What got this product manager into tech? Choose Your Own Adventure books

Want to learn Apple's BASIC? Turn to page 206.

The forever classic genre of Choose Your Own Adventure. (Photo by Flickr user Kars Alfrink)

While not quite the “Aha!” moment that the stupendously famous Dr. Emett Brown had when he cracked his head on a toilet in the 1950s, Moven Product Manager Denny Brandt got his start in the world of software development through classic Choose Your Own Adventure books.
Brandt lives in Wilmington, but he recently penned an article for our sister site Philly called “Why you should use cloud computing: 2 Moven technologists discuss.” (Mobile banking company Moven is based in the Philly suburbs.)
“My start in tech was out of necessity, as a way to connect people and ideas,” Brandt told us after we caught up with him following that story. “The background is that at some point in middle school, I went through a phase reading those ‘Choose your own adventure’ books.”
A