Why Should You Learn to Program?

Learning to program computers has had so much impact on the quality of my life that it is almost impossible to adequately describe. It is my favorite pasttime; it's how I make my living; it helped me build self-confidence about myself as an awkward child and teenager; it has led me to work and make friends with some awesome people; and it has helped me provide a much better life for my children than probably any other profession I could have chosen.

I have never quite done things the same way as others. I didn't learn to program by taking courses, for the most part, and I don't intend for this to be a programming book just like any other or go about writing it like others would.

Moreover, I want to provide those that don't fit the traditional educational model for one reason or another a great option for learning how to write software, whether that is because they are too poor, too young, too old, in the wrong place, too shy, too hyperactive or whatever the reason may be.

I first learned to program as a bored young farm boy in rural Mississippi in the late 1980's and early 1990's. It began after my brother got his first decent paying job. At first he didn't have a place where his wife could stay with him where he was working which was several hours away by car. He decided to buy her a computer while she was staying with my mother and me. Well, no one ever took any interest in that thing, and it became mine by default. That computer was a Tandy 1000 SX which came with DOS 3.2 which included GW-BASIC.

I had no one in my family and no friends who lived nearby who had a computer, so at first I read all the manuals. I mean all of them. I read every single word of the DOS reference for example, which didn't actually help very much. After a while a coworker of my mothers gave me some PC Computing maganizes and a book called Beginning Programming on the IBM PC by Nancy Lee Olson.

That book was a lifesaver since it was written for the same type of BASIC interpreter as I was using, and it was oriented towards kids, to the point of having Bubba the Beaver in many of the examples. From then on, I was hooked and progressed up the ladder of learning more about programming languages and computer science, ususally one borrowed or second hand book at a time.

So in many ways, I want to use this book to give back to all the modern kids out there. Today we have the Internet and all that entails, but not everyone has it, and it can be a rough and confusing place for the young or the novice.