You know you are getting old when you come across an obscure magazine cover from 1985 called "Micro Cornucopia: The Single Board Systems Journal" and it sends you into a tail spin of nostalgia. You have to see this computer magazine from 85! It has articles on Pascal Procedures, FORTHwords, SBASIC, Cooling a Hot Computer. This is what I was reading for fun when I was 14 and I don't regret it one moment.
A little background, I was raised in a tiny Georgia town called Zebulon. The 2000 census has the population at 1,181. If you Google Zebulon GA, I am the 4th hit, right after the zebulon.georgia.gov site.
Clearly my access to the outside was a bit limited. But I did have a Kaypro and my subscription to Micro Cornucopia.
My Dad had a family business, manufactoring car cleaning products like waxes, polishes, soap, degreasers etc.. In 84 he bought a Kaypro IV computer it had:
Z80 CPU running at 2.5 MHZ
64 KB of RAM
No Graphic Mode, Text Only 80 Characters X 25 Lines
It was a color screen with one color: Phosphor Green
Sound: Built-in speaker that could only 'Beep' (I later hacked it to play a really crappy recording of my voice)
Two 5.25 Floopy drives (to hold all data, there was no hard drive)
I spent every waking hour programming this thing, writing BASIC programs, Turbo Pascal, Fortran & DBase programs. I also learned about how grown-ups like to have language wars. See page 24 where the Turbo Pascal founder says "C is a disease" I mostly read it for one column, The Kaypro Column which gave tips and tutorials on how to hack the hardware and software of a Kaypro IV. It taught my Kaypro to do things that is never supposed to do.
What did I learn from this life changing experience:
There is always a way. It might not be pretty but you can make it work
Fear of failure is silly in comparison to the thrill re-engineering your machine.
Read everything thing you can, especially the stuff that is too hard. Keep reading it, one day it will be useful and understandable.