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Computers

Programming

I was not a professional in computer programming area. It was more or less just a hobby, although I needed some programming in the beginning of my career in microwave circuit design and later on made some simple programs at work in my user support tasks.

The first program language I learnt was Basic, which I used in Honeywell 6000 environment in the 70's. At that time I did not use any efficient programs like Fortran. Debugging a program was quite tedious, because the editing of the program had to be made using line editing, substituting an incorrect string with a new one in one line in turn. The output device was a slow teletypewriter. When changes were made, the program code had to be punched on a paper tape to save the program. (See the first section of this page.)

Most programs I ever made were however for VAX environment starting from the early 80's and ending more than 10 years later. One of my tasks in this area was to program scripts, which helped the other users to navigate in the folders of our common file areas and to easily pick files for editing or for other file operations. In this way the users did not need to learn VMS and were saved from the frustration of typing errors in long directory and file names. The script language in VAX was VAX DCL command language and here is one sample of the scripts. Digital developed in 1986 a Text Processing Utility (DECTPU), which was actually a procedural programming language. I liked its screen editing implementation EVE with multiple windows, multiple buffers and its journaling feature, and used is in all my programming. It also could be called from other programs and I used it in some of my DCL scripts for mass editing purposes.
I made just a couple of small VAX Pascal and VAX C programs. One of those was a file listing program used in the file manager script, which was working like 'more' and 'less' commands in Unix.

Although this support work was extra in addition to my main job and I used my spare time in those tasks too, I found it both fun and rewarding. I was self taught in programming and those codes probably would have never passed a validation, but they worked!

When I got my first own computer Commodore 64, I made some programs to it with Basic and Commodore Assembler. I have never enjoyed any other programming as much as my trials in CBM assembler. The longest codes did not have more than 600 lines and the results were not so useful perhaps, but it all was fun! I am still keeping some of the program listings. :-)

In my first PC, Mikromikko 3TT, I had DOS and a nice programming tool Turbo C, which encouraged me to learn C language. In 1990-1992 I made my biggest exercises in programming with C language. That was again a file manager application, this time for DOS.

In PCUF bulletin board system I had an access to Unix shell (later Linux shell) via telnet since the early of 90's. In addition to using the character based programs of Unix family (elm, pine, tin etc.) I exercised with some Z shell scripts. I never got used to the famous Unix text editor vi but I used the other known text editor GNU Emacs.

Emacs is a highly configurable and versatile text editor and I customized it to get rid of the hard to remember editing key combinations (for example "ctrl-x 4 ctrl-f"). I copied key combinations and some other practises from my customised VAX TPU editor, which I had used at work earlier. That was an interesting challenge, because customisation is made with Emacs Lisp language. I did not know Lisp at all, but I learnt from other Emacs users' initialisation files and via trial and error. Emacs has several editing modes, inbuilt programs for e-mail handling and a news reader, etc. I only used it for text editing though. I normally started editing in the "dired" mode of Emacs, which acted as a "file manager" for me to open the desired file for editing. Here is one example of my Emacs customisation file. I also ported this customisation for my own use to the Unix environment at work.

Homepage

I have had an own homepage since February 1995. It started from a very simple page, with practically no knowledge of web page design. During the years I have learnt a bit more of it. After I started to use the server side scripting language PHP I found web side development as a hobby even more fun than before. Maintaining my homepage keeps my brain cells active in my retirement years and it is also a new challenge in the area of programming for me. wink More information is on the Info page.

First experiences Minicomputers Workstations and PC's My own computers Communication