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I started programming in Year 9, via the Angle Park Computing Centre:

My first programming language was APL, the second, PL/I... and when I saw
BASIC third, and had to use line numbers and write out loops explicitly, I
thought "Yuk!".

My entire academic career was affected from the moment that I was exposed to
APL/Angle Park... other subjects declined as I was so focussed on programming.

The Facility did have a physical "Turtle" for Logo execution... and I found
out, much later, that it was implemented in Lisp... but I didn't get into
that side of things...

...I was into maze-generation, and optimising the code for speed; for a while,
the facility used my code because it was faster than the earlier code.
However, my code, using simple squares for cells, was substituted a little
while later by a version that used hexagons.  One of the neat things about
the hexagon version is that you could come up with all sorts of interesting
boundaries for the maze, with a library of good 2-D approximations of many
different interesting objects for the user to choose from, and the random
number generator likely creating a different maze each time.

My obsession with speed pushed me down into looking at assembly code (first
Z80, and later a number of others), microcode (I looked but never touched;
I think the machine I looked at was an ICL Perq), and, at tertiary level,
helping, in a team, to design and implement a very small full-blown custom
VLSI circuit (recasting an existing working circuit into a more
scalable/malleable component-based framework) as part of the Mead and Conway
VLSI projects of the early/mid 1980s (using nMOS; CMOS came along about
3-4 years later).

There are a whole raft of people that I came to know from those intense
high-school days, quite a number of whom have gone on to do amazing things,
and whom I admire greatly.

There was a high level of input from the local Mathematical Society into
the original Angle Park concept, which is why APL was introduced so early.

I still hold a special place for APL in my heart, such as a demonstration
of how Conway's "Game of Life" can be implemented in *a single line* of

So, more than almost anything else, my "Need for Speed", built upon an
APL starting point, is how I got into programming.