During the pandemic, my son decided to make the game of tic-tac-toe in Python. He built it in a couple of days, and I was a proud dad. However, I woke up the next day realizing that I had made the same game in about the same amount of time 30 years ago. I was the same age then! It dawned on me that programming has not become any easier over the decades . All that we have done is made more humans understand programming.
I went back to challenge my son to write another program. This time to find out if a number is prime or not. I found myself trying to teach programming by saying that he needed to “think like a machine”. That didn’t go anywhere. Then I realized what I was missing. I taught him to first write “the pseudo code” – an explanation of what the program will do but in his own words. That was easy, it took 5 minutes. We started converting that into working code. It was hard for a first time programmer and after a few hours my son said he didn’t want to code any more.
I was taken aback. Why was programming so hard even after 7 decades of innovation and thousands of programming languages being invented? I offered my son that I will find a language that works for him. He immediately said “why can’t this work?” — he was pointing to the pseudo code he had written in 5 minutes for the prime number problem. I laughed and said, “No, those are just your notes. The machine can’t understand that”. “Why can’t it be like Alexa?“, he said incredulously. And that was a light bulb moment. After a long silence I told my son to not learn Python. And thus, Kognitos was born.