How old were you when you first learned to code, and what intrigued your interest in it?

I was, around 12 years old (1986 maybe). I remember my interests were cycling, reading, watching movies, thinking on going to the beach and stuff like that.

In Cuba we had no computers at home back then, but there were places named Joven Club de Computación (let’s call them “computer’s club”).

Well one day my father told me to visit a computer’s club near home because a son of one of his coworkers worked there. He though it will be a good opportunity to learn about computers, because computers will be the future and so on and so on, you know.. all the blah blah blah your parents always used to say.

Well I said “yes I will go” but I actually never went.. I was interested in cycling and roaming around the city, etc, etc.

So one day my dad asked me: have you visited the computer’s club?

ME: “No dad.. I have not”.

Dad: “Well my dear you take your bike RIGHT NOW and GO STRAIGHT TO THE COMPUTER’S CLUB AND ASK FOR LUIS AND BRING THIS PIECE OF PAPER WITH HIS NAME SIGNED BY HIM, OTHERWISE I WILL TAKE THE SH…. OUT OF YOU!!!” he yelled.

My God, I got really scared and went to …. that place….I was really upset… I asked for Luis, he showed up : “oh you are Ernesto, come on.. you know what: Im busy right now but read this book and try to apply what the book says by using this computer”. He showed me how to start the computer and left to the upper floor.

It was an MSX “intelligent keyboard” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MSX) and the book was about an introduction to programming in MSX Basic… and I sat there for I don’t remember how many hours; actually learning how to start a program in MSX Basic, the first “hello world”, how to run my program, what a variable was… conditionals, loops, and so on… I don’t know: I sat there like 8 hours, until Luis showed up again and asked me if I wanted to save my program, and taught me to save to a cassette in a tape recorder. (oh, and he signed the paper Dad asked me to bring back.. or I didn’t ask him for? I don’t recall now).

Anyway: I was totally amazed!! I could order to computer to do things… I could cycle, or print strings depending on a conditional statement, and so on and so on. Solve math of physics ecuations, code and print my biorhytm (remember that?), well it took me some time to do it but I ended up doing whatever i wanted with the computers.

Oh…. after a couple of week it was dad who was going to the Club to pick me up and to force me to go home to “eat something”

I went to the club as soon as it openned at 8 or 9am, and left only when they kicked me out of it at 10pm or when dad went to force me out of the club. I was even given the keys to stay during lunch break of the Club’s workers.

That was how I started… a brief summary of how I started in fact.

© 2019, eperez. All rights reserved.

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