My First Code

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My first bit of coding wasn’t a webpage or application but a laserdisc controller. The RA Gray IDC-02 was a small metal box about half the size of a standard book.  I remember I was handed this device and told to re-engineer the functionality to an existing installation.  I used Happ Control arcade style buttons connected to a button encoder which plugged into the IDC-02 via DB-25 connection.  It was a hands on learning experience. I soldered a lot of RJ-11 to DB-25 serial cables making sure I got the pins correct in order to tell the Pioneer LDV-8000 Laserdisc player where to go.

RA Gray IDC-02. Thanks for the team at RA Gray Controls Division of The White Rabbit Company, Inc for providing this image. I was sorry to hear about a fire that destroyed all their media assets for their legacy products over a decade ago.

Whenever I describe programming to someone I start off with the most basic logic statement, IF/THEN. If it is raining, then take an umbrella. That’s how I learned it back in the day. In fact I can tell you that I used it all the time. As I learned more about coding  and various techniques my process improved.

I’m embarrassed to say my code for this project included at least 20 or 30 different IF/THEN statements. If button five is pressed then go to and play frame 2245 on this laserdisc. I’m pleased  to say I quickly learned more efficient logic structures such as SWITCH statements which look like this:

What this means is that if Button Five is selected then go to frame 2245. If Button Six is pressed then go to frame 5030. The syntax could look different depending on the programming language, but the functionality is the same.

I’ve come along way since those early years and I appreciate new techniques that are more sophisticated, modular, and efficient. On the Windows side, I’m digging into and becoming more comfortable with WPF/XAML  DataBinding and finally getting a firm grasp of the MVVM design pattern. On the OSX/iOS side I’m receiving a long overdue re-introduction to  Xcode and Objective-C (maybe Swift might be the answer).

What did you do 20+ years ago? Have you improved your process? Do you smile at your growth?

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