I was reading Raymond Chen’s blog earlier today when I came across an entry where he talks about the ASCII character 7 which emits a beep on the command prompt. That brought back memories of one of the first programs I ever wrote on a computer. It was 1989 and some of us from Class 7 were enjoying one of our first visits to the school’s computer lab which proudly housed two 8088 machines with 640 KB RAM. Our seniors were using the lab at that time, and we were given a minute to just tap around on the keyboard. GWBASIC was running on the machine in front of me and I typed in the following program, and then ran it.
10 PRINT "Lalu" + CHR$(3) + "Athira" 20 GOTO 10
Lalu was my classmate and Athira was supposedly his girl friend, though in all probability she may just have been an unfortunate girl who happened to live in his neighborhood. We were a bunch of 11 and 12 year olds in a Jesuit catholic all-boys school, and the whole idea of having a girlfriend was the most revolting and embarrassing thing you could be accused of. Imagine poor Lalu’s plight when he looked at the monitor (one of those old phosphor green ones) and saw the following text scrolling infinitely on screen.
To say that he was horrified would be an understatement. He was mad with rage, and his face turned red. What made the situation even more pitiable from his perspective was that all his attempts to try and halt the program failed – it was the first time he was in front of a computer and he simply had no clue on how to break an executing Basic program. The rest of us were sporting sadistic grins on our faces and I was proudly standing there basking in glory. I had planned this during the early half of the day and after a perfect execution of my sinister plan, what could I do but revel in my moment of splendor. Of course, within a minute, one of our seniors came in and kicked us all out of the lab. Poor Lalu had to live with this incident for quite a long time, and the rest of us never wasted a single opportunity we got to remind him of this.
What amazed me earlier today was that this incident was completely out of my mind for years, and then all of a sudden it all came back. I even remembered the girl’s name (Athira) which was quite astonishing. It was almost as if one of my brain’s storage areas woke up from years of dormancy on seeing Raymond’s blog entry. I wonder if Lalu ever got anything going with Athira, or if she even existed. 11 year old boys can sometimes have a very wild imagination.