The world is changing fast. It used to be that a programmer actually wrote code. I’m not talking about HTML “programmers”. I’m talking about real-world code that runs on a computer.
Today’s grandfathers might remember sending punch cards through a reader. From the stories that are told about punch cards, those days are best forgotten. Then CRT-based computers arrived on the scene. You could change code, compile, run, and step through code with a debugger in minutes.
Today’s kids shake their heads when someone talks about writing code. I remember a decade ago seeing an eight year-old with an Asteroids-like game on his screen. I asked him if it was a demo program. He said, “No, I wrote it.” My BS meter went off the chart. I asked him how long it took him to write it. He said, “About an hour.”
That was the day I learned about Gamemaker. Drag-and-drop programming. You didn’t have to write your own sprite engine. You didn’t even have to know what a sprite was. You just dragged an asteroid graphic in and then clicked some rules for its creation, movement, and destruction.
The pace of learning hasn’t slowed since. It’s no longer just software that’s drag-and-drop. Today you can design boards using tools like Geppetto. This isn’t like a PCB layout program where you drag transistors around. You can pick up whole chunks of functionality and drop them in. Want a radio? Just drop it in. You can even get all the firmware downloaded and configured. Talk about drag-and-drop.
The skills are starting young. STEM is targeted at littles with toys like Coding Critters. The Codeapillar even comes with a teacher’s guide. Remember hearing about science fairs from Grandpa talking about his volcano demo? Today there are designs contests for all ages. Take the IoT Innovation Challenge, where the winning team gets real money ($50,000) and real support to bring their idea to market. This challenge is not an exception. Check out the Idea Connection, with its list of $62M in available design contest money.
We live in an amazing world. For $50, you can buy a board that is coming close to having more computing power than NASA used to land the Apollo on the moon. We have the resources and tools that put innovation in the hands of nearly everyone.
So what are you going to build?
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