery didn't exist yet
  • Firebug changed everything
  • Coding pixel perfect layouts IE6 was HARD
  • XMLHttpRequest — original Ajax blew my mind
  • Flash intros 😂

Oh, man. Spacer gifs are the one I thought of when I saw this topic. And I remember what a miracle Firebug was when it was released.


Wrote things like getElementsByClassName with walking DOM nodes because jQuery didn't exist yet

This is what we do now, though, because jQuery is bloated and uncool. Time is a flat circle :)


Well, now we can use querySelectorAll and it does everything for us.


Programming in Basic on a VIC 20 and playing video games on my friend's Commodore 64 that were on audio cassettes.

Also, programing in Logo in elementary school.

Mickey Mouse playing piano

Old school. 💪

Side note: Years later at a job, I discovered that one of my peers, much older than me, helped build the Logo programming language. 🤯


I did some Logo back in primary school. Those were the days, just pushing the turtle around the screen and making sweet graphics.

That's kind of amazing you got to work with one of the creators!


I was between saying logo and dhtml but went for cgi-scripts instead 😂


I'm technically a minor and I remember both Logo and BASIC from elementary school. And <font>.


have a look on my first ever page i did:

Imagemaps, IE3 Enhanced, 3D Buttons, Fireworks Shadows, FrameSets....
CGI-Scripts, Nervous animated Gifs

Today looks a bit better: fullstackjob.com


Oh man, creating rounded edges on elements using a 9-slice grid and four separate rounded-corner-top-right.gif/left etc images was fun. Using DOS, I suppose. Jill of the Jungle!!


I knowwwww.

The weird thing is that we were obsessed with doing it in the first place. Did we really need rounded corners that badly? 😵


Looking back, I think it was the challenge of the idea - an element that broke out of the square ✨⬜✨


Jill of the Jungle is free on gog.com an works perfectly in modern computers :D


I got to know the Adobe suite much better than I wanted to.


In the early days of the language, the creators of PHP used to hang out in the #php channel on efnet. They would answer Stack Overflow-type questions (I mean the "why am I getting this parse error" kind). I remember being amazed when Rasmus Lerdorf once talked about a calendar app he'd written on a flight across the country. How could you write something like that in a few hours?! I learned web development hanging out in that channel.


Rubber keys with programming key words like "goto" and "poke" in red and yellow accessed via different key combinations.

Typing in code from magazines and then having to debug it because of printing errors.

Only having 32k of memory.


32K?? Big spender. I remember when my dad brought home a tube of insect-looking memory-chips to install into our Apple ][ so it would finally have "enough" memory to run some of the more recent programs. Eventually maxed it out at like 48K?


Does anyone remember spacer gifs? Invisible gifs used to get your layout just right back when positioning was a total pain. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spacer_GIF


Then of course invisible GIFs became ad tracker GIFs :(


Writing keygens for software in Assembly language... found this code in my old folders (still wondering how I managed to write such lines 😂)

This was written on a Win XP machine 😆



I've done a bunch of assembly (x86, PPC and ARM professionally, 6502 and Z80 for the heck of it) and I'm not crazy enough to try raw Windows programming in it. My hat's off to you.


Learning QBasic, then opening gorilla.bas and being like "I'm not there yet" lol


Learning QBasic by opening gorilla.bas and tripling the explosion radius....


I was 6-7 then and it was awesome. My mom was like :O.


To insert lines in a basic program you create a line with an intermediate number.

20 CIRCLE (128, 100), 50

to insert a line there you do

15 REM Draw a circle

and use RENUM to re-enumerate in tens again... and create more "interlines", it would fix all the goto references automatically... that was amazing


Yep, you always started out counting by tens, and hoped you never got to the point where you had to start renumbering due to needing to insert more than 9 lines. 😁


In no particular order:

  • Dozens of floppies to install a compiler (Hello Borland C)
  • VB (note lack of .Net)
  • Writing a DOS device driver so I could edit config.sys on bootup
  • Being at a dev conference where the presenter quickly wrote a C# program on the board "Oh, sorry, that's not C#, that's Java", changes the case of a few things "Now it's C#"
  • Turning on a computer with no storage and have it work (The Vic-20 and C-64 mentioned elsewhere here)
  • OS/2. Would've flunked college without this, I had neural nets running for weeks and could still write papers.

