Joaquín Bernal

Refactoring ideas without a test harness
Joaquín Bernal

I’m a programmer, Instrumentation technician and fiction writer, not necessarily in that order. I started programming on a ZX Spectrum and writing with Enrique Páez. Years of exposure to Z80 assembler rotted my brain and Spectrum BASIC made me angry with the world. Now I fake a normal life, but in full moon nights I talk about monads, homoiconicity and custard recipes, not necessarily in that order. You can contact me via email or in Twitter as @jobedom.

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That old, warm, fuzzy feeling

May 22, 2013 / Joaquín Bernal

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I started programming. More important than when, or how, is that precise feeling I got when I was at the keyboard trying my first programs. When feelings are involved everything it’s hard to explain, but let me try. Caveat lector: High doses of nostalgia ahead.

It was 1985, and Sinclair Research Ltd. had just released the new, improved ZX Spectrum + with “real” keyboard and 64 kB of memory. It was false advertising at its best, because it still had 16 kB ROM and 48 kB RAM, just as its former brother in the line. But it was a great computer, that was for sure.

Months before, my sister had started taking Computer Science classes in High School. Those classes involved using a bunch of ZX Spectrum to program some BASIC. She came home with a few handwritten sheets listing the most common BASIC commands, and I was curious to know about all that. She also brought home a photocopy of the Spectrum manual, and when I had a browse at it I knew all was lost for me: I was going to be a computer programmer.

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