The title is the first question, Michael Kennedy asks every guest on his podcast “Talk Python to Me“. As I am a big fan of the show and the interviews are affecting my way to think about software and the people involved, I would like to answer it by myself.
As a young boy I told my parents that I might be interested in computers. I was fascinated by the ability to run games and other programs on such a simple looking device by feeding it with a floppy disk.
Now it happened that my grandfather owned a book store and for birthdays and for Christmas I always got a book or two. So it came, that I got my first book about programming, “Turbo Pascal & Delphi für Kids“.
I remember tinkering around with the examples, playing sounds using the speaker built in the computer casing. Man I still can hear the deafening sound I played for 5 minutes as I just typed in a few numbers for length and pitch of the tone to be generated.
But it took me a few more years to get my next contact with programming. At high school we had to buy some graphing calculators. It was a “TI-83” where I wrote a few applications for my math course. But I had a lot more fun to examine available games. So I copied and adopted a few lines of code here and there and wrote smaller programs using the built in TI-BASIC variant which is used on the calculators.
Because of the fun I had with the calculator and the interest I clearly showed, my parents send me to a programming class which didn’t took off for me. We were young and had other things in mind than programming in a sterile classroom.
Nonetheless because of my interest for computers and programming I enlisted for college in computer sciences, where I learned to program in Java and also the foundations of software engineering in general.
One of my last courses I participated in was an introductory class to multimedia e-learning systems and applications. The basic web server we used was written in Python. As well as all our homework had to be done using Python.
The whole Python thing took off for me as I got employed at the company I still work for. They had started to switch from MATLAB to Python and were still in the process to do so.
Long story short, after working as an algorithm developer I am now a software engineer between data scientists, fighting shoulder on shoulder at the front to leverage the power of Python to make our customers happy and make the world a safer place 😉