Any other old-school programmers getting back into it?

If so - what are your (or what would you suggest) tech/programming New Year resolutions to be?

My quick backstory - I was actually pretty proficient as a programmer 30 - 35 years ago (no valve jokes please) being brought up by a father who worked on early-warning RADAR systems for the RAF (Fylingdales) and taught me machine code on programmable calculators and later on the ZX-es and various 6502 machines of the day. Being into music I wrote a few programmes for the C=64 that were published in some of the then ‘listings’ - type magazines (I’ve lost them all unfortunately).

I went into a career as musician and composer for the last 25+ years and basically got out of programming, becoming just ‘a user’.

Then recently I got into VBA for Excel out of neccesity and dabbled in a bit of Javascript and PHP and am now fiddling with Xojo. I’m loving getting back into programming again and wondered if there’s anyone else out there with a similar experience? I feel like I’ve missed out on so much and it’s all a bit mad getting into it again after such a spell away (I mean the number the number of different systems and languages you need to learn now is just insane…)

So my resolution is to learn some more about Unix and bash - you?

Anyway, whovever you are - hope you had a great Xmas and a Happy New Year!

Richard, I believe that you will find a number of older programmers using Xojo. I am one of those (58 and retired). I began programming on DEC PDP 11s, HP desktop calculators (9825) followed by CDC and IBM mainframes, Apple IIe, Commodore 64, Compaq PCs, DEC VAX, Cray Supercomputer, SEL Mini, multiple microprocessors and microcoded machines, and now on MACs. I have coded in assembly, Fortran, C/C++, Python, Livecode and of course Xojo. My resolution for this year is to get an app ready for the Apple MAC store. I have it ready but want it to be 64 bit and use LLVM for speed first. I code now just for the fun of it. I will code as long as I can press keys!! Good to hear from you and good luck.

From the same era I used the HP 9830A. We had most of the options.

Karen, it was the HP calculator that got me hooked on programming. Up until using that machine my experience with computers were punching cards for batch input on IBM mainframes and waiting hours to days to get results. I began absolutely hating computers at first, but when I was able to type code into the HP and get immediate results it changed my perception of computers forever.

At the R&D centre where I started out, we used a HP 85 computer with a data logger that we connected to different instruments, and a HP 87 with a dot matrix printer and a plotter. I created a BASIC program that ran in two parts: one captured the raw data (on the HP 85, through the data logger), and the other (running on the HP 87) did the statistical analysis. I used a floppy disk to transfer the data between computers, and also to save the program. That was early '80s. Our cool spreadsheet was Visicalc. We soon moved to the revolutionary new IBM Pc with Lotus Notes.

Good to hear from you all - nice to hear of your experience. I actually still have my first ‘big’ computer - a Rockwell AIM 65 (which sadly no longer powers up - I’m hoping it’s an easy fix). Here’s a picture I tweeted a while ago

I’m probably one of the youngest active members of this forum but there are plenty of older people on these forums (some of which have been just getting back into programming).

I just wanted to say welcome back! Xojo has a great community that can help you. What kinds of stuff did you use to program?


Richard, I am going to overstate the obvious here. Things have changed a little since you have been away from bit hacking. One of the most welcome changes is the very forum you are on now. Instead of being isolated in the way you learn this language and solve issues, you can access the wealth of brains this forum offers. Other forums I have been on in the past are rife with snobbery and condescension where you are reluctant to ask any question without preceding it with “I know this sounds like a dumb question, but…”.
No sir, there is none of that here. I think you will find that most of the contributors here are courteous and helpful sometimes with a bit of Pythonesque humour thrown in.

I started programming on an Acorn BBC-B, 32KB Ram, two double sided parallel floppy disks with a Watford Disk interface.

I still have that machine which is in working state. Wrote a lot of software with it. I used BBC-Basic together with assembler code for the 6502 2Mhz processor. It was a machine its time far ahead.

I also used Forth, Logo, Pascal, Viewsheet (a spreadsheet). These where interesting times. 14 years ago I bought a Commodore C64 for 50 euro. Compleet with monitor, joysticks and games. I only bought the C64 as a collectors item.

