My father built his first computer in the garage when I was about 8 years old. I remember watching him use wirewrapping to tie all of the components together. I don’t remember what processor it was, but I do remember that it had 8 toggle switches on the front and one switch for enter. He would enter machine code into the thing one byte at a time…. ugh.
He spent some time trying to get a hexadecimal keypad to work on that thing but finally gave up and bought an Ohio Scientific Challenger 4P. I was completely blown away by this thing. We typed in simple programs and saved them to tape. It used├é a black and white television for the monitor. I was about 9 or 10 years old and hooked.
Our next computer was an Apple II+. This was the computer that I actually learned to program on. Started out using BASIC typing in programs from magazines and such. It is amazing how well you learn to debug when you are typing in crappy code and don’t have├é a debugger. You learn intuitive debugging which is that sixth sense that tells you where the bugs are. Come on… you know what I’m talking about.
Later on we had a Forth environment and UCSD Pascal for the Apple which allowed me to expand my programming horizons into a more modern age. Our next computer was a hybrid Apple-CP/M system that basically let you dual boot between the operating systems. I guess my dad wanted to play with CP/M but didn’t want to lose all his Apple stuff. As I recall, we didn’t use the CP/M part much.
After that we got an IBM PC. One of the actual IBMs. I don’t remember much about this computer except that we had a killer submarine game for it. That was followed by a 286 which was when I taught myself C. I was dabbling with Desqview and Windows 286 at the time and wanted to understand how to develop on these new “windowing” systems. :)
After that I was pretty much a Microsoft Windows boy. I’ve had basically every processor and Windows version that has shipped since that 286 computer. Along the way I taught myself C++, MFC, and all the other technologies that are in my toolbelt. I did get├é a Computer Science degree at some point, but that was just busy work between parties and frisbee golf.