The first time I used a computer was way back when I was in second grade. They used to teach us 'Logo' back then. Logo is a programming language which is an adaptation of Lisp - we used to draw figures with it by moving the 'turtle' around the screen. It used to be so much fun! Of course we used to operate from the DOS prompt - there was no GUI yet! The first actual programming language that I learned, where you could do more than drawing figures, was 'BASIC'. If you haven't heard of BASIC and Logo, you were probably born in the 90s (Gosh! That makes me feel old!). The first graphical OS that I used was Windows 3.1. Home PCs weren't readily available in India back then. My dad got one from the US and it used to be a thing of wonder! I remember that they had something called a 'Kid's Space' in Windows 3.1, and that used to be my secret corner in the computer!
So anyway, when I got introduced to BASIC, I slowly realized the power of programming. I remember that I would feel awed at being able to make the computer print stuff with a set of commands. I started using programming to solve puzzles, do math etc. Around that time, I also got my first email address (which I still use actually!), and started emailing people. Suddenly being able to communicate with people around the world became the coolest thing ever. Who knew that communication would reach its current level with facebook, twitter and linkedin!
The computer industry has changed drastically in the past couple of decades - and it changed right in front of my eyes. Today computers are a way of life. If an earthquake happens, people will probably post a facebook update before leaving the house! Back when I started using computers, they were 'box-like' things which you used to send emails or write programs in. Over the years, computers have changed both in their shape & size, as well as their usage, not to mention that they are way faster and cheaper than they were before.
The cool thing is that 'computers' are still changing everyday. Even five years back we didn't have smart phones and tablets. I feel grateful to be part of this community that innovates and brings new things to the world literally everyday! I also feel very proud to be part of a generation that saw innovators like Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie. As a networking researcher, I feel excited at the prospect of being able to contribute to improve the Internet so we have even better connectivity in the coming years. Here's to hoping that we work hard, innovate and take the computer industry to the next level whatever that may be!