Reading through a mother’s experience of exploring Haskell with her ten year old son has me reflecting on my own lifetime and childhood experiences with computers and programming. The Haskell language by many, is often seen as archaic and too academic, but that didn’t stop this ten year from intuitively making a stab at some of the aspects of prefix notation and the Hindley–Milner type system.
My own experience as a nine year old is a little different, finding the QBasic program tucked away within the Windows 98 Second Edition installation disc. Then it was a case of reliving my previous exposure to BASIC from when I was loading cassettes on the Amstrad in my pre-school years.
Amstrad CPC 464 Plus. Photo taken from Retro Treasures
Computers throughout childhood, generated a unique draw for me, and I had a profound sense of curiosity always for them. From the graphics generated on screen, to the lightning-fast crazy arithmetic, to the interaction and gameplay, I always intuitively understood that computers were valuable and important.
Then along came my experience of the Internet, and it seems like the hard work of digging out the reference manual or dealing with silly frustrations and figuring them out, died with it.
I often see articles and posts circulating the Internet about the demo scene and retro computing, and often wonder are those that are involved in these hobbies trying to relive that aspect of computing that involved that curiosity to work through the simplest of issues, with the most delayed of gratification.
The great landscape of computing and all the benefits it now brings us, rests on this previous generation, and while I would never want to revert progress, I often reflect on my life experiences with fondness.
There is still fascination to be found in computing, and today a person of the next generation has found it toying with Minecraft and Haskell.