The Age of Punch Cards
When I was a kid I would go with my dad to his work at night sometimes. The room – something like 1500 square feet – was filled with cabinets that were computers. We're talking the early 1970's and he could only run the programs at night when the rest of the plant was shut down.
He would have that stack of punch cards that he'd run but if I recall, he'd put them into a smaller computer that would get the job ready for the mainframes. I was a kid, so who knows if I remember things correctly.
Programming as a Kid
My start programming computers was wildly different. I would buy a magazine and right in the middle – the centerfold, if you will – would be pages of code that you could transcribe into your computer (a personal computer running BASIC) and then run.
If you made a typo, the computer would tell you what line was wrong. You'd get an error that said, “IF without END IF on Line 120.” My dad thought that was cheating.
What kind of “interactive” coding was this? It tells you when you make a mistake and tells you where?
Apparently his punch card programming required that he figure out his own mistakes.
Tonight I was trying something new at begin.com.
I can't tell you much about it because while it sounded interesting (for building serverless applications that could easily deploy to AWS), I had to install several pre-requisites and I haven't finished the work.
- First I needed to install Node.
- Then I needed to install Deno.
- But I had a small problem with that, so I had to fix some permissions.
- Then I had to install Git.
- Then use npm to install Architect Command Line Interface (CLI).
- But I had some issue there. Some libraries needed to be updated.
- Then I went to install the AWS CLI interface but my Python was outdated.
That's where I paused to write my daily post.
And I realized something.
Things Sure Have Changed
In my dad's programming world, you wrote code and if there was an error, you had to figure it out yourself.
In my early days of programming, you wrote code and if there was an error, you were told where it was and what kind of error it was.
In my child's days of programming (today), you write or run code that you can pull from the internet (and tons of great documentation), and if there is an error, you are not only told where it is and what kind of error exists, but you can also look up the error (like libraries needing different permissions or needing updates) and find the code you need to run to fix it.
In other words, there's absolutely nothing stopping you from trying new things.
So all I want to tell you today is to keep trying and keep learning.