Theory, practice, and fighting for terminal time: How computer science education has changed

When it comes to learning programming, some things have changed -- but not everything

In 1950, fifty-one people attended the Summer School on Programme Design for Automatic Digital Computing Machines at Cambridge University. Over the previous decade, engineering and mathematical researchers had developed the first stored-program computers, and figured out how to operate them as they went; the students who came to Cambridge that summer were the first to sign up to specifically learn the art on Cambridge's EDSAC computer.

edsac 19 Thrope/Wikipedia


The students that attended were a varied lot, with a varying goals -- one was actually a salesman for Ferranti, the company that was going to release the first commercial computer the next year, and he spent more time chatting up potential customers than learning how to program. The physical experience of programming was radically different from how we'd understand it today, as this remarkable film illustrates. Still, they are the predecessors of every young person on summer vacation today who's waiting for college -- and their education in computer science -- to start.

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