When I was a teenager in the 1980s I purchased my first computer: a TI-99/4A. (Wow, TI's version numbers are more confusing than ours!) I had several friends who had other brands of computers, including the TRS-80 (affectionately known as the "trash 80") and the Commodore 64.
Despite our divisions over computer brands, my friends and I had at least one common experience with our machines: home computing was relegated to the basement. If I wanted to play a computer game or tinker with programming in Extended Basic, I had to go underground, literally.
With that basement-dwelling pedigree, it took a special sort of person to select Computer Science as a field of study. Many of my fellow students were living examples of the stereotypical "comp-sci geek": smart but socially awkward, most of them males, with questionable grooming habits and an unhealthy obsession with role-playing games.
Since then, computers have been promoted to the main living space: we keep them in prime locations such as a home office, family rooms, bedrooms, and even in our pockets (in the form of smart phones). Computer Science has achieved a solid status as a respectable field, even among today's youth. You can admit to your inner geekiness and still get invited to cool parties (grooming habits permitting).
Speaking of parties, it's time to celebrate Computer Science Education Week (Dec 4-10)!. As cool as Comp Sci seems to me, we still must raise awareness of the importance of the discipline, lest we find ourselves with a dwindling pool of smart, technically-oriented critical thinkers.
In celebration, I'd like to re-offer these articles that I wrote to commemorate last year's CSEdWeek:
Computer Science isn't just for geeks anymore
Yes, it's another one of those "back in my day we were all nerds, but now we're cool" posts.
What's my line? (CSEdWeek Edition)
What's the best way to explain a computer science career to a group of 8-year-olds? And why would they be so interested?
Pop quiz for Computer Science Education Week
Fancy yourself a comp-sci aficionado? Try your hand at these questions that any self-respecting CIS pro should be able to answer.