My early memories of programming

My earliest memories of programming are directly related to the pain of not being able to save my work.

The first proper computer my family owned was a Commodore Vic-20. I guess my parents bought it in 1984 or 1985 but it might have been earlier. The Vic-20 came out years before but this was recession hit 80’s Ireland. I’m pretty sure the computer was bought in O’Callaghan’s shop, where the betting shop is now on Pembroke Street.

I remember copying a flying bird BASIC listing from the Vic-20 manual one school morning, and I think I made it fly left and right too. What made it stick in my mind was the anguish I felt because I couldn’t save it. We had a Vic-20 you see but we didn’t have a datasette that could record or play back data on cassette tapes. I left the machine on while I went to school which was risky because they had huge heavy power supplies that had a tendency to overheat (not that I knew that then!) Thankfully we did get a datasette later because I remember playing Wacky Waiters on it. Or it might have been some sort of interface that let me plug a regular cassette player into the Vic-20. Chip Electronics sold them in clear plastic bags I think. All a little hazy now unfortunately!

So, thanks to this site I was able to track down a scanned copy of the Vic-20 manual and immediately jumped to the Flying Birds bit. A little bit of rose tint nostalgia on a murky Friday evening almost 30 years later.

What got you into programming?


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7 thoughts on “My early memories of programming


  1. Me too! :) So crushing to do all that typing and not be able to save it. :)

    I think the first thing I did involved colored bars across the screen. Ye,s it was the 80’s and I was a girl. :D


    1. Oooh, I did a coloured bars thing too. It was practically the first thing I did when I started machine code on the C64 as you can increment the border colour register really fast :)


  2. I was about 5 years behind you on a Commodore 64. Same problem no way to save. Copied and reworked several programs, but I had an added frustration. Our whole area would lose power about 5-10 times per week. No warning. No pattern. So I started over a lot.

    Each time I started over, I got faster, and tried new things that I would not have tried if that section was already “done”.

    These days I have to accidentally delete files to get that level of creativity.


  3. I used to buy Quest magazine religiously when I was young. It was one of those ring binder, collection type magazines that were popular in the early 90s on subjects like knitting. But Quest was a science,history magazine and I loved it. Anyone know what I’m talking about? Very little information about it online.

    In the computer issue it had a huge 1000 line database program for the C64 which I had to code in by hand but my sister turned off the C64 to play a game before I had a chance to finish it! Couldn’t save either of course. God, Kids these days have it easy with all the information and knowledge they have at their fingertips, but they waste their time on Facebook and watching cat videos on Youtube!

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