How many people have you encountered in life that have really left a lasting impression on you for most of your life? I know of one that immediately springs to mind. My Grandfather, or Papa as we was affectionately known to all his grandchildren and great grandchildren.
When I was about nine years old my family returned back home to Scotland after living in Canada for four years. We lived with my grandparents for a few weeks before we had our own house. It was during this time that I encountered the first computer I had ever seen, a ZX81. It was the strangest contraption I had seen. My Papa showed me how to load games on it and type in basic instructions.
While this was my first encounter with a computer it wasn't my first introduction to programming. A little later on my Papa bought an Atari 800XL. During one of my many visits to my grandparents house, I watched my Papa typing furiously into his computer. I moved round to look at the screen and seen lines and lines of text with each line prefixed by a number.
Always inquisitive about stuff, I asked what it was and he told me he was typing in the instructions for a game into the computer or a program as he called it. Once all the instructions were typed in, you could run the game. He showed me the game once it was complete and explain what the different parts of the code do.
To start programming in your 50's is quite a feat, especially given the lack of programming resources and aids that were available at the time, but he was such a clever man and was always looking for something to dabble in.
Since those days of watching my Papa writing code on his Atari, I've always had a computer at some point in my life. From a couple of Spectrums I made the jump to a PC in the 90's. Through a number of different PC's I've ended up where I am today typing this on a MacBook Pro. What started out as a little hobby through my childhood has turned into a career that I thoroughly enjoy doing.
This morning my Papa, my first programming mentor, passed away.
It wasn't expected, but he was very old and suffered from a number of health issues including dementia and macular degeneration. Whether it's expected or not, it's always hard news to digest.
One memory that will always stick with me though is the hours he spent showing me what you can do with a few lines of code and computer. From those first days of writing programs in BASIC, it has shaped me into what I do today, a person who not only earns a living from writing code but also thoroughly enjoys doing it.
Quite a lasting impression I think you'll agree.