Shawn Driscoll's Tech Blog

Stuff That Happened in the Past

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


Yesterday, I started learning a computer programming language called Python.

Maybe I should rephrase it as:
I've programmed many computers using many programming languages and even no languages (meaning using just machine code) since 1975. It has had its ups and downs. Even computer programmers can get writers block and/or lose interest because of other hobbies and real life, etc. But now Python has reversed this trend.

I had heard about Python years ago. In computer years, it was probably 20+ years ago. But it was actually around 2004. Anyway, 3D software came with Python (Poser, modo, and Vue are some) so users could run Python scripts to speed up their modeling/texturing process in those applications. At the time I was programming in C after using so many other languages in the past, and I was kind of excited about learning C++ (and kind of not also). But I had not heard anything bad about Python from anyone. I just figured that maybe not many people were using the language.

Let me just flat out say right now that I have always liked programming computers when the program itself did something fun. Like a computer game. But even some of that programming can get boring. Well, I have found that the more boring a programming language is, the less fun it is to write any programs with.

I am from the old days when a ^G made a teletype's bell ring. In BASIC, it was PRINT CHR$(7). And ^H or CHR$(8) was BACKSPACE. Look up what a DECWriter II is.

What are the old days? They were the time when anyone that had a computer, had to write their own programs for it. They were the time when a computer's entire DOS -- "Disk Operating System" fit in less than 16K of RAM. A typical computer had between 16K and 64K of RAM total. A video screen used up 16K of RAM. And there were no hard drives.

People wrote small programs back then. But programming wasn't exactly fun. Especially with the machine language some of those CPUs used back then. Some people lived by KISS -- "Keep It Simple, Stupid" and designed the best programs they could with what they had (me being one of them). But over the years, computers became more boring (a choice of either IBM or Mac) and languages got uglier and programmers got sloppier. And bookstores were full of programming books for ASM and COBOL and FORTRAN and ALGOL and MODULA and APL and PL/1 and DB-II and BASIC and VISUAL BASIC and FOXPRO and PASCAL and C and ADA and LISP and FORTH and SMALLTALK and then later full with SQL and NOVEL and .NET and ORACLE and C++ and JAVA and C# and PERL and RUBY and IPHONE/IPAD and...

Ok breathe.

So anyway. Yesterday, I started learning Python. It is probably the one most single amazing computer-related thing I've encountered in my 35+ years with this hobby. I wish that Python existed in 1975.

1 comment:

  1. Yep, I remember those teletype graphics...just keys going clackety clack on a continual roll of paper. We've come a long way.