Why I Write Code

There are many stories I could tell about why I’m a software developer, but since my current topic [1] is text adventure games, here’s one that ties into that:

When I was in grade school, we acquired an Osborne computer. It was a hand-me-down from my grandfather, who had purchased it to run Visicalc (or something pragmatic like that). You could write programs on it in BASIC, though this version of BASIC made it difficult to get the programs from the back of 3-2-1 Contact to work (they included instructions on changes needed for common systems, which the Osborne was not).

It came with one game: Adventure. I was already an expert at the graphical Adventure game on the Atari (thanks to tutoring by one of my uncles), but this was different. You typed at a command line, instead of using a game controller. The computer interpreted this and responded with a game action (or not, if you couldn’t figure out the right commands). It was something of a disaster, in that I could barely accomplish everything, I was always struggling to work out what it wanted me to type, and I couldn’t save my progress, so every time I played I started over from scratch.

Still. That left a mark, the idea that I could type things into a computer and something else would happen. I think many of my later interactions with computers continued to be driven by that idea, that I would find something interesting if only I kept typing and reading the result.

[1] The previous topic was Antarctica. Thus the images of sled dogs and icebergs.

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