Like Father, Like Son

Posted on 26th Feb 2010 at 10:59 by Joe Martin with 39 comments

Joe Martin
I had an interesting experience the other day. It was late and I, staggering home from a party through the streets of Reading, overheard something unusual. My ears caught a familiar word in the lull between the music I was listening to and I looked around. It was a dreary, drizzly night and the streets were almost empty, so it didn’t take me long to locate the source.

The word I had heard was ‘Tegra’ and what I saw was a father walking behind me, explaining something to his young son. The kid must have been no older than 11, in fact.

Now, I should clarify that I don’t really know very much about Tegra. I know the basics, but my knowledge pales in comparison to the rest of the and Custom PC staff. It’s why you don’t see me writing graphic card reviews. Still, I knew enough to follow a bit of this eavesdropped conversation in which the Dad explained what Tegra was to his boy.

I was intrigued. It wasn’t the type of conversation you’d expect to hear on a city street at 11AM and the fact that the boy was earnestly interested fascinated me. Discreetly and slyly, I stopped my music and let the pair overtake me. We were heading in the same direction and I wanted to hear more about the conversation, so I listened in for a bit as I made my way home.

Like Father, Like Son
Like father, like son

I only followed the two for a few minutes before the turned down a different path and I decided to stay my course and guide my sobering body back to bed, but I heard them have a remarkable discussion. The father (I presume he was the Dad anyway, not just some friendly IT consultant who’d picked up a follower) told his son all about what Tegra was, how it worked and what it meant for current software trends. I can’t remember the exact words, but he ended up prophesising something bad about Tegra's influence on future hardware.

What amazed me most though was the fact that the boy was actually listening to all this, asking questions when he could which belied a knowledge deeper than mine. Clearly, the boy knew a lot about hardware – and it seemed that he had inherited it from his Dad.

Like Father, Like Son
My own Dad's interest in the Thief games was important to me

That got me thinking along similar lines, making me wonder if I hadn’t once shared discussions with my Dad about computers or videogames. I’ve spoken before about how important my Dad was in encouraging my interest in games and how he has at times shared it, but I always considered that a bit of a fluke. I, perhaps naively, didn’t really consider that such enthusiasm was so often inherited or passed down.

So, if my story isn’t as unique as I once presumed, then tell me yours. Was there someone who encouraged you to take an interest in computers and gaming or was it something you came to on your own? Is your enthusiasm based on nature or nurture? Hit the comments below and let me know your thoughts.


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PyrO_PrOfessOr 26th February 2010, 11:16 Quote
For me, it was nature. I lvoed comptuer games when I was younger, but the only real influence my parents had over me was buying our first PC. From then on my own instinct and want for knowledge took over.

Also, if you were staggering home at 11AM it must've been one helluva party ;-)
ZeDestructor 26th February 2010, 11:17 Quote
Never happened to me or anyone else I've ever met... Most people down where I live regard PCs as some sort of alien device, making me the alien geek for all those around...

Its a similar story with cars and pretty much everything else with electronics in them...

barndoor101 26th February 2010, 11:22 Quote
i was the same - my dad has been into PCs since almost the beginning, and i cant remember not ever having a PC to use. all the way from the first one i can remember (a 386 running Norton Commander/DOS, then a Tiny Pentium MMX and so on). although i wasnt much older than the boy in your story when i began to be the one explaining new stuff to my dad ;)
Cyberpower-UK 26th February 2010, 11:36 Quote
I can't tear my kids of LittleBigPlanet (budding level designer at 7) and Mario to talk to them about their dinner let alone graphics tech. He did like it when I explained why there was a graphics card in the oven making a funny smell.

My dad was a musician and only one of us has gone down that route but we did game together sometimes. I used to try and convince my mum that games are an art form but she only ever really played Snake and Simon the Sorcerer.
GFC 26th February 2010, 11:40 Quote
Oh wow. I remember when my older brother picked me up to play 'this new game called counter-strike [1.1]'. Since then I've been an avid FPS gamer, which lead me to being a hardware junky.
Flibblebot 26th February 2010, 11:55 Quote
Unfortunately, my dad is one of those people who likes to think they know about computers but actually knows nothing. I moan at him all the time for things like never putting line breaks in e-mails, having hundreds of icons on his desktop (of which he only ever uses a couple) or installing every bit of crap software that anyone recommends or sends him. I've given up.

