7. Dial "C" for Computing

How I got into computing

Mark Burgess
13 min readMay 1, 2022

While I was at University, as an undergraduate, I wrote a book about C Programming and promptly became in demand as a teacher — not in academia, but in industry. My tutor at Newcastle, who was in the maths department, discovered it and surprised me by buying it. I was supposed to report to him at the start and end of each term. I know he read it because he impressed me, jokingly, by telling me that I’d been rude to my readers. In one of the examples about valid identifiers, there were alternatives a), b), c), etc, I had f) _off as the option — the small amusement of a teenager.

The story of how I got into computing is a maze of twisty little passages.

I was completely uninterested in computers until I was 17 years old. Then I suddenly went mad and saw what I could do. I recall sitting in an A-level physics class, aged 17, with my friend Gareth Byast. "Mark, you need to learn computing," he chided. I laughed that I would eat ice cream off the cool shards of hell before getting interested in computers. Just a year later, I’d written my first book about programming EPROM chips to extend the operating system of the BBC B Microcomputer, using paged memory, all in 6502 assembler code.

Once I get started on something…

In my second year of University, Acorn Computers (who later became ARM), the company behind the BBC Microcomputer, hired me to teach C programming on the BBC computer and later on their new Archimedes computer, both…

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Mark Burgess

@markburgess_osl on Twitter and Instagram. Science, research, technology advisor and author - see Http://markburgess.org and Https://chitek-i.org