Dozens of floppies to install a compiler (Hello Borland C)

Spending 20+ straight hours in the Sun lab to download Linux from MIT's TSX mirror ...then using rawrite to put it all on a stack of floppies. And, doing all that because the university's Sun lab was connected to NSFnet and its blazing 56Kbps "backbone".


My fav game back then, Sim Ant was installed from floppy!


I think I still have my SimEarth floppies somewhere.

I want to see someone join all the games together. Zoom into SimEarth, get SimCity. Zoom into SimCity, get SimTower or SimAnt depending on how built up the area was.


XML databases
386max etc memory managers (necessary for non-US keyboard drivers so we could run the real software)
DOS windowing systems
“Xxxxx 2000” as the Next Big Thing (eg WordPerfect 2000, Wordstar 2000)
Structured Programming
Novell Netware (and MHS) - So Many Floppy Disks
Token Ring

Thanks Ben, you’ve made me feel very old


Novell Netware (and MHS) - So Many Floppy Disks

No Banyan Vines? No Appletalk? None of the excruciating joy of making two or more of them work together?

Token Ring

Oh! And having to shut down an entire LAN to reset a stuck token!

Oh... And having to install Trumpet WinSock!



Dial up bulletin boards - eg FidoNet
Default passwords on Prime OS systems across the world
UKs JANET network


So much YES. That list brings back so many memories.


I feel absolutely ancient reading these replies.

My first software development memory is using toggle switches on the front of my friend's newly-assembled ALTAIR 8800 to enter individual machine opcodes into its 256 bytes of memory.

We had to hand-compile assembly code to get the opcodes.

It was exciting when we finally upgraded the memory and had Altair 4K BASIC (by "Micro-Soft") to write in a "high level language". Still had to hand-toggle the boot loader in before we could load the BASIC interpreter from cassette tape, though.


I’m old enough to remember when mysql_query wasn’t deprecated.

I’m old enough to have put W3C validator badges on at least 10 web sites.

I’m old enough to have used table layouts

I’m old enough to have made a website in MS Publisher


Never mind table layouts. Remember using multiple nested blockquotes for indentation?


Development Specific:

  • PHP4
  • Table layouts (though they really haven't gone away for those that do email templates)
  • IE6

Other things:

  • The prompt when you run a program on older versions of Windows that says it needs to boot into MS-DOS mode
  • "It's now safe to turn off your computer"

Using dreamweaver to edit HTML files over FTP.. in 2013..


I learned "web development" using Dreamweaver in University in 2010 🤷


I remember when the US DoD decreed that everything would now be written in Ada, and then every contractor started filing for exceptions. I remember printouts of project source code on fanfold paper hanging in binders on a rack in the terminal room. I remember disk drives the size of dishwashing machines and CPUs the size of refrigerators. Take that, all you youngsters talking about web-centric things -- Al Gore hadn't even invented the internet yet. 😉


The first Unix machine I worked on was a Gould Mini. It was two refrigerator sized cabinets. The 300MB HDD was in one of them and took three people to lift.


Ah Ada. My university (York, UK) was an Ada centre of excellence.. I never saw anyone ship anything in Ada in 4 years though :)


Hey: we called those project source printouts "backups" at one place I did time at.


• Radio Shack TRS-80
• Apple II, IIe, III, etc
• My 386SX
• Graphics mode v. text mode
• The text editor called "Brief"
• FoxBase/FoxPro/dBase
• Booting the Mac 512e with a floppy disk
• IDL (Interactive Data Language, like Matlab)
• Emacs & Emacs Lisp, XEmacs
• Sun Sparcstation
• ftp.wustl.edu & others like it where you downloaded & compiled your open source stuff
• BBSs (bulletin board systems accessed via direct dial up)
• The first laser printer (at UCSD)
• Gould Modicon programmable controller

Ah, the good ol' days. Yep, I'm old, but not old enough to have ever had to use punch cards. :)


My first computer was an Intel 80386SX @25MHz, 2MB RAM, 10MB of Hard Drive, Floppy 5¼" (B drive) and 3½" (A drive). Along with a Hercule display and a 9-dot dot matric printer (offering 4 different fonts! Yeah... The font where available ON THE printer, with a button to select which one). We had MS-DOS 5.0, Wordperfect 5.1, dBase 3.0, Lotus123, a Fighting Jet game (don't remember the name, was actually in 3D, couldn't make the damn plane land). I was 10 years old, and when I was like 13 my mother bought a Pentium 120MHz (without MMX), so she gave me the 386. I went to a computer store to ask what to do with it in order to play Diablo. They laugh at me so hard!!!


