In the beginning there was virtually nothing: I was just a regular (?) kid.
When I was about 12 years old, my dream was to become a railway engineer. Or – even better – somebody who would answer questions regarding train scheduling, at a public kiosk. (Like I saw many times in Cluj-Napoca and Dej Călători railway stations as I was often traveling with my parents on this route, spending summers in the countryside, in Batin village near Dej, about 70 km away from my home city.)
I’ve completed my 5th grade classes at a regular school in Cluj-Napoca, but my mother insisted to switch to a better one since the 6th year. She said that “Avram Iancu” High School was a way better choice for me and for my future (they did have lower grade classes, besides the actual high school ones). The change was smoother than I thought it would be. The only problem was that the switch required a primary foreign language change: from English to French. Things turned out just fine, but in fact I’ve never really liked French, anyway. (And I think I’ve been cursed on it, somehow, too – as I often happened to work with Francophone customers later.)
That High School was ahead of its time, however. Sometime during my first year there – I guess it was 1991 – a mathematics teacher from there decided to teach programming lessons. He had got access to an HC 91 machine that was running Basic. Really nice! Or not: I took the lessons, but after a few months I understood that I was not being able to understand anything! Unfortunately, it seems the guy was not able to explain things naturally. (Either that, or I was stupid.)
I’ve complained about the situation to my mom, but she said I should take one more trimester since it was a free course. I’ve accepted. There were no grades to get, so it would have been just some more time shared with my friends in the same room with a strange keyboard and a screen. But it eventually paid off: some day during that school trimester I got a big reward. I still don’t need to thank my teacher for it; I should thank one of my colleagues, Octavian Trică, instead: he told me, out of the blue, that I = I + 1 is not a mathematical equation written there in Basic language, but simply an instruction for the computer to increase the value of the variable when that line runs.
Eureka! I immediately envisioned what programming really was about, and how spectacular it could get once I’d start to do the real thing myself.
And since then there’s everything: I became a programmer. And I never wanted to do anything else again.