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Tech origin Story: what first got you into tech, how have your interests evolved?

This Friday Debate we are doing things a bit differently, with the team and community discussing our tech origin stories -- what first drew us to tech, how our interests in tech have evolved over the years.

Published onMarch 13, 2015

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As things wind down in the aftermath of MWC 2015, we felt now was the perfect time to do something a bit different for the Friday Debate. Instead of the usual news-related topic, we want our team members, participating community members and our readers to tell us a story. What story? Their “nerd” origin story. In other words, tell us about your earliest inspirations for getting into tech. Perhaps it was a gaming system, a computer, or even a famous techie that first drew you into the world of technology? How has your tech interests evolved over the years, and what drew you into making the move over to Android?

We will start by showcasing one of the responses from forum member Cowen K. Gittens, and you can read the rest here

Cowen K. Gittens

What drew me to the world of technology? I believe it’s my general appentency to fix things. I’ve never been to any technical institution of any kind, but anything that goes bad in my house, if I can’t fix it then we might as well throw it away. All praise to the internet and the internet god, Google. Whatever you want to know you can find it and you can learn about it, if you have internet connection. And if you can read, then you can fix anything from a rocket ship to your shoelace.

My first Android phone was my first smartphone, the Motorola Milestone 2. I loved that phone so much it became a part of me. But it wasn’t until I had my Samsung Galaxy S3 that I realized the power I possess by owning an Android device. I started from simple rooting, to flashing custom ROMS and kernels, all the basic stuff to make my S3 more rewarding. But what really drove me, was the fact that Samsung Galaxy s3 wasn’t getting the KitKat and I would be left behind with an obsolete device.

So like I always do, I sat in front of my laptop looking for ways to get KitKat without losing the Samsung Galaxy S3 UI. I found a custom ROM, Blekota, I think, that had the S5 UI but with KitKat. And it was stable enough for me to keep it until I lost my S3 to the fate of evil concrete. Yeah, it fell.

But now, I have a Google Nexus 5 and I am enjoying all the benefits of Google. I’m running Android 5.1 that I sideloaded last night, and I’m rooted with a bunch of other cool stuff.

All in all, my interest in technology generated from a basic inclination to fixing things.

Robert Triggs

I’ve always been a bit of a tinkerer, I suppose. I seem to remember playing with Meccano, KNEX and even a little electronics kit, with lightbulbs and a motor, when I was a youngster. As a teenager I played a fair amount of video games, from TETRIS to Timesplitters, and built my first gaming PC when I was 16 or so, which pushed me to start learning about computer parts.

It might be a cliché, but music was the other half of my teenage years, I spent some serious time learning guitar licks. Curiosity in music and tech piqued, I went on to earn a First-class honours BSc in Sound Engineering, learning all about the science of sound, through acoustics, digital and electronics. I can no longer remember half of the Iron Maiden solos I learnt, but my hobby has evolved into designing amplifiers and coding digital audio effects on my Arduino. Forget a man cave, I’m building a laboratory.

That may sound a bit niche but my interest in technology has become increasingly broad, even Android was just another curiosity at first. Since getting my teeth into mobile, it’s opened my eyes to hardware that I knew little to nothing about a few years ago, such as displays and wireless, which helps to satisfy my inner nerd.

Jimmy Westenberg

Before I became interested in smartphones, I wasn’t interested in tech at all. Maybe I was too young, or maybe I just wasn’t subjected to anything that really clicked with me.
The first time I was shown a real smartphone was in my Freshman year of high school, when my best friend bought a BlackBerry Curve 8330. He showed me the interface, hardware and shortcuts he found during lunch one day. The next week, I went out and bought one for myself. I went to his house that next day and he told me how to navigate around the UI. That’s when I really became infatuated with mobile technology. I was obsessed with that phone. I used to take out the trackball and color it different colors and I’d experiment with different home screen layouts. Then the phone died, and unfortunately I didn’t have insurance.

So I went back to UScellular and bought the HTCDesire, or “the iPhone killer”, as some of you may remember. That’s when I became interested in Android. The Desire had everything I wanted in a smartphone – beautiful HTC-made hardware, the wonderful Android 2.1 Eclair, and decent battery life for the time. Although, my time with the Desire was short-lived. HTCpromised to update the phone to Froyo, though the 4GB of internal storage just couldn’t handle the update. So, I was stuck on an older version of Android, and I instantly felt like I was behind. Not only was the 4GB of storage not enough for the software update, the newest Google Maps update took up way too much internal memory, so I couldn’t even download the apps I wanted. Needless to say, the time I spent with my first Android smartphone wasn’t the most pleasant.