Ah Brief. I still miss Brief. Also the version control plug-in for it called Sourcerer's Apprentice


EMACS. Killit with fire. Nothing like the first time you open EMACS and are left wondering, "how the hell do I exit this beast"?


I’m sure there are many of the same memories here.

  • I learned HTML from view source on AOL web pages :-)
  • Netscape vs IE and the real struggle of writing web apps using JavaScript and CSS
  • Nested tables to get a single pixel border
  • actually using the blink tag and not joking about it.
  • Visual InterDev
  • Cold Fusion, the rise and fall
  • When Java was born
  • When nodejs was born
  • Silverlight the rise and fall
  • ASP+ aka .NET creation
  • Amazon was just a bookstore
  • 😡 that I didn’t create eBay, Netflix when they came out as I ran teams building these same apps!?!? 🤦‍♂️

There are more, but know I’m feeling old, 😂- thanks for the thread @ben


Staring at a blank DOS prompt in wonder on my dad's 286 in 2nd grade.

Programming randomly-shaped stars in logo in 4th grade.

Accidentally activating the BIOS password on my first computer and not being able to boot it again for six months until my uncle suggested "amibios" which worked!

Learning HTML so that my internet chats would look more awesome. Learning how to make it look like I was logged in as any other user in the chatroom.

Hacking my high school's login screen with COM files to say mean things about my school.

Setting IRQs for my sound card so I could play King's Quest with sound.

My first real program was a SkiFree clone written in Pascal. I invented the concept of sprites about 6 years before I learned that they had been a thing all along.


Accidentally activating the BIOS password on my first computer and not being able to boot it again for six months until my uncle suggested "amibios" which worked!

And back before there was anything like Google to tell you "pop the battery to reset it".

Of course, back before Google, we had Usenet.


I didn't know about the battery trick! I really wish I had. And I didn't even have a modem at the time to connect to Usenet. Later I got access to the internet through the local college's T1 line, and basically felt like the coolest person ever.

Yeah. It was an annoying way to do things. You'd pop the CMOS battery, and then you'd have to wait for the CMOS to discharge (usually took a half hour or so).


Flash intros
Tables for layout...with that single pixel gif column
Dynamic HTML
XML would save us
The “turbo” button on my pc
ISPs were local companies
Books were the only real way to learn new things
JavaScript had to be written to work in different browsers


"XML will save us". We're so much wiser now. Now we know that "Blockchain will save us"


In no order but random memories

  • Geocities
  • Angelfire
  • Homestead
  • Dreamweaver
  • MS Front Page
  • Fireworks
  • Submitting your site to massive lists / indexes
  • Ski Free
  • Hot Bot search engine
  • Dynamic HTML.. aka JavaScript
  • IRC Applets for embedded chats
  • AOL CDs as coffee coasters
  • cooltext.com for all my fire gif logos
  • Split window layouts defined by a lovely grey bar and removing horizontal axis scrollbars
  • Colouring the scrollbars
  • Asking for someone's name with a prompt to display "Hello Chris welcome to my site."
  • About me pages always contained a photo of a dog
  • Friends sending webpages with never ending alert boxes. Pro tip.. holding enter or space-bar to make the pain end quicker.
  • Background music in the form of midi files was a given.
  • Finding free hosting has never changed.
  • The feeling of installing a PHP / perl / cgi based forum with no other users was still an ohhh shit this is incredible moment.
  • The .tk domain
  • Asking for someone's name with a prompt to display "Hello Chris welcome to my site."

I laughed out loud :D


1983 - Seeing my program load on the screen character by character from a cassette drive (VTech Creativision console)
1985 - pr#1 to print, pr#6 to access the diskette (Apple II)
1986 - writing BASIC programs to transfer data from CP/M-equipped Apple IIs to Tandy TRS-80s.
1990 - writing Occam II programs on a 4-node Transputer farm.
1991 - working with Watcom C++ and 386 DOS Extender
1992 - Microsoft C 7.0 and Windows SDK

Dang, I'm old.


Flash being "the cool thing" (it's where I started coding with my best friend and in my opinion never stopped being cool!)

jQuery dominating the web ecosystem


I stayed away from flash because I never had a decent internet connection back then. I was always drawn towards plain HTML for the better 😂


NeoPets Personal Pages.

