I’ve talked about my early days of creativity, how I started around age 10 creating baseball board games, trying to simulate authenticity out of dice and baseball cards. And when I was 13 I got my first computer — an Apple IIc — and taught myself to program.
But my formal computer science education didn’t start until I was 15. We had just moved to South Florida and I was enrolled at a magnet school in central Broward County, just outside of Ft. Lauderdale. The only computer class at my old school was typing, or at least I didn’t know of any others.
After my freshman year of high school, a time when I was making lots of new friends and for the first time feeling comfortable with myself, I was uprooted to this foreign land. I was in culture shock, frankly. I moved from a town where having a car was a big deal to a place where driving a brand new Mercedes was nothing special. To make matters worse, most of the kids in my class had been going to school together since Kindergarten. And I was shy, making connections with the others very difficult.
Luckily, my parents had the foresight to enroll me in a programming class. I remember showing up on the first day. There were lots of students split between two rooms. Somehow we were segregated by experience and I was shipped off to the other classroom with the more experienced kids.
This is when I met Mr. Hinshaw. He was a kindly older man (at least to my 15 year old eyes), a calm persona (and boy would he need it in that class), and seemed to know what he was doing. That first year we worked on Apple IIe computers in BASIC. I did well enough that I was asked to join the advanced class the next year — we had Macintoshes and wrote in Pascal by then — and take AP Computer Science my senior year, all the time being in Mr. Hinshaw’s class.
That was one of my best experiences about moving to South Florida, an opportunity I would have never had if we’d stayed in Ohio. Mr. Hinshaw was instrumental in nurturing my love for programming. There were plenty of times I skipped class to go work on the Macs and Mr. Hinshaw never batted an eye. In my senior year he even gave me an award as the most outstanding CS student in my class.
While I haven’t talked about it here, I think about Mr. Hinshaw often and realize that if it wasn’t for him, I might not be running Infinity Softworks today. Thanks, Mr. Hinshaw, for creating the kind of environment where an awkward 15-year old could feel comfortable and let his talents show.