Why aren't we all speaking LISP now?

Aahz Maruch aahz at panix.com
Thu May 10 00:40:44 EDT 2001

In article <mailman.989409253.7945.python-list at python.org>,
Laura Creighton  <lac at cd.chalmers.se> wrote:
>What sort of teaching did the rest of you that took computer science
>courses get?

I stared with BASIC on an HP2000 in summer school after third grade.
Didn't do much more until high school, where I took the first Pascal
class my school offered.  Most of my learning came from _Pascal with
Style_, which I had to buy because the teacher refused to return his
copy to the school library.  I did very little of the classwork, getting
an A because the teacher needed to understand how to get UCSD Pascal to
do something and I was able to figure it out.  In my junior year, I got
a part-time job with a one-man company programming in BASIC.  At some
point in there, I got a copy of Turbo Pascal 2.0 for CP/M.

I managed to get a 4 on the AP Computer Science test in the first year
it was offered (back then it used Pascal), allowing me to pass out of the
first quarter class at UC Davis.  The second quarter class was still a
cakewalk, but I learned quickly how much of an anamoly I was: the first
mid-term had a total of 63 points possible, the highest score was 57, the
second-highest (mine) was 51, and the C range went down to 9.

That class required that the programs work on the braindead VAX Pascal
compiler, which was an incredible annoyance after the libraries
available in Turbo Pascal.  One assignment had us converting strings of
digits to numbers; I figured out a hack involving a temp file (VAX
Pascal allowed anonymous files).  The instructor marked it Not
Acceptable, and when I complained, he said that it wasn't fast enough.
Well, that wasn't part of the spec, was it?

After that, I ran into the brick wall that characterizes so many bright
high school students when they get into college and never really
recovered.  I took a year off after my second year, working at a small
company doing things like programming in Turbo Pascal and Fortran,
setting up a Paradox database, and typesetting a book in Ventura

Two years (and five straight quarters on academic probation) later, I
dropped out and went to work for Borland, doing Paradox tech support.

Overall, what I know was what I learned on my own or what I was exposed
to; I don't feel that I've been taught very much, despite 3.5 years in a
CS program.
                      --- Aahz  <*>  (Copyright 2001 by aahz at pobox.com)

Androgynous poly kinky vanilla queer het Pythonista   http://www.rahul.net/aahz/
Hugs and backrubs -- I break Rule 6

"Don't be so humble -- you are not that great."  --Golda Meir

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