The Fresno Center For Open Software Literacy

Why code? It's all about making stuff happen, turning your ideas into realities.

My first programming experience was in 1969, writing programs in BASIC on a Teletype terminal connected to a time-sharing system someplace.

One of my first programs was a sort of text-only version of something like "Missile Command". It was incredibly simple, but seeing an idea translated into something I could—at least in the form of a printout or a paper tape—hold in my hands was amazing to me.

A few years later, I was writing "Conway's Game of Life" in FORTRAN, and a few years after that, I was writing programs to help run what would eventually become the Internet.

In this way, coding is a creative activity, like drawing, or carpentry, or playing a musical instrument, or gardening. And like those activities, and it will teach you a lot about yourself. Come learn with us.

Writing and understanding code is an increasingly essential skill. We want to help people become "code-literate".

We search the web for information, and use social media to interact with people we've never actually met. We play video games, and we use a GPS navigation device to find the way to places we've never been.

In the 1960s and 1970s, computers were multimillion dollar pieces of delicate equipment, kept in climate- and accessed-controlled rooms. Few people got the opportunity to work with one.

Today, you can buy a powerful personal computer the size of a deck of cards for twenty dollars. You can turn it into a home media server, a learning tool, a robot, almost anything you can imagine.

But you need to learn to tell it what you want it to do for you. And that's what programming is all about. And anyone can learn how.

We want to bring more "Silicon" to the Central Valley.

By repurposing old, donated laptops and PCs for use as lab and teaching machines, with smaller, cheaper, more powerful computers like the Arduino and Raspberry Pi, and using powerful and accessible programming languages like Scratch and Processing, we're making it possible for anybody, no matter how young or how old, to learn to write computer programs.

America needs better software education. We're starting right here in Fresno.

We're launching the week of December 8th through the 14th by participating in the national "An Hour of Code" campaign. We'll be offering one-hour classes for both kids and adults all week long. Please take a look at our events schedule for details.

Ongoing, we plan to offer afternoon and evening programs in Scratch, Processing, the Linux operating system, web design and development, and participating in "The Internet of Things" using tiny and inexpensive computers like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone Black and others.

We're a completely volunteer-run and supported effort. Our computer lab and classroom space is being provided through the generosity of our sponsor, St. Paul's United Methodist Church, and much of the equipment has been donated by members of the St. Paul's congregation.

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