A first programming language?

I’m well aware that this post could start a flame war (if any programmers actually read it).  But I haven’t written in ages because of my attention being divided between writing, work, and school.  I did some writing for The Daily Yonder, and Julie Ardery was terrific to work with and is an awesome editor.  If you’re interested in that, see my post regarding rural broadband from a few months ago or go to the Daily Yonder site and read the article.

So, I have recently come to the realization that, though my degree is in IT with an emphasis in software development, I really am not learning what I need to about computer science.  So I’ve decided to educate myself more fully.  I am almost finished going through John Zelle’s very excellent Python Programming: An Introduction to Computer ScienceI have also begun reading Programming in C by Stephen Kochan.  But my real first language was JavaScript.  It was the language for my first introductory programming class.

I won’t even  discuss the merits first languages – ask Joel Spolsky if you want someone’s opinion about it.  I would, however, say that Javascript prepared me for Python, and Python prepared me for C (as far as I can tell – I’m not that far into C).  There isn’t a divinely ordained order.  But I’m curious if some readers might offer their insight into which language they started with.

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3 Comments on “A first programming language?”

  1. l0rdn3rd Says:

    I think that a good starting programming language would not only enable you to learn other languages faster, but also provoke you to think more about what programs do to the machine, and what the way to write a program is. Thus, for example, you will know that a variable is an address in memory, containing (or not containing) a value, and so on.

    In addition, I think that what is really important is learning to think like a programmer, which means understanding how to solve problems beautifully, rather than just learning a myriad of languages (which I guess will start happening naturally at some point).

  2. bfpower Says:

    “learning to think like a programmer…”

    So true – the Javascript book I used was terrible about this. I learned the syntax without learning how to program. This is where I think Zelle’s book relaly excels – he delves into some topics of computer science (although he doesn’t go into the deeper things of Python) such as encapsulation, OOP, simulation programming, and some others.

    I read a quote that said “good algorithms are like poems of logic.”

  3. l0rdn3rd Says:

    “good algorithms are like poems of logic” – I like this one. I have never tried Python, although I have heard about it from many different places. I will try the book you suggested.


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