A single html file. Way too many <marquee>s


Any idea why NeoPets is excluded from the Wayback Machine:


Embedding a webring on the bottom of my geocities page.

Here is a weird school project from a net art class in 2002. It's really broken (no images). I used the slice tool in Photoshop when that was a relatively new thing.

I wish I archived a website I made my freshman year at RPI (IN THE YEAR 2000). It had horizontal scrolling, an imagemap, hover effects. The user could hover over a fullscreen photograph of a scene in a diner in upstate NY and see a caption that offered an anecdotal story about the table and what the people were eating and price of the dishes. It was a school project to advertise a business. Would still probably hold up today as an excellent concept for a restaurant site. It will be lost forever.


I used Basic on the C64. 😂

I remember my fellow students hyping the OpenMoko smartphones as THE place to be in terms of mobile development... Then Android and iOS came along.

I never made a Java applet, they were already hated quite much when I got onto the web, but I did some Flash cartoons. Saw many good people fall when Apple killed it, because they never learned code-based programming 😢

I learned C and Assembler on 8085 at school (went to an IT high-school) and Java on non-mobile devices 😂 at university, with enterprise beans, skelletons, stubs and what not 🤢

I remember Ruby on Rails being the hyped savior, like Elm a few years ago, and like Elm the well-know languages copied Rails' concepts and it simply became the new way of doing things.

I used components with ExtJS4 (called xtypes there) and VDOM like rendering with plain JS in 2011, so it felt totally naturally for me to switch to React later.

I didn't want to go into mobile development when I finished my degree in 2011, because I thought the hype was over, haha, started with it in 2017 and it's still a hot topic.


Yay! OpenMoko definitely was the bleeding edge of open source mobile tech. I purchased a Neo1973 and spent hours keeping it alive (hardware fault caused the battery to drain in ~4 hours!)..


Kitchen black and white TV plugged to my zx81 and to a tape recorder. Typing Basic code from magazines, sometimes assembly. Writing D6 programs to roll my D&D characters from the just released basic set (the red box).

  • Creating a personal site on Geocities with a background MIDI track and a guestbook
  • Aggressively using tables for layouts because CSS wasn't supported
  • People preferring Netscape Navigator over IE, well before IE6 even existed
  • Those Java applets of rippling water

All of my "old enough to remember" stuff is from childhood and early college:

  • When my dad brought home a series of TRS80s and, finally, an Apple ][
  • ...and then transcribing games from hobbyist magazines and then having to save to and load from cassette.
  • The godsend that our first 8" floppy drive was (and the the 5 1/4", and finally, the hard plastic, 1.44MiB "floppy" that now only endures as the "save" button icon)
  • Buying tubes of memory chips for that Apple ][ to upgrade it to 32KiB (and seeing adverts for expensive 128K RAM boards in computer magazines)
  • A 40MiB hard drive that took up as much space as the PC it was connected to did
  • When my dad brought home a compiler for BASIC that made stuff so much faster
  • How much easier it was to get my code to compile when I disabled the (default) pedantic mode ...and how much harder it was to move my code from one UNIX flavor to another for having done so.
  • Having to learn assembler to make programs that were usably-fast
  • After investing time in learning "assembler", that each CPU I'd want to write for, I'd have to learn a different "assembler" implementation
  • First time I accidentally implemented a fork-bomb ...and the only reason I figured it out was that each time I invoked my program, the remote telnet connection would drop and the system's uptime, when I was finally able to restart my session, would display a value that pretty blatantly corresponded to when I'd invoked my program
  • How bad it can be to name a function exit ...and how useful it can be if your intents are less than nice.
  • Page-long conditional #Include blocks in multi-platform source-code.
  • When Sun made the decision to stop including cc in their OS ...and having to ask our labs' SAs to install gcc when the there were too many users of the FlexLM-governed add-on compiler for Sun
  • Making the transition from aout to elf

From some of the things in my background, you'd almost think that I was a Real Developer™, but, when time came to transition from hobbyist to professional, all the jobs that were available were sysadmin type jobs. Now, coding is mostly in service to automating infrastructure. :(


So many good memories in this thread. Few of mine:

  • Early days learning BASIC from my Commodore Plus 4 manual.
  • Typing in programs from Amstrad Action magazine on my 464 Plus.
  • VB6 without which I wouldn't have become a "professional" programmer.
  • Classic ASP and VBscript.
  • Hand coding HTML in Notepad.
  • My first website on Geocities (happily mirrored here).
  • The sheer hell of developing sites for IE5 and IE6.