What I did inherit from my father is the love of technology, especially new technology. I remember him bringing home such technological marvels in the 70's - like a pong game or one of the early Philips VCRs (which he could never get to work and ended up taking back). To this day, if it's shiny and new and electronic, I lust after it :p
barndoor101 26th February 2010, 12:23 Quote
Originally Posted by Flibblebot
To this day, if it's shiny and new and electronic, I lust after it :p

sorry, couldnt resist :D
yakyb 26th February 2010, 12:36 Quote
my Grandad Designed Radar in WW2 an has been a massive influence on me
Comet 26th February 2010, 13:14 Quote
Had my first contact when I was around 5 or 6 years old. My older brother got the interest from some friends and my parents decided to invest on that . My brother didn't quite pushed me into computers. Actually I think I was a real pain in the ass because I was always nagging my brother for computer time. For my mothers disgrace both her kids were destined to follow this career. As I got older this type of conversations were pretty natural.
Skiddywinks 26th February 2010, 13:48 Quote
My Dad was a massive computer fan. We had all sorts of olden age hardware. It was thanks to him that I first played Doom, Duke Nukem and all the other FPS's of the time. It's no wonder FPS became my genre of choice. He even modelled a Duke Nukem 3D level based on our house. Alien in the closet and all.

He also introduced me to such greats as Warcraft, Worms, Full Throttle, Civilisation, System Shock, and all the great games of the time.

he died when I was still only a kid, but his influences have definitely had an effect on me. I find it no coincidence that I love Starcraft (and am on the beta), nor do I find it less than obvious why I enjoy games like Bioshock, Battlefield and Half-Life. And damn, Worms never gets old. Does it?
nukeman8 26th February 2010, 13:51 Quote
My son at the age of 2 has an uncanny knack for pc games,
while im a pretty heavy gamer i have not once tried to get him to play anything, he just got on my chair 1 day and started randomly hitting buttons on the keyboard. After 5 minutes of me showing him what button does what he now plays monster truck nitro and can complete the first 10 or so levels by himself within the time limit.

Now i started noticing him taking an interest in what else i play, not wanting a go but happily sitting there watching, making the odd comment. Interest growing.

Its scary, as at that age i was expecting him to play with cars and toy blocks not wanting to sit around and watch me play EvE
l3v1ck 26th February 2010, 13:58 Quote
??? My dad encourage me with hardware? You've got to be joking. When I replaced his case the other year I had to show him how to turn this PC on. It only had the power and reset buttons on he front.
Thedarkrage 26th February 2010, 14:06 Quote
I have to say my interest in gaming is most defiantly from my father. He use to buy the consoles and games for me (we probably him considering he was only in his early 20's at the time) i can remember completing super Mario bros :) and later on when i was older on a Atari ST playing but never completing Another world.

But my fascination for Pc comes from not having on when every one of my high school friends having one. saying that I'm turning my nice in to a pc geek and she is only 4 :)
Stonerd 26th February 2010, 14:20 Quote
I just love the fact that you were staggering back from a party at 11am... well played sir. :-D
Centy-face 26th February 2010, 14:33 Quote
My dad certainly is responsible for getting me into gaming with the Spectrum and Atari 2600 but after that it was from friends going through the NES etc till I convinced my parents to buy a PC then it was all about Doom on many floppy disks I got little or no encouragement with computers and within a few weeks I was the one at 10 years old who everyone went to with tech problems and it's been that way for the last 16 years.

Building my own pc at 16 was the scariest and most satisfying moment of my life and I plan to pass that down to my budding little gamer but at 5 he just likes Ben 10 on the DS but he will learn. It's probably one of the few ways PC gaming will really go forward with the next generation of kids.
Xir 26th February 2010, 14:49 Quote
My parents bought an atari 2600 when I was...hmmm seven or eight, and then a commodore 16 when I was about 10 and a PC (Commodore PC-1) when I was 12.

My mother used it more than my dad though.

And yes, I still have all of said computers (not the ones after those though)
crazyceo 26th February 2010, 15:13 Quote
I've taken a really active interest in bringing my kids into any build I have going on. My lad has turned a really good hand to it and is consistantly bored in his ICT lessons in school as he probably knows more than his teacher. My daughter just tells me to get it working properly and if she walks in and I'm reading a copy of CustomPC mag or reading through an online review of a motherboard here on Bit-Tech, she just gives out the usual shout of "Mum! Dad's being a geek again!".