Even with all that said, I still stuck around for some reason. I found value in the Android OS that no other mobile operating system could provide. I wanted to tinker with my smartphone, use custom launchers, and take advantage of the wonderful widgets HTChad pre-installed on the device.

I haven’t really made my way into too many other areas of nerdom, though. I know my way around a computer, but I definitely wouldn’t call myself a computer nerd. I also know a fair bit about wearables and fitness trackers. But ultimately, Android and the mobile tech space is where I got my start, and that’s where I’ll likely stay.

Luka Mlinar

I’ve always been drawn to technology, always looking for that next big thing that’s just around the corner. I suppose it all started when as a kid. I found a Elektro Pionir in my uncles old room, a sort of mechanical kit for kids. That thing was the bomb. You could make all sorts of stuff, yet the electric motor was always my favorite thing to put together.

From there on it was just a matter of time before i got my very first computer. HTML came natural to me and it didn’t take long before I started creating blog and website templates. Dynamic scripts would always interest me the most, so eventually I redesigned the popular Lightbox script to my liking. At that point it was clear that no matter where the road takes me, I would always be in a world rich with technology.

When Android came out I didn’t think much of it. It was only around the time ICS came out that i started seeing the potential in it. After that i got pulled into the whole world of Android and I’m loving every minute of it.

Matthew Benson

Now this is a loaded question indeed. It’s difficult to narrow down my first real interest in tech as it occurred on various fronts. Allow me to briefly explain each:

Games: In terms of video games, I think the official starting point was when I stayed over at a friends’ place and they had (the original) Legend of Zelda. I remember eating chocolate donuts and watching him play the game. The dungeons were just unreal: my only other gaming experiences were of an old Atari machine my dad had, and Super Mario Bros.

Shortly after, my parents got me Zelda and I was just memorized with the world. The awe and sense of wonder in those 8-bit graphics have, to this day, yet to be surpassed. There was just something astonishing about doing so much with what was technically so little back then.

And the instruction manuals. Andrew no doubt will admit his love for both Zelda and manuals as well, as they were just incredible. All the Japanese artwork at a time when none was around in the USA, along with such intriciate descriptions of everything. It really made the game world come alive.

Internet: My family had Prodigy internet service back around 1991, if I remember correctly. Booting it up in DOS, playing Mind Maze and Carmen Sandiego “online” as well as using ancient BBS sites. Wow what a throw back. In the summer of 1993 I remember having the Microsoft Network service and having my first international experience: I was chatting with a Japanese woman studying in the University of Edinburgh.

Some time later I remember, in the Japan Chat board, mentioning how I was having so much trouble with Dragon Quest VI for the SFC (my first imported game ever) and a guy actually faxed the relevant pages to my dad’s office. When that didn’t work, he actually sent me the guide book for free, EMS shipping no less. That was just incredibly nice, and I still remember it to this day.

Television: I remember watching “Dragon Warrior” on TV back around 1991, and had no idea it was even Japanese. I didn’t know who Akira Toriyama was then, either. The show was just so amazing, despite the fact it was on at like 7am on Saturday mornings and there were only 13 episodes that were translated into English. I remember wishing day after day that Enix would make a game version of the TV show, and to this day will still name the main character Abel when I play DQ games.

Additional mention needs to be made to the Super Mario Bros. Super Show and especially the Friday-only Zelda episodes. I remember how much I loved Zelda, and the cartoon was (for me) absolutely epic. Some time later would come Captain N and the Super Mario Bros. show there.

Parents: I suspect the main reason I am so interested in technology is that my father would often buy things. He had a computer back in 1991 that he purchased from a coworker, and I think that was what amazed me. The ability to have this totally different world inside a box. Also perhaps it was my father getting a subscription to Nintendo Power and my first issue being the Tetris-cover one, and then shortly after taking advantage of the Dragon Warrior NES tie-in for those that remember!

You know, after typing all this I honestly have no clue why I like technology. Perhaps it was just that I like new things, and technology is always changing. But hey, reminiscing is awesome!

Now it is your turn

You’ve heard some of the ‘origin’ stories for a few AA team members and one of our forum members. What’s your story? Can you remember back to the first tech that truly pulled you in? As time has passed, what has brought you into the world of Android?

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