Using 8" floppy disks to boot a CP/M machine with a 12" wide 10 MB hard drive. The hard drive alone weighed 20+lb, 10+Kg.

Or, writing 6502 machine code by hand on a VIC-20.

Or, using Uniflex on a SWTPC 6800


effing DOCTOR THADDEUS OZONE, photoshop-hero. First wave of skeumorphism when it still was cool. DHTML realness baby. Check all of his stuff out, please.

dr ozone


Professionally, I am old enough to remember when IE6 felt like a godsend. We kept dealing with issues in the latest Netscape 4.5 release, that code often had to have specific workarounds for bugs in specific Netscape versions. IE6 was just the better browser...long before it became the ball and chain of the internet.


Unless you were someone that used multiple computers throughout the course of a day. I was so pissed when Roaming Profiles died.


I did my first project in basic with the commodore 64 and it changed the colors of the background and the characters.

The first difficult project in basic was the air balloon. I failed. One year later I had to copy the code of another person(Stackoverflow did not exist a programmer nightmare). I was 11/12 :D

  • my first line of Basic code. :)
  • a 286 processor with a 45Mb drive
  • Turbo Pascal and Turbo C
  • Z80 machines
  • HTML 4.01
  • going to friend's house with my 40kg PC for a game night

oh, what beautiful times were those...

  • Writing silly apps in BASIC for the family Amstrad 464 CPC when I should have been playing outside with friends
  • Creating a GeoCities website with images created using CoolText and PaintShopPro, when I should have been writing documents in my IT classes at school
  • Discovering an early version of OpenSuse in the store room at school and wanting to try it out (the packaging promised that you couldn't get viruses because of the way that Linux worked, and I wanted to know what that was)
  • trying to convince friends that the millennium bug was nothing to be worried about
  • Writing apps for a Motorola 68k in a similar configuration that the Mega Drive/Genesis had, at collge (I'm from the UK, so that means from the age of 16 to 18)
  • Playing around with the, band new out, GameCube devkits at university

Not super long ago, but I started Android dev back when Eclipse was the only option. Fortunately, just a few months later Google released Android Studio and Gradle as the build tool, and life immediately got significantly better for Android devs everywhere.


developing web pages to support both <div> and <layer>


I remember learning to use Marquee for web development class while I was in trade school. Web 2.0 was all the rage before Sun Microsystems was brought by Oracle.


My first websites were all about the marquee!


Yeah right Ben, your "first" websites?

We've all seen your personal site now. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!


The one that keeps coming up this week for some reason is that I was writing React back in the createClass days!


I remember my dad's punch cards. I remember when every computer at the department stores already had basic installed as an OS. I remember when Bill Cosby and Texas Instruments finally came out with a cable so I could plug my TI99 into to my cassette player and store my inventions without having to write them all down in a notebook and type them back in whenever I wanted to show them off to my friends... and yes, that constant refactoring made me the programmer I am today. :)


I'm old enough to remember Internet Explorer being a breath of fresh air after Netscape Navigator 4 stagnation.

Also, gorilla.bas in QBasic.

  • When my 386 was only really good for DOS and I used bash to write scripts/small interfaces to get around my system because Windows was hard to run
  • The Internet before GUIs. Lynx, IRC and a culture of safety and anonymity.
  • Modifying the school computers' autoexec.bat to prank/bork the boot up process.
  • When Google/Hotmail were brand new and Google wasn't evil.
  • Having my mind blown by Ubuntu 4.10 "Warty Warthog"
  • Using Dreamweaver 3.0 to create JavaScript enabled elements because JavaScript was optional and I didn't feel like learning it. To even use JS with a browser you had to get a 3rd party plugin to work.
  • When CSS was more work than it was worth.

Maybe not as cool as some of the real old guard, but I remember fondly.


I'm old enough to remember people complaining about people resisting Object Oriented Programming, but I never heard anybody actually resisting it at the time.


Cycling through 16 colours.

Layout with tables.

Creating a web page in Microsoft Word, and uploading it by FTP.

Editing a configuration file in text-mode to set-up the graphical mode on my computer.


Writing gotoand gosubstatements in Commodore (C64) basic


Operating system related

  • Modifying autoexec.bat and config.sys to customize msdos boot.
  • Net use to connect to shared resources

In web development

  • Using <!-- //--> to protect javascript scripts for non javascript browsers!

