TCW History: September 2022

Our History with Programming Languages

By Thelma Tippie

Considering the hundreds, if not thousands of programming languages that have come and gone since the 18th century, where does anyone-- including The Computer Workshop-- dip their toe in the proverbial pool?

As our organization opened its doors in 1988, programming started off as an elusive offering relegated to occasional consulting in Pascal and Basic.

Cobol for mainframes was the most used programming language since personal computers began gaining popularity for office use in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. You had Fortran, Pascal, and Basic – but again, these were highly specialized areas at that time.

As The Computer Workshop dabbled with offering programming courses more regularly, we introduced our students to HyperCard!...What? Don't remember good ole HyperCard for the Macintosh? Allow me to refresh your memory. This program had a built-in programming language called ‘HyperTalk’ that beginner programmers could use to design their own hypermedia software applications, including interactive books and games. A HyperCard stack file was made interactive by using HyperTalk script.

We had a crocodile that was made in MacPaint and then put into HyperCard. We could make him move and he would come down the screen and take a ‘bite’ out of a couple of 3 ½” diskettes (What?). The crocodile would say “Take the Byte out of Computing with classes from The Computer Workshop.” How fun is that! Back then it was something unique that made us stand out.

As reminds us, HyperCard, developed by Bill Atkinson, is still used by many academic researchers and small businesses today, but Jobs abandoned the product around 2000 and the last release was in 1998.

Still, it wouldn’t be until 1999 that our organization would take the leap from occasional consulting and dabbling to making programming a core part of the catalog. Even more surprisingly, this step forward came about in a most unexpected way: A fellow small business was forced to close its doors.

While this was both unexpected and unwanted, The Computer Workshop delightedly welcomed those displaced staff as one of their own. Within their ranks was a Java developer of many talents. In time, not only would their skill grow, but so too would The Computer Workshop.

Regularly offered Java courses paved the way for other well-known fundamental programming classes, like HTML (Hypertext Markup Language), CSS, and JavaScript.

Today, our family business-- which had only dabbled in programming once upon a time-- makes programming core to the business and our offerings. Whether Python (the simplest language to learn for beginners), C/C++/C# (for those who continue to work on Microsoft and Windows and video game developers), Java (attractive for developers because of the cross-platform option), SQL (special-purpose programming language used for getting information from and updating databases), or JavaScript (used to make web pages interactive); we have classes to help you master these languages!

Speaking of which, everyone is talking about Amazon Web Services (AWS) these days –an interesting fact is the AWS Management Console is written into the client-side languages JavaScript, CSS, and HTML. Showing us again that these are the fundamentals to know!

Of course, there are many other languages and opportunities to discover. So, if you are ready to take the leap into programming, we are ready to guide you! Give us a call at 800-639-3535 or email