Happy Birthday Linus!

I just read an article on Linus Torvalds, creator of the Linux kernel, talking about his early days of computing. Turns out that he and I both started computing at a similar time – circa 1990. At the time, he was a starving Finnish university student in computing scienc and I was a easily excitable primary school boy who spent too much time reading and watching telly.

386, DX33, 4 Megs of RAM, no co-processor, 40 Megs hard disc

I had half the RAM but about double the hard disk. I still have that old machine at home with me, although it has been taken out of its shell. I can still remember hitting the old turbo button to give the machine a clock boost. Those were the days.

I also did some programming back then. The year after Linux was released, I had just finished writing my first graphical strategy game called Dinobots. It was a simple board game with a number of procedurally rendered dinosaurs moving on them. The rules are no longer something I remember but I distinctly remembered playing with it for a while. It was my crowning achievement in QBASIC because it had graphics, animation, sound and a computer opponent worth playing against. (There was only so much one could do with the limitations of QBASIC).

Ahhh, this brings back memories.

I then moved onto PASCAL for more programming power and wrote a number of useful applications and tools with it including my first virus-like TSR (terminate stay resident) programme. I can still remember what it was – a key-logger! It would quietly sit in the background reading the keys read and them randomly spitting them out to the screen when the opportunity presented itself. It had to play nice and hook onto the timer and keyboard interrupts.

All this and much more even before I completed high-school.

Published by

Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered/Professional Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

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