I remember my first computer fondly. As a kid I was more than addicted to the Commodore 64 – perfectly happy to sit and endure at least 5 minutes of the most colourful, potentially epileptic attack you can imagine, simply to have a few games of Boulder Dash. It was worth every photon, without a doubt.
Today its mechanical keyboard, beige plastic casing, and whopping 64 KB of memory condemns it almost exclusively to a quiet life of nostalgia… and some weird Internet forums. But back then it was the most fascinating thing 11-year-old me had ever seen.
Between games of Boulder Dash, sheer curiosity would keep bringing me back to this bright blue screen with hideous white text, wondering what else it could do. Gradually I discovered new commands that made it do other things, besides just LOAD – although I still typed that often enough to cause the dog to eat a lot of my homework.
In time I realised that the machine could run code called BASIC, and that I could simply type it in and then type RUN to make it do things. Being 11 and fearing the inevitably gradual violation of personal privacy by government, the first program I wrote was a password program.