I mean "C'mon!" is that anything to be ashamed of?
StoneyMahoney 26th February 2010, 15:59 Quote
First taste of computer was at 3 years old, my parents bought a Commodore 64, mainly for my older brother. Then we had an Amstrad 1512 (dual 5 1/4 floppy drives! Wow!) and a couple of 286s. My big bro introduced me to the Vax minicomputer at his university, let me help build a computer for the time, taught me some programming.

Now, he's worked for Telewest, IBM and the MoD, and I've worked for publishing firms, DHL and the NHS.
tron 26th February 2010, 16:02 Quote
My whole household (dad, mum, brothers and sister) grew up gaming on the early home computers and consoles.

My dad would always bring home the latest machine along with games.

I taught myself some programming when I was 7
knuck 26th February 2010, 16:38 Quote
If I do what I do today it's thanks to my brother who is 7 years older. I realized a few years ago that even when I was quite young (under 10) I was already interested in technology (and was already quite a gamer since I started at 4). He bought the first computer of the house back in 97 and I've been using one daily ever since 1999. It only took me a few months after I had my own computer (1999) before I would start replacing parts and fixing them. I learned the very basics with my brother but then proceeded to learn everything by myself, which was something to be proud of back then because internet was pretty basic

During my teenage years, personal issues resulted in me spending way too much time alone at home on my computer. I got good, real good. However after a while when you see everyone else around you succeeding in life you want to actually do something with yours so I tried to stop messing around and I got a diploma in network management. It's a good diploma and I will never be out of a job with it. I also wouldn't be studying IT engineering without this diploma

I wouldn't have this today if it weren't from my brother and my love for computers back then
Psytek 26th February 2010, 16:59 Quote
My 13 year old brother and cousin both know more about computers than I did when I was 18. I think it's a generational thing, they grow up around it now, just like how at one point 'rocket science' was some mystical new thing that only the worlds smartest people did at NASA, and now it's on the A-level physics curriculum.
knuck 26th February 2010, 17:04 Quote
I only partially agree with this theory. A friend of mine say that future generations of gamers will be/are better than we are. I say that's crap and I'm still better than them and will remain so ! haha
thehippoz 26th February 2010, 17:14 Quote
my pops is a at&t retired unix programmer..

I grew up wanting to be a programmer just like him.. it's funny though I never learned unix and went strait from atari basic to some assembly.. he's lost in windows and hates it- I'm lost in unix

so I dunno if you entirely get whatever your parents do.. also he doesn't play games- I think he tried to play me one time when I was 10.. we used to play alot of chess together though up until high school.. then he couldn't beat me anymore, I learned all his splits and tricks and couldn't get a game going with him for the life of me after that.. learned alot from him though.. he took me fishing which I love and some hunting ;) can sit out there for hours on end
pimonserry 26th February 2010, 19:35 Quote
My Dad buys all the computer magazines in his house.
He dabbles in web design, and other code too.
He got me onto my first PC (Windows 3.1, 386?)
Not to mention, customers frequently mention how young the people in computer shops are.

It's ok, we're supporting the older generation :)
jestyr8 26th February 2010, 20:29 Quote
My step-dad was the major puter influence on me when I was younger. It all started when he brought home an Atari 400. But before that we had a Pong..the Sears version, an Atari 2600, an Itellivision, and a Vectrex. After the Artari 400 moved up to an 800 then a C-64 on to an Amiga 128. There was a 268 then a 386 on which we played the original X-Wing and others. He helped me build my first 486, an old AMD DX4-100 which I then OCed to a DX2-100 with an FSB jump to 50mhz. I have been a PC junkie ever sys and never looked back. Although he did kinda freak when I showed him my 6 21inch monitor setup..LOL
AlexB 26th February 2010, 20:33 Quote
I'm nothing like either parent. Both are technophobes, neither like cars, and neither like games.
CardJoe 26th February 2010, 21:09 Quote
Originally Posted by uktardbasher
I just love the fact that you were staggering back from a party at 11am... well played sir. :-D

Um, actually that was a typo. Supposed to be 11PM. I don't party that hard usually. Right now I'm wearing a cardigan.
Hex 26th February 2010, 21:19 Quote
Sorry, I can't help myself. Reading isn't a city ;)
wuyanxu 26th February 2010, 21:47 Quote
my father is a software algorithms writer, but he always said programming is too demanding once you enter a certain age, so he pushed me towards electronics.

well, now, im in UK's best electronics university, one of world's top 100 overall, and in around top 5 for electronics. thanks to him, learnt many things and experiences that hopefully will be useful to me later on in life.

but like father like son, i have now dived into high level synthesis, which are basically algorithms for automating C/Matlab to hardware..... so i will probably be heading to where he is: algorithm writer. (currently just a researcher)

(sorry, don't mean to gloat, but not many electronics university get instant IET membership on graduation, and are instant Chartered Engineers)
JasonCase24 27th February 2010, 05:49 Quote
My dad never been that computer addict, maybe because he simply rely on his secretary for any computer works? However, my dad brought our first PC upon the first launch of computer for home use. I think that's his greatest, there wasn't a time that we're not able to use computer since then.
confusis 27th February 2010, 07:59 Quote
My Grandad (now passed) bought my family a sega megadrive, then a very early 486, then a playstation the moment the original GT came out. He watched my 3 siblings and my two cousins grow up with tech, and he knew it was right IMHO. My cousin is now a tech for Fujitsu, my brother is halfway thru a course in IT and i'm about to start my own IT company. I thank him so much for what he did for us!

However my dad's a n00b. My mum taught me a lot of what I know about pcs. We started messing with the 486, and then the pentium2 we got when they were brand new. Messing and fiddling taught me what I know. I knew how to install windows 95 about 3 weeks after it was released in NZ. w00t (i was 9 btw). i only hope my kids follow the path. My 15mo old son watches me play games and can't help but play typing and using the mouse on the other pc. My 1week old daughter already knows the sound of typing and it relaxes her it seems
ZeDestructor 27th February 2010, 16:59 Quote
Hmmm. Interesting. There seems to be a lot of hand-me-down geekiness going on around here.... I've personally never met anyone over 30 who's even remotely interested in games and technology :( (discounting a fellow audiophile whom I'm training up :D)
dark_avenger 1st March 2010, 03:21 Quote
Father runs a computer store and now I work there as a tech.
Was working here on weekends, etc for longer than I can remember
mi1ez 1st March 2010, 11:59 Quote
My dad once made a laptimer for our scalectrix set that consisted of a read relay activated by the cars' magnets, and a small program in Basic that counted down the race and timed your laps. I thought this was the bomb at the time and that got me into programming, and from there I moved into a more hardware interest.
mi1ez 1st March 2010, 12:00 Quote
My dad also designs and builds his own audio amplifiers and CD player circuitry.
Jenny_Y8S 1st March 2010, 23:32 Quote
Originally Posted by nukeman8
My son at the age of 2 has an uncanny knack for pc games,

A year ago my 3yo twins, got to mash my PS2 joypads on lego star wars for five minutes when it was pulled out of the cupboard for a friends kid we were baby sitting.

A month ago they got a single go each on some wii based rock band drum action, which they really loved and were pretty good at at.

That's the entire limit of their gaming experience, they are little kids for Mario's sake, there'll be a time when I won't be able to get them off a damn pc / console / slate / smart phone / netbook / tablet / nettop but may that day be a long way away.

While they are happy dragging me out to splash in puddles and kick mud around gaming is not going to get a look in.
Pookeyhead 2nd March 2010, 07:51 Quote
Definitely nature for me. My whole family are technophobes.
|V| 4 L k i 3 R 4th March 2010, 15:57 Quote
My father started me programming in BASIC and working with LOTUS 123 back in the day. I have since surpassed his ability with technology but my ability was incubated by his.
The same goes for cars. He tinkers with cars (rebuilding a '69 Mustang GT as a mid-life crisis) and I definitely love to play with my Evo.
Personally I believe that our parent's have a huge input on what we do later in life as they are the first influences on our thought processes. They teach us how to make decisions and deal with the world in general at a very early stage in our development. The synaptic pathways that are built then are only reinforced as we grow older.
equinox 7th March 2010, 15:24 Quote
My dad was in the Royal Navy and did a lot to push the computerisation of his workplace, and my mum worked for IBM for >25 years so, whilst I don't really remember a time without some kind of computer in the house, my parents always regarded them as purely business machines (to be fair they were company computers).

We got our first family PC when I was 9, after I started playing FIFA 97, Theme Hospital and the original C&C I didn't look back, but couldn't get ANY of my family members to join in, ever, on consoles or PC.

Going to an all-boys boarding school certainly encouraged it, weekly Saturday night LAN parties were fab.

My niece is going to be different, I think, my brother in law is even more of a techie and a gamer than I am, she already loves playing on the CBeebies website
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