This book: Write Your Own Adventure Programs for your Microcomputer
Write Your Own Adventure Programs for your Microcomputer


Old enough to say that my first program was in Pascal.


canola is an emulator of the first thing I ever programmed: a Canon Canola calculator. I was in my second-last year of highschool. The year was 1977. I flowcharted with a stick in the sand of a nearby beach.


I learned to write RPG II on paper coding forms for an IBM System/36 at an IBM Guided Learning.

In college, in my only Computer Science class, I wrote Basic and Fortran programs with punch cards and had to wait until the next day to find out that my program failed to compile


I was reading in elementary school and one neighbor had a computer. I found a book "Basic" near to the monitor. I started to read and write some of the codes. I don't remember what I wrote but it was fun :)
I tried to draw somethings on black terminal screen with keyboard :p


Every time Microsoft brings in some flashy "new" thing, they break the compatibility of the old, or throw the "old" out of the window. Every. Single. Time.

  • Remember the incompatibilities between DOS 2.0, DOS 3.1, DOS 3.3, DOS 4.0, 5.0, etc?
  • Remember the data access methods, OLE, ODBC, DAO, ADO, and whatever the newer approaches were called that I've lost track of.
  • Remember the time Microsoft introduced the flashy "Silverlight"? Microsoft finally throw that into the ditch, and consequently throw our company, who relied heavily on Silverlight, under the bus as well.
  • Again, Every. Single. Time., the examples are endless.

Learning to program Basic from a photo copied thing that came with my second hand commodore 64 in 1987. My uncle's hand me down was the best thing ever and him including some manuals set me on a path to becoming a software engineer. I had a tapedrive, no disk drive, no modem, and did not know how to save my programs :-). My only sources of information were those manuals and library books. Everybody I knew at the time knew nothing relevant.

Using a browser for the first time after queue-ing to use the single terminal in the faculty with a gateway to the world wide web using mosaic in 1994. I had my own home page on the faculty's apache server a year later. HTML 3 seemed like an amazing upgrade.

Cycling home from university the next year with 27 slackware disks, which I downloaded from one by then 3 (!) internet capable HP UX terminals at the university. When I got home, I got busy installing and then had to cycle back because one of the disks was corrupted.

Teaching Java to first year students in 1996 and being amazed how well wordperfect ran in a beta of Java 1.02 for HP UX. By 1998 I was doing Swing applications (with the beta release) and implementing serializable application state that you could send over the network to another PC. Amazing progress in just a few years.



EMM386 and trying to reduce the source code enough so the Ada83 compiler could get the job done in less than 640k memory

Copying BASIC programs out from computer magazines, and then trying to find the typos

NCSA mosaic, finger, archie and gopher

The tag


Going on a job interview, back when high tech companies were coming and going in weeks. There were two things you always did, ask to use the employee restroom, and ask to see code on paper. If the TP was like printer paper,and the code was on paper better used as TP, do not accept any offers there :)


Trying to convince my management that this new "web" thing was going to completely replace their client-server development model... then proving it by writing their newest 6-month development effort over a holiday weekend in ASP.


I remember when the word "burnout" was used mostly in car racing. Now it's a thing I personally experienced more than once.

Also, WinAPI. It still gives me shivers.


Started coding with a TI-57, then TI-59 (Texas Instrument). Continued with 8-bit computers, in Basic, of course, and assembly language (converted to hexa code by hand).

I did lot of real-time software on 8-bit processors (6800, 6809, 6502, etc.)

I bought Visual Studio 1.0. It was a box of several kilograms, because it had a dozen of books / manuals with the floppy disks.

Also I coded JavaScript at a time where the only debug tool was alert()... (later, I added lines to a div)


My first computer was a Vic20, and the manual was HUGE! I learned BASIC and followed the lessons to make a Mars game -- tiny ship avoiding enemy ships, well, little blips, to reach Mars relatively unscathed. The program was in colour but my monitor was a small, black and white TV set. Too much fun!


When no one wrote any tests. None. Zero. Zilch. Nada!
It's true, and the code we wrote even worked without them.


Before we could write software, you had to format your hard drive. It was a three stage process. Pre-format using DEBUG (G=C800:5) then partition using FDISK finally a DOS format. Then you could install DOS/CPM and then crack on with BASICA/GWBASIC.