In between the BBC-B period and when I started RealBasic, I used Visual Basic 4 and 6, 4th Dimension, C, Visual FoxPro Mac 2.6 and 3.1, Visual FoxPro Windows 6 and 8. Then I used around 1999 RealBasic version 2 and 2.1, decided that it was not usefull enought that time and kept using Visual FoxPro, until RealBasic version 5.2 came out somewhere in 2004 I think. Since then I only use RealBasic, Real.Studio and now Xojo.

Nowadays, I work on several projects with Xojo. We are also building a chicken incubator which is automaticly controlled by an Arduino Galileo. Xojo is used to remotelly control the incubator, read out the realtime information and control it. For the last almost 3 years, I found myself involved in projects I never could have dreamed of before. Xojo certainly opened places for me whcih otherwise should remain closed. I do not consider myself a professional. I always liked programming and still do very much. I had a lot of problems back them switching to the object oriented programming, however now I do not want to return any longer to before.

I still always learn something new about Xojo, which makes it interesting.

Welcome to this community, you will find it very helpfull and friendly. In fact there are a lot of true professionals here with a lot of experience. When you need help, just post your question on this forum and you receive a solution in no time.

I like discussing the good old days very much. So your posting is a very interesting one.

Happy developing.

Hi Richard,

Glad to see there are other programmers with a few grey cells such as yourself. Similar to Tim, I also am a grandfather and have some strong genetic traits for refusing to turn my hair colour to grey :slight_smile:

Yes, your story with being forced into VBA was similiar to mine and then developing computer solutions just accelerated from there.

There has been many changes from 25 years ago and Xojo is a good tool to provide a transition from VBA (Excel and Word books have been written on the topic at by yours truly).

As a New Years resolution, I plan on writing more books so that fellow programmers can create even more solutions to practical applications using Xojo.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and wishing all a joyous New Year!

Looks like there are quite a few of us oldsters around – I’ll be turning 64 soon :(. I started on a DEC 2020, accessed from a Teletype ASR-33 over a phone line with an acoustic coupler and with punched tape as the “storage medium”. Then I bought my first computer, a set of Cromemco S-100 boards stuffed into a cheapo cage with a serial terminal (complete with CRT monitor!) and a 5 1/4" floppy disk drive (no more paper tape!). I learned Basic, Z80 assembler and a bunch of other stuff. On the basis of this vast experience, I joined the staff of Personal Computer World magazine in the UK as assistant editor and then editor, for four years. After that, programming interactive videodisks in C, moving to Spain to develop software for ATMs, also in C, and now doing bespoke stuff with RS (I’m waiting for the bug reports to die down before buying Xojo).

I still have my Cromemco RAM board, stuffed with a massive 64 kbytes.

I also have a Sinclair Spectrum somewhere. I was the very first person in the world to order one. I was at the launch Press conference and since at that time computer companies were notorious for taking your money and then taking months to deliver, I asked Clive Sinclair what the delivery time would be. “If you order one today, you’ll get it in two weeks,” he stated. They had thoughtfully included an order form in the Press pack, so I filled it in and handed it to him personally. Two weeks went by and no Spectrum appeared, so I called his PR person to ask where it was. Turned out that Clive had stuffed my order in his pocket and lost it, so would I kindly send in another order? "Does this mean I’ll end up with two Spectrums? “No, of course not,” he replied.

You guessed it, I ended up with two Spectrums.

I am pretty old myself. Sometimes I refer to my age as “BC” (Before Computers).

I started out doing programming on a Datapoint system in the 1970’s. The architecture was sort of 8080 chip like. I did lots of assembler because their higher level language could not do things like serial data communications. The knowledge I gained in how things work at the chip level, handling hardware interrupts, and doing computing where where there was very limited CPU power gave me a foundation that is not even taught in most Computer Science curriculums today. And yes their “big” machines had 64K … and that generally was enough to do even complex tasks. They even had a “Partition Supervisor” that let you run two programs at one time. ;-))

In the end all of this high level language stuff gets boiled down to instructions like:
Load Register A
Load Register B
Jump on Zero to address xyz

Chips themselves don’t inherently “think” in any Object Oriented architecture. Some more modern chips do have some pretty fancy instruction sets but in the end the compiler takes you VERY far away from the underlying hardware. There was a theory for a while for RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computers) that showed these simpler CPUs were faster and easier to maintain. I have not heard that term in a decade or two.

In some ways these “fancy” compilers are good but it does make many things, even as simple as PRINT, a very deep “black box” that when it does not work as expected. Because of this it makes debugging pretty hard sometimes.

I read a statistic once that said:
“If the aircraft industry had progressed as fast as the computer industry we would have landed on the moon two weeks after Kitty Hawk”.

No wonder this is not easy.

FWIW, I’ve provided a lot of assistance to ‘old-school’ programmers over the years. For those that want a lot of examples and see how someone else does it we have over 200 training videos for subscribers at We also offer a reduced consulting rate for example projects on techniques you may want more help with. Contact us at if you want more information.

And of course we do a ton of pure consulting projects. One of the more interesting projects was taking old HP 85 applications an old electrical engineer had written and converted them to Xojo. I had to Google the instruction set to convert from the paper (yes a paper plotter!) display to screen. Wasn’t too hard but converting the 20 or so apps was a bit time consuming.

And there were no multiply or divide instructions either - you had to write subroutines for that!

(This could easily turn into a programmers version of the Python Yorkshiremen sketch)

The older model HP I used in the mid 1970’s (9830A - which used BASIC) used the same paper X-Y plotter, and I wrote code for it way back then…

No I’m not THAT old… I did it as an undergrad on a cooperative education assignment in an Army Research lab.

  • Karen

[quote=156283:@Mark Strickland]I read a statistic once that said:
“If the aircraft industry had progressed as fast as the computer industry we would have landed on the moon two weeks after Kitty Hawk”.
I don’t know about that. If the software to control the aircraft was written by some of the developers I knew the plane wouldn’t get off the ground! :wink:

After so many years of coding and testing in so many languages you’d think that I’d be out of ideas by now. But I still seem to write some of the most creative bugs. I, too, started back in the 6502 and 8080 machine code days. As I’m a lot older now I can’t seem to recall the actual op codes in hex any more. And cycle counting for timing-critical code - thankfully that’s a thing far in my past!

Old? Me?? Just because I once wrote an entire bug tracking system on a VAX 11-780 (Star) using the “curses” package for display on Hazeltine terminals and nroff/troff libraries for output to a line printer?

Thanks but I’ll stick to something simple like Xojo.

  • Dale

is 52 old? for first computer experience was a kit ZX81 which put me off programing for a very long time!
I’ve only ever been a hobbyist well apart from a 6 week stint doing a Flash tutorial and documentation for a interactive book

If I was going to make a new year resolution it would be; stick to one language! I have five projects written in c#,, c\c++ and one dangling with Xojo…
I SHOULD be focusing on C++ :confused:

I keep expecting to see the following exchange on these threads:

Programmer 1: “We had to hand enter every program by flipping switches on the main panel.”
Programmer 2: “You had switches?!?! We had to write our programs with bare wire and a soldering gun!”

I don’t fit the profile for this thread as I never got out of it. I’ve been programming professionally for over 30 years now.

I’m old enough to remember the panic after dropping a deck of punch cards, but young enough to have been using a punch machine that numbered the cards and could sort a deck. And I have programmed at the transistor level (assembler is a crutch! :slight_smile: ) But i really like Xojo. I’ve been spoiled to the point that going back to other programming languages is very painful. I’m choosing to believe this is a good thing. :wink:

Have a happy and prosperous new year!

I am one of those 60+ who started back in late 1981 with a ZX-81, zoomed into it with tons of books until I had been into machine language and assembler, and realized I liked very much programming. Never stopped since.

Welcome back. Xojo is probably the best environment you could find to update your programming knowledge. It is flexible enough to let you start where you left off, yet powerful enough to let you discover OOP and event driven programming that were invented since.

One of the best way to learn *nix and bash is to install Linux on your PC. I warmly recommend 32 bit. It is snappy and cool. For a PC user, you will feel right at home, the UI is rather similar.

Bash is not unlike Batch, and has a rich set of commands that sometimes do the very same thing as batch, and sometimes much more powerful things, usually with different words.

If you want to experience the true Unix, get a Mac which is sitting on Unix, or you need access to a Unix host. But frankly the Linux experience is so close, you probably will not notice the difference.

Amen to that, Tim. While I know I can learn something else Xojo keeps changing enough where I feel like I’m constantly catching up.

In the past month I’ve done 5 1/2 hours of training video for iOS and an hour and a half on the new Xojo framework (Xojo.Core.Date and Xojo.Core.Dictionary) and I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface! Oh well, keeps me out of the bars (mostly).