first started started playing with computers in Junior High School. I had read about BASIC programming over the prior summer, so I was itching to get a chance to practice telling a computer what to do. Once in the lab, I figured I would have it made. Sadly, the administrator of our local computer lab thought that programming should be practiced only by the powerful and secretive wizards at the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, and not by children. No storage offered to students in the lab, and floppy drives were strictly forbidden (because then you might bring in a game or do your own programming). All the Apples (Apple ][s) were tied into this ugly CORVUS CONSTELLATION thingy (a really nasty shared file system), and they managed to prevent students from ever seeing a real command-line prompt. Again, they might program or something. You logged in, you selected a game from the menu (Oregon Trails, Lemonade Stand, Starlanes, etc), and when you left that game you were back at the menu. Simple, safe, boring as all hell.
One day, while playing Starlanes, I accidentally hit control-C. The game
screen went skewed, and at the bottom there was a little "]" with a blinking
cursor next to it. Panic. I HAD BROKEN THE GAME.
Then I realized that this was the Applesoft prompt that
I had read about. I looked around to see if anyone was watching. Nobody
was. I typed "LIST" and almost wet my pants with fear as the entire program
spooled up the screen. I was Behind The Curtain, and I knew it was a matter
of minutes before I was ushered out the door, never to be allowed re-entry.
S * H * I * T * L * A * N * E * S
and saved it out to the Corvus. Later that day there
was a minor uproar. The whole next day, the lab was closed for maintenance.
The day after, my message was gone and there was a hand-written poster
on the bulletin board up offering $1 for the identity of "The Rat", which
was absolutely priceless.