When I was eight, my grandfather got a new iMac 3g, the Bondi Blue, complete with hockey-puck mouse and the wonderful game Lemmings. Whenever I visited I would play the game and learn how to use the computer. Soon after, my father got a PC for my two brothers and I to share. Learning both operating systems simultaneously, I remember finding Windows easier and more intuitive than the Macintosh (no longer the case). On our PC, we brothers would play games like Diablo, Myst, and Doom. As the youngest, I usually watched, but sometimes got the special job of managing the potions or spell book during tough fights. I continued to be an avid gamer, and kept learning and loving computers.
When first trying to figure out the internet, I remember hearing the AOL voice say, “You’ve got mail!”. Amazed by the computer’s knowledge, I went out to check the mailbox. There was no mail, and I never trusted AOL again.
I eventually did learn about email though, a few years later, with my first Hotmail account. I was twelve, so I really didn’t care about my inbox or messages. But my account gave me access to all sorts of great free games on MSN. My favorite was online chess. Chess was already my favorite game, and being able to play it online with thousands of real people was incredible. I could practice more effectively and play all the time! With my computer to help me train, I went on to win several local chess tournaments and even compete in the nationals. Over the years I lost my ability to run a strong Queen’s Gambit, but my love and skill for computers only grew, and continued to help me.
Throughout elementary and middle school, I felt that my computer-savvyness gave me a big advantage. I could do better research online, type papers instead of write them, and solve the problems of my tech-foreign teachers. I learned how to use computers to make art, get news, and type to friends in real time. I even figured out a way to use the internet to get free music! It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
In High school I got Adobe CS3, and began doing animation in Flash, web design with Dreamweaver, and art in Photoshop. As a filmmaker, I also used Adobe’s Premiere Pro and After Effects. I used computers for everything and knew a lot about them. But it wasn’t until OSU that I learned how to program. A civil engineering major at first, I decided to take a computer science class; I changed my major to CS a few weeks later. I loved it immediately, and had no doubt that it was the field for me. That was two years ago. It’s going great, and I have a couple more years to go. One thing I find myself always learning is that I hardly know anything. I went from a sophisticated computer user to an amateur computer scientist. I’m constantly amazed by the enormity and evolution of the discipline, and admittedly daunted by the fact that it is growing much faster than I can hope to learn it! But I will keep trying, and keep looking forward to what I will be able to do with computers in the future.