Thursday, April 19, 2007

Once a Programmer

I’m wondering if I’m going to miss writing computer programs. Since I was 17 years old, I’ve been fascinated with creating algorithms in code.

After my junior year of high school I attended a summer math camp at FSU, where I learned FORTRAN II. At that point in time we had to enter our programs on punch cards and wait for hours or even overnight for the results. I remember the excitement of completing a program successfully, especially if I got it right before my nerdy boyfriend Steve did.

My first real job was in the Computer Center of FSU where I was hired on at $2.35 an hour. What did I do? I gave tours of the Computer Center, maintained the library of magnetic tapes, and worked as an operator several shifts a week. And did I mention that I learned how to juggle? FSU had a circus and it turns out that everyone in the Computer Center could juggle. It was sort of a prerequisite for working there!

With an undergrad degree in math, computer programming was about the best job I could hope for. Along the way I wrote programs in FORTRAN, Autocoder, IBM Assembler, COBOL, and SAS. Each one was different, with SAS making me the most productive.

Often I have solved a programming problem in the middle of the night. That actually happened to me last night, landing me in the office at 6 AM this morning. The problem was solved by 9 AM as I drank my morning tea.

I have resolutely been telling people that I’ll never write another line of SAS code after I walk out of my office for the last time on May 3. As I was treated to lunch by a friend today, she asked “Will you miss programming?”

I began to wonder about what would take the place of this intriguing series of languages that have equipped me to solve the world’s data problems.

As I sat in a planning meeting for Temple Micah’s High Holy Days, I found myself volunteering my programming skills to help my husband with a change to the website.

I just may miss this thing that has tied my brain up in knots at times, but has also afforded me not only a good income but a feeling of great satisfaction over the years. I may well miss it.

6 Comments:

Blogger Reya Mellicker said...

You're so good with languages of all kinds. Won't it be nice to program for fun?

8:41 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Reya -- I had never considered programming for "fun". It's always been a means to an end -- a way to get the rat through the maze. Perhaps I could have fun teaching kids to program. But I will never again have a job as important as the one I have now. I'll have to see...

8:55 AM  
Blogger steve said...

I don't know anything about it except to say you are a PERL!
(I ghope thats a good thing)

1:30 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

It will be interesting to see how the programmer in you manifests in the retired you.

1:37 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

I am with Reya, if it is so in your blood, you can always program for fun.

Personally, I would suggest woodworking.

9:35 PM  
Blogger Mother of Invention said...

Maybe you'll miss it for a SHORT while, but as you ease into retirement mode, your days will fill up with so many other things, you won't think twice. You can always offer a program at the Library or go to people's houses to help them or even at a high school.

9:42 AM  

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