Atari 2600. This was my first meeting with a computer. I was just a kid about 4-5 years old. I still remember those black joysticks and that Ping Pong game, which me and my kid sister could not stop playing for days on end. Dad was always in line for the second joystick to play with me and I loved to play with him.
Human memory is a complex mechanism. And God knows how the hell it works. But I can guarantee that the most delightful moments of your life will stay in your memory forever. I can't forget those times. They were amazingly fantastic! But it was just a beginning and light preparation for great times.
My mom had a friend Lucy who worked in at the Odessa State Environmental University. This is in Ukraine, where I am originally from. Lucy worked as a head teacher of Computer science. She had a friend who was selling ZX Spectrum home computers. I knew it and was so passionate about that. I was constantly bothering my parents and after some time became a happy owner of one of those PCs. Basically, it was just a keyboard with all the "brains" inside of it. It didn't have a monitor, so you had to connect it to your TV set, which was used as a display. For some reason, our TV set did not have the needful input. It was the biggest disappointment henceforth of my entire life. Almost surely, I cried. But, in a few days the guy who sold us computer, came to our apartment and soldered the input right into TV set. Hard to imagine nowadays. That day has changed everything and I couldn't stop "using" the PC even for one second. Of course, Spectrum could not read compact disks. It couldn't even read diskettes, which you may still remember from old computer classes. All the data was recorded to audio cassettes. The PC was connected to my Sharp cassette player, which served as a "CD-ROM" and sound output at the same time. Still, it may sound a little bit weird to have a game or program on an audio cassette. Just recently, I realized that this was my first coding experience. Because between playing games, I was also playing with BASIC, high-level programming language, which was a heart of Spectrum. I was 7 years old kid. At that moment I fancied myself an engineer, who had a secret lab; all that missing was a white lab coat. My eyes were full of happiness every time I had a minute to "play".
When I was 10 years old, my friend told me that some guy bought around 8 personal computers and is was going to open gaming club in our hood. I couldn't believe it. I had several gaming consoles, but always dreamt to try a real computer. He said that computers have already been moved into the building. It was a musician school building and the club had to be opened on a first floor. When he said that it's going to be the first floor, my first words were: "Show it me!" We went there and climbed on a window guard to look into the window. Here they were! Real personal computers. It's hard to convey the feelings of everything that was happening inside of me. A mix of ecstasy, trance and incredible satisfaction. In a few days they opened the club. At the same time they opened a door to my second home. The club operated 24/7. Do I have to say how much time I was spending there? I guess not. In a few months they started to propose a Computer Basics course which I successfully finished. Then I had a very basic course of Pascal programming language. My parents were probably worrying about their son being absent for whole day(s). In two years, when I was 12 years old, they bought me a computer. In a few more years my parents decided that I need to learn the computer deeper. Mom's friend Lucy proposed a teacher from university, who wanted to earn some extra money. For $20 per lesson, I started to learn C and later C++. At that moment we already had internet and when I was 16, I found Perl book, available to read online. Usually I went to sleep at 6 a.m. or around. Every night I was learning new code and building my first web application. Even once coding for 23 hours straight. Of course, not for a money. It is unforgettable time.
Right now is 3 a.m. I'm almost twice as old. My eyes are full of happiness every time I use my computer. I'm full of ecstasy every time I build new applications. My passion keeps increasing every day, every hour, every minute.
I recently caught myself on an interesting fact. During my short career (8 years), I never had a vacation for pleasure. Every vacation had a defined purpose. The period between my last two vacations was 3 years. Most people would like to relax and do nothing for at least one week during 3 years of work. Not me. I had 3 years of vacation and one hard week after. I had my first real vacation two months ago. I can't complain, it was a great a week. But I couldn't leave my passion for too long.
This blog post is not about me. It's about passion which was with me throughout whole life. I really like people who have passion. It's pleasure to work with them, because you both know that nothing is impossible. Unfortunately, I only know a few of them. If you can't do your work for 23 hours just for a pleasure -- quit and find your passion.