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

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Thomas H Jones II

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. :(