...have stunned me ever since I can remember (i. e. since the early 70s). After numerous encounters with blinking and uninflectedly declaming, wardrobe-sized metal boxes in various SciFi TV productions, the first encounter with a real computer was even more impressive to me -- and more and more questions arouse: Where did those characters go when leaving through the (green) CRT monitor's upper edge? Did they enter this mysterious "memory" computers are said to have? And are computers really as smart as everyone seemed to believe?
Informatics at Helmholtz Grammar School
Thanks to an incredibly commited teacher, Hemlholth Grammar School was able to boast about the incredible number of 3 (three!) real computers already in the early 80s. Well, those were a funny lot! I did my first steps towards programming on an Olivett P652 -- a device with a rectangular keyboard full of funny chars, an integrated receipt printer, an electric typewriter and an X/Y plotter as output devices and cardboard-based magnetic stripes for "mass" storage. No screen, no hard drive -- yet capable of everything a proper computer needs to be capable of. To me, this was an invaluable experience!
Furthermore, there was a "big" Olivetti machine (with CRT monitor and 8" floppy disk drive) and a PET/CBM 3032 on which I learned to program in BASIC.
Informatics all my life
Operating systems came and went, programming languages had their time (I recently peeked into some Pascal source code as well es into some 6502 assembler -- wasn't that bad, really), computers became faster, smaller, more colourful -- but in principle, nothing has changed since then. Apart from
- the exchange of data and programs having become incredibly easy and
- a flourishing culture of free information exchange (source code in particular -- let's hope it stays like this!) having evolved since then.
Later on, I managed to merge my private enthusiasm for computers with my profession as a biochemist by working as a bioinformaticion.