When I was a kid, my family had an Atari 800 computer.

I loved that computer, and I especially loved programming it in Atari BASIC. When we took family trips, my parents would tell each of us kids to bring something to read in the car, and I’d trot out carrying the Atari BASIC reference manual.

I wrote programs to print my name and GOTO 10 to make a dizzying pattern. I saw Zork and tried to recreate it in BASIC, but got lost in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike. I discovered graphics mode and drew a spaceship with PLOT and DRAWTO, then learned to PEEK for joystick input so I could move it around the screen.

One of my favorite programs drew a wave. I liked how it impressed the adults, who perceived a child exploring advanced math. It was a sham⁠—the math behind it is simple⁠—but I was carried along by their excitement, wondering if I’d grow up to be a genius? (Spoiler: ordinary.)

Recently I redesigned and cast around in my history for an image⁠—something other than my own face⁠—to use as a symbol. I recalled the wave program and fired up the Atari++ emulator to reconstruct it. Here is the result.

Using this as my website symbol is a mixed reminder for me. As an adult, I’d rather enjoy building something together than try to impress. But it also reminds me of how much I’ve always loved programming, starting with Atari BASIC way back then.

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