When Was Your First "Hour of Code"?

Put a kid in front of a computer, and you can change the kid -- and perhaps even change the world. That's the theory behind Hour of Code, a global event that introduces kids to programming. Just visit an Apple Store on Dec. 11, and you'll see the Hour of Code initiative in full swing. 

That got me thinking: When was the first time you sat down next to a computer and watched someone code -- or wrote some code yourself? For me, you have to rewind to about 1981 or 1982. My neighbors -- the Greiners -- had just purchased an Atari 800. At first, I was amazed by games like Star Raiders. But then I started watching my pals -- Kevin and Matt -- program a bit. 

They'd copy code out of a BASIC programming manual, bringing rudimentary games like Minotaur to life. But then, Kevin started writing games of his own -- including one called Jogger (a marathon simulation). And Matt plugged away on James Bond-style efforts.

Within a year, I convinced my dad to buy me an Atari 800 as well. And a few hours a week, I'd be programming too. It was an awkward time for me. Do I dive into sports in Junior High? Or dive into code at home? Ironically, I wound up doing both -- which means I mastered neither.

But the computer thing stuck with me. By the time I got to college, I was a weak programer with a strong interest in technology. That eventually led to an internship at IBM, then a journalism job at InformationWeek... and the rest is history.

Of course, my story isn't unique. Catch up with anyone in IT, and they can likely tell you about their first computer... Perhaps an Apple II, IBM PC, Radio Shack TRS-80, Commodore... Heck, you know the list. And quite a few of those folks tried their hand at programming.

And I bet that first computer -- or first BASIC program -- changed your life.

On December 11, you've got the chance to trigger a similar "a hah" moment with your son, daughter, relative or friend. Go check out an Hour of Code event.

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