I remember when I studied Latin Mathematics at St. Rombouts College in Malines, Belgium. That was from 1978 to 1984. We had to buy a scientific calculator for mathematics classes. My parents bought me a HP-10C. I loved to spend time writing and executing small programs on this calculator.
Somewhere around 1982, 1983 a Texas Instruments computer was for sale at the local supermarket. There was a model in exposition, free to use and try out. While my parents did their shopping I started to read the manual and actually typed in my first BASIC program, copied straight from the manual. That really made me want to get my hands on my own computer, but right then the price was a real obstacle for me.
In the summer of 1983 my father told me that there had been a spectacular price drop in the Commodore 64. One day we went to Brussels by train. Together with one of my father’s colleagues we went to a shop and I spent about 16,000.00 BEF (sixteen thousand Belgian Francs) to get my hands on this computer.
On my own I experimented a lot with BASIC. Later I bought a manual and learnt the C64’s machine code. I programmed Conway’s Game of Life in assembler because it was way too slow in BASIC. That last year of secondary school I spent more time playing and programming on my C64 than studying.
Then there came along a moment of decision: keep studying or start to work. At that time I really was an introvert out-of-the-world older kid and I felt anything but ready to start working. So I decided to grab my father’s offer to keep on studying. Most fellow students of my grade decided to become civil engineers. But the five years of that study and its technical contents really scared me off. So finally I decided to study “Informatica” at the Brussels Free University.
But basically I had already learned how to program on my own before I decided to get that formal study. The first year at the university was mostly filled with mathematics and little information technology. But each year there was more computer stuff and less mathematics. In the second year of my study I sold my C64 and bought an Atari 1040 STf. I learned to program in Pascal, Cobol and Modula-2.
I graduated in 1988 on the thesis “Functional Abstraction to Support Rapid Compiler Construction”.
Since 1988 I am working as an analyst and programmer in the information technology field, mainly using Oracle databases and Oracle’s Developer programming environment. I have also set up several web sites since 2001, using plain HTML, PHP, or ready made software like Content Management Systems.