It just hit me today: I was maybe 10 or 11 when I first held in my hands my very own computer. It was mid-90s and my family went to Hong Kong for a late summer trip. I was too young to care and be thrilled about going abroad for the first time. I was not excited about what the trip meant. However, I was thrilled with the following:
- being in the airplane
- airplane food
- hotel room
That pretty much sums it up. I remember now, though… I remember the highlight of that first trip (I’ve only been to Hong Kong twice) and looking back, I guess that should have clued me in on my future. Or at least, on what would become one of my passions.
I remember we went to Toys “R” Us — me, my three other siblings, my parents, my cousins, and my aunt. I was gawking and my jaw might as well have dropped to the floor. It was a kid’s dream come true. Aisles and aisles and aisles of toys that reached nearly the ceiling (or so it seemed to little, skinny me at that time). And then my mother said the magic words, “Go get anything you like.” And then as an afterthought, “Just one toy.” And I was off, racing to the aisles. There were dolls of every variety and I don’t know why but nothing appealed to me. I soon found myself in the section where I saw these… things stacked up neatly. Without even thinking, I snatched a gray and dark blue one and proceeded to my mother. I handed her my pick and she looked at me skeptically. “Do you really want this?” By this, she meant a computer (or a laptop). I wish I could say I picked it but in retrospect, considering how I randomly ended up standing in that particular section of the huge store, I’d like to think it found me.
Instead of dolls or accessories or trinkets or hoola hoops, I had a VTech computer in my tiny hands. This was many years ago and I forgot the exact model. However, thank goodness for Google because now I can give you an idea: It is called VTech Precomputer Power Pad. The moment I opened the box in our hotel room and I got to playing it, I refused to let it go. There were games (quizzes) in it and I loved it. Later on, I discovered its BASIC tutorial. I was in awe and it sparked this curiosity and wonder. I remember trying out what seemed like gibberish to me. Little did I know that that language, with its syntax and strings, would be something that I would grow to love in the future.