Like so very many of my friends and colleagues, I got my start as a programmer by fooling around on the home computers of the 1980’s. One of the reasons those computers were so great was that they all came with a programming language built in - and it was easy to get started.

My first computer was a ZX81. Like most kids, I just wanted to play games. But, my parents were mean (or so I thought) - while I had the computer, I didn’t have any games. Instead, they bought me a Learning Lab which taught me to write my own programs.

Before long, I was buying magazines and spending hours typing in the program listings so I could play the games that others had written. Of course, some of those programs had problems, and I found a certain satisfaction in fixing those bugs.

Eventually, I was capable of writing the games that I had so desperately wanted to play. But, they no longer interested me - the process of writing the game was much more engaging and satisfying than the game itself could ever be.

Some smart fellows at MorrisonSchwartz have developed a new programming environment named KPL (short for Kids Programming Language) that is explicitly intended to allow the current generation of children to experience the same thrill of creation as my generation did.

KPL is both a programming language and a development tool, both designed to make it easy for kids to write their own programs. Instant feedback is a key principle - KPL makes graphics and sound programming both easy and fun.

There is also a solid upgrade path - the IDE is deliberately designed so that the step to more complex packages (like Visual Studio and Eclipse) is as easy as possible.

KPL runs on the .NET Framework and is freeware - both free to download, and free to use. I’ve begun playing with KPL, and will be introducing it to my son as soon as I have a handle on it myself. He’s a little young, but maybe, just maybe, this will be the start of something wonderful.

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