My name is Michael Goodfellow. The first time I touched a computer was probably in 1971, and I immediately wanted to know how to program it. I worked in the software industry from 1975 to 2005, when I retired on disability. And yes, I still write code. Who knows why?
My first programming language was APL, Ken Iverson's very mathematical language, which required its own special keyboard to use. It was pretty much the antithesis of any kind of modern structured programming language. People used to have "1-line function" contests to see how much you could pack into a single line of (nearly unreadable) code. I taught myself the language from the book, and wrote a few games, played on typewriter-style printing terminals.
Working for IBM during the summers, I learned IBM's PL/1 programming language. Summer students were regarded mostly as semi-useless PR gestures. My first summer, a typical assignment was for someone to drop a 100 page printout on my desk and say "This doesn't work. Fix it." That was all the documentation I would get! The first time I actually did fix something, they decided I was worth bothering with.
After a few summers working on everything from mainframe microcode to applications programming, I was hired full time. I eventually made my way to IBM's Research Division. During my time there, I worked on an early text formatting system, microcode for an experimental display, and wrote the window manager and some applications for a research operating system. A lot of the application code was written in Pascal. Somewhere along the line, I learned C and then C++, back when it was implemented as a translator that created C code.
I left IBM for a short stint at Oracle, then did a couple of startup companies. I ended my work career doing miscellaneous contracting until my health problems caught up with me (I've used a wheelchair since I was 7.)
The first computer I bought was an Apple II, in 1979, which I programmed mostly in 6502 assembly language. Since then, I've bought far too many computers, both PCs and Macs. I think I now have 5 systems sitting around in one state or another, not counting parts in boxes. They run Windows 7, Windows XP, Mac OS and Linux, depending on what I feel like doing with them.
I grew up reading about computers in science fiction. I probably felt the same
way working in the computer industry as the early NASA people felt when working
on Apollo. I've never been interested in doing anything else.