When I was a kid, I had an Atari 400. I spent hours sitting in front of that thing, copying programs from magazines and running the games I’d made from them. When I wasn’t writing my own (even though I was copying things from Atari Age or whatever, I was slowly learning how BASIC worked and felt like they were “my” programs), I played the hell out of Star Raiders and Pac-Man, and States & Capitals (which was loaded from a cassette, because that’s how we did things back then).
After the Atari 400, I got a Texas Instruments TI-99/4a. I loved that computer so much, and it was in that machine’s TI-BASIC environment that I truly grokked BASIC programming. I wrote text adventures, a rudimentary database to store news events I made up for a UFO research project that I also made up, and when I wasn’t doing that, I played the hell out of the weird and wonderful video games that machine offered.
Around 1984, I got my first Macintosh, and the first thing I bought for it was whatever BASIC ran on the 128K OG Macintosh back then. I was so excited to get into that language, and start doing things that took advantage of the GUI and this thing called a mouse, but 12 year-old me just couldn’t wrap his head around the language. I don’t know if it actually, objectively sucked, but in my memory, it really sucked. Nothing made sense, nothing followed the conventions I had grown used to, and just getting programs to respond to the mouse was beyond me.
So it was, in 1984, that I gave up trying to open BASIC to write computer programs, and instead opened MacWrite, where I began to write stories. I also played the everlivinghell out of every Mindscape game I could get my hands on.
Fast forward to a a few weeks ago. I was looking through my Humble Bundle library, and noticed that I had a book in there that teaches Python. I flipped through it, and the curiosity that I had as a kid bubbled up to the surface of my mind. I went back to the beginning of the book, and began reading. I downloaded Python for my Mac, and I started copying down the examples, starting to figure my way around the most basic aspects of the language. I’m a few chapters into it, now, and bits of it are beginning to stick. I’m having a lot of fun breaking things and then putting them back together, and just remembering the joy of turning a set of instructions into something useful and fun, like I did when I was a kid.
I have no idea if I’ll see this through to the end, and I have no idea what I’d actually use the skills (if I can even master them) for, but I really need a hobby that isn’t also part of my job, and this seems as good as anything.
Who knows? Maybe I can finally finish that dungeon adventure I started when I was 10.