My interest in computers was evident right from my childhood, when I used to play with the i486, which was our family’s first computer.
I always had an eye for technology, especially when it had something to do with computers. But, I was never really exposed to the science of computing(aka Computer Science), until when I was 16.
Although I had grown up with many generations of game consoles, right from consoles that used cartridges, to motion sensing Nintendo Wiis, I did not know how computers worked behind the hood.
In class VII, we were supposed to learn HTML as a part of the school curriculum. But the entire course was not completed by the teacher by the year. So in the holidays, I took the NIIT book which was given in our school, and started to try HTML concepts on my own. This was my first exposure to coding in general.
It was only on May 2013, when I had received my Class X CBSE Examination results, that I seriously started to think about my career. I had two streams to choose between for 11th and 12th. The Science group with the elective as Computer Science or Biology, or the Commerce group.
Since I was a geek(and I still am), who loved technology, I opted for Computer Science although I had no idea what it was about.
Fortunately, I got admission in one of the best schools in Chennai, DAV Boys Senior Secondary School, Gopalapuram, which had seen all India toppers in CBSE examinations.
It was the first day of school, and I being an introvert, sat in a row neither too near, nor too far from the teacher. The student crowd was so different than what I have seen before. Everyone seemed smarter than me. Even some guys were reading “Higher Mathematics” in the first day of school. I was stressed beyond thoughts.
Half way through the day, it was the Computer Science class and I was waiting to know what this stuff was all about.
The name of the teacher who taught the subject was Ms. Hemalatha, whom I consider to be the best Computer Science teacher in the whole world till now. She literally made me love the subject, and greatly influenced my decision to take CS as a career.
So the first class was about the fundamentals of a computer. It was about why we use a computer, and how it helps us be more efficient. We were also taught about the binary number system.
Although I have been with computers pretty much my whole life, I did not know, that all that computers knew were 0s and 1s.
Disclaimer Alert: Technical details ahead.
After a couple of theory classes in the week, we were taken to the computer lab, and told to copy a program from the black board. I typed the code diligently and waited for the instructions. We were instructed to compile the code using Alt+F9.
Since we were using the classic Turbo C++, we were actually typing in a blue screen.
As soon as I compiled the code, some error messages popped up at the bottom of the screen. Our mam Ms. Hema, asked us if we got any errors, for which we all said yes. She told us to add the header file, which was at that time called as “#include”.
I made the change and recompiled to find no error messages, but instead a pop-up telling 0 errors. We were then instructed to run the program using Ctrl+F9, which I did and saw nothing happening but a short-lived blink on the screen.
Similar to the previous time, we were asked whether we got any output. Hearing that we did not get any output, she told us to add a statement called “getch();” at the end of the main function.
As I proceeded with making errors, and fixing them with small changes, I started to have a feeling of accomplishment. She explained us how these small statements can change how the program executes entirely, by making us do mistakes and learning from them.