My Journey To Programming


BY Bogdan Kulbida / ON Jan 03, 2019

I guess everything started from the moment when my father first told me about computers. While still in his early thirties, he graduated from the Kharkiv Institute of Radioelectronics. He is just like me, the same way: passionate.

I remember when he told stories about huge computers and rooms of equipment that were used to make simple calculations. I loved that time.

I remember when I drew an imaginary keyboard on the piece of cardboard and pretended to be typing some text for a program and executing it. That was my early 5th grade at school, I guess. I could sit for hours and create a perfect keyboard layout while thinking about efficiency.

Then there was a Dandy 8 bits game console (comparable to the Nintendo Entertainment System) with a keyboard and special program that allowed me to actually create simple games. That got my feet wet in the programming world. I loved creating my own games, but eventually, it got to be a boring task since it was pretty limited in terms of what you could actually do.

Then we bought another console that “technically” could be connected to the display (TV) and you actually could create simple programs with Basic language. That console was very difficult to connect to a display since it required my father to actually solder a board in the TV. That hack worked for some time, but the TV lost its brightness due to the board, and the previous one was not compatible with the console.

Then, the time has come and in the 6th grade, my parents could allocate some funds to purchase IBM 386 PC for me. I remember that period of my life like today, that time was amazing. It was a used PC and the other person asked 100 dollars for it and my father was able to drop the price to 90.

My father and I had to drive in our old car for about 100 miles to purchase it. Our way back home was such a journey that I remembered it for the rest of my life. I remember that PC with printer and 14-inch color display sitting on the back seat of our car and we were going home.

My father told me then: “This is your FIRST REAL computer.”

I remember that computer still. It had MS-DOS on it and you could load Windows 3.11 from MS-DOS. I still remember that Microsoft split-design ergonomic keyboard on the splash screen when Windows was loading. I was dreaming of that keyboard. Now I have two of those and I love them, each has its own character.

On that old IBM PC, I created my first real programs in Pascal that I could execute and see results on the real computer screen and there was (as I thought at that time) no limits for my programs. I was blessed, I felt joy at that time creating real programs.

First, I was writing some graphical programs that would display some geometric figures or a scene of a galaxy, or a spaceship on the moon. Then I was creating some programs that were calculating your biorhythm based on your date of birth. I also liked to play real computer games on that machine. It also had an encyclopedia with very good grayscale pictures and stories.

And then a disaster has happened. My PC has lost its hard drive. There was no way to get another one. So we had to sell it. Now I regret that we sold it; I would much appreciate if that machine would still be somewhere in the basement. A piece of legacy is lost, but it is in my mind still.

The next year, my parents bought me a brand new Celeron 1200 MHz with 512 MB of RAM, 40 Gb hard drive and 17-inch color display. My father and I were reading some very good books on how to put together a computer from parts. And we did it! We configured everything, from a keyboard to a chipset. It was a very good machine for launching my career as a computer programmer.

I created my first Object Pascal (Delphi) and Objective C++ (Borland Builder) desktop programs. I created my first client-server desktop applications. At that time, my friend started his business in computer games. He had a shop where you could play computer games for money and I was providing software for his business to keep track of time and block PCs when the time elapsed from a remote server machine. That was amazing and that is where I felt a real power of software that can be valuable for business needs. I fell in love!

When I was in college, I created a lot of different programs. One of the programs is still used there, a program used to test students on their knowledge to get a driver’s license. It is even installed in the state agency in the Zvenigorodka town, Cherkassy region in Ukraine, and still in use. I installed it about 13 years ago.

That was fun but all of the sudden and thankfully the WEB started to be “a thing” and I reconsidered my career path. I started to learn Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP (LAMP) and then it went crazy with other languages and frameworks, and now my team and I are configuring a fleet of servers with language-agnostic microservices and deploying them with a single command, writing back-end and front-end applications for businesses to streamline their processes.