My First Program

first_computer_program

Nerds start somewhere. For me, it was Period 6, sitting in Room 201 at Alexander Fleming Jr. High. The year was 1979, the masterful teacher was Timothy Desmond and the language was FORTRAN.

Our first programming assignment was to print our name. We wrote out the program on a gridded sheet of paper, then carefully bubbled in punch cards. Our little stack of punch cards would be sent downtown to a mainframe and we’d get back the printout.

The crinkled edge makes it a bit hard to read, but the date of compilation was September 17, 1979.

Over three decades later, I can ssh into a Linux server in the cloud, use apt-get to install FORTRAN, enter the program using vi and then:

corey@hindmost:~/fortran$ cat first.f
C     CMT NAMELIST 1A
      CHARACTER N*20
      N='COREY OSTMAN'
      PRINT *,N
      STOP
      END
corey@hindmost:~/fortran$ gfortran first.f -o first
corey@hindmost:~/fortran$ ./first
COREY OSTMAN

For me, it didn’t stop with FORTRAN. I went onto learn BASIC, 6502 assembly language, Pascal, C, Perl, C++ and PHP. But it all started with printing my name.