Trying to remember how to code

Sinclair ZX81 - my first computer

Sinclair ZX81 - my first computer

I’m not a natural programmer, I seem to have stumbled into it over the years. At age 11 I wanted to design cars for a living; I spent hours up in my room transposing isometric drawings the hard way – with ruler and compasses.

Until, that is I was given one of these for Christmas – a Sinclair ZX81 – I remember seeing the ad for it in the Sunday Times and being utterly mesmerized.

The joy with which I hammered in my first

10 PRINT “HELLO DOMINIC”

20 GOTO 10

RUN

will always stay with me, indeed I still have that same feeling when I hit the “debug” button – it will never cease to amaze me how I can make these machines do exactly what I tell them…

…or not.

I’ll certainly never forget the grinding disappointment of spending literally DAYS typing machine code from the latest copy of “your Computer” (why such a crappy wikipedia entry? just a single listing could take it up to 20 pages!) into the ZX, hunched over with numb finger-ends from hammering the unresponsive flat plastic keypad, being oh-so-careful not to nudge the wobbly 16k RAM pack (my first mail order purchase) in case I lost everything… hoping against hope that when it was finished I would have a fully featured, working copy of Frogger only to get… nothing. No error message – just a black unresponsive screen.

This has been weighing on my mind since it became all too painfully obvious that I was going to have to pick up a .Net project that I haven’t looked at for 18 months – indeed it was 18months ago that I last opened Visual Studio and I’ll be honest – I have been panicking… my memory is not good at the best of times – it reminds me a little of that 16k RAM pack – small to start with and too hard a nudge and it’s all gone.

In my usual sphere of interest (design/vb-script/ASP/tridion – which tends to be a notepad environment) I all to often find myself stumbling over syntax – I know what I need to do, but I don’t know how to say it – I miss commas or famously spell “obj” as “obl”…

So wasn’t I pleasantly surprised?! As a fresh starter to VS I didn’t get intellisense at all – what was the point in it throwing all that green guff at me if I didn’t understand it? 18 months on it was like a gentle reminder that I had indeed learned all this stuff and this was what I had been going on about… It’s actually kind of like a supremely complex Sinclair Basic – you push the button and it writes what you want….

…Now all I have to do is convince the client that

“HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC” “HELLO DOMINIC”…

Is a worthwhile user interface…

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3 Responses to “Trying to remember how to code”

  1. Alastair

    Ah, the old zx, i was a bit young for one of those, but remember my dad hunched over one in his shed. No porn in those days. I remember my old Vic20 and BBC. I used to love typing out the programs from the BBC Mag. Due to typos’ they rarely worked lol!

  2. Marvin

    Funny I had a ZX81, my first computer, i too spent many hours programming Sinclair Basic, set me in good sted for my whopping 48K Spectrum i got next!

    you can update your code slightly using variables:

    10 LET MSG$ = “HELLO DOMINIC”
    20 PRINT AT 10,1; MSG$
    30 GOTO 20

    erm …. i’ll get my coat …

    Marv

  3. admin

    ‘s funny, I was playing “The hobbit” on a spectrum emulator just the other day. Even with a walkthru I gave up once I got to the goblin’s dungeon. Funny isn’t it, you remember these things with such fondness, spend ages trying to find them again – only to find they were actually pretty sh*t. “you are in the troll’s clearing… you wait, time passes… Thorin enters, Thorin sits down and starts singing about gold…”

    That’s some funky speccy lookin’ Sinclair basic there – I remember getting totally freaked by the concept of “variables” – surely if you’re printing at 10,1 all the time aren’t you just overwriting tho? – you might need to add some colour(!) – was so jealous of colour.

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