Wednesday, November 12, 2003


I gave a talk at my 13 year old son's school on the history of computers. The concept I wanted to get across to the students is that computers were originally used just to do mathematics; the ways they use computers (applications and the World Wide Web) are very recent inventions. They were amazed that the computer just uses numbers and someone has to write a program to get it to do all the fancy things we do with it. Several of them were intrigued with the idea that games are programs people write and wanted to know if they could write their own games.

When I was in high school, learning to program computers was seen as a useful thing to do to be prepared for the new world of computers. When I was in college people like scientists wrote their own programs. Now it seems that no one but professionals programs any more, they just use applications. It seems to me that despite that it might be something valuable for students to learn, as learning how to flowchart still affects how I think about analyzing complex programs.

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