I first saw a computer when I was about 4 years old at my aunt’s printing house in Romania. It was a brand-new Pentium 1 (1994). At that time, we had a Dial-Up Internet Access with limited network traffic. It was only enough to download apps and games that can fit into a Floppy disc. We had multiple shoeboxes full of Floppy discs; 1.55MB data per disk. For today’s standards, it seems small, but it was able to fit a media player app, multiple utility apps, and what can catch the eye of a child, games. It also had a small app that was able to generate games and scenes. You did not need coding knowledge, only patience to grab a model’s arm and legs and give instructions it was able to do. Like walk, dance, sit, etc. It also allowed you to organize your environment with houses, decorations, streets, etc. It was fun. That was the time when I knew I want to understand how computers and computer programs work.
Although I was 4 years old, I also was not able to read yet; I was still more confident doing tasks based on the symbols than grownups. I had to see how someone else did something, and I learned it at that moment. As time went, Pentium 2 computers came along, I started to learn how to read and write, I helped in the printing house digitalizing first drafts for new books. It must have been around 1998 to 2002. I am not sure why, but I enjoyed every minute of typing on the keyboard and doing something useful with it. I still remember the scent of those computers combined with the smell of the big commercial printing machines that were popular at that time. If you Google for the Heidelberg Sordz printer, you will have an idea of what I am talking about. What I wrote, after some design added, was going out to the real-world by printing them on those big machines. It is a memory I like a lot.
I got my first PC when I was 14 years old in 2004.
- Intel Pentium 4 Processor 3.2Ghz
- GeForce2 GTS that later I upgraded to 6600 GT
- 256 DDR2 RAM I upgraded to 1GB
- 15-inch DELL monitor.
- A mouse, keyboard, and speakers.
- CD and DVD writer
That was the time when I spent a lot of time playing games and playing system administrator for my community, friends, and neighbors, and anyone who I got connected to through them.
I learned a lot about networking, IPs, firewalls, antivirus software, video encoding, utility apps and games, sound systems, everyone used. As a teenager, I spent quite a lot of time helping others, solving their PC problems.
I had one funny story when I was 16 years old.
Once I was called to an old PC, maybe Pentium 1 or 2. It just got an upgrade from a dial-up internet connection to an Ethernet one. Although the PC was slow for its time, I helped it with cleaning the dust out of it. But the real problem was with the Internet provider. When the PC owner, a dad of a 14 old girl (called Anett), asked what the problem with the PC is, I told him:
- “The PC is ok, but the problem is with the NET.”
That sounded for the father like that:
- “The PC is ok, but the problem is with ANETT.”
I think you can imagine the cold look I received before I understood why I received the reaction. Of course, I explained to them again, but it still was embarrassing for a while.
I learned a lot about system administration and to make small deals during my teenage years.
But it all changed when the graduation got closer, and the question of what I should do after I am leaving school got closer and closer.
I loved PCs, but I also loved Math and Chemistry. I was undecided for a while, but I ended up learning Programming and more about computers. I was a victim of the myth that programmers must be exceptional in math. I didn’t know much about Programming, but I liked maths a lot. I only read a few pages of a Java book and tried to write some Hello World console apps, but I didn’t understand well enough the industry I have to work in.
On the university’s website were a few tests that would tell you if a course would be ok for you, also what soft skills you would need for a specific industry. For programming, it said: I have to be a rational thinker. I did not understand what it meant, but I said: I can be anything. At the least, I will find out when I get there.
I ended up sending my application to the University of Debrecen in Hungary, where I graduated as a Software Information Technologist.
But that is a different story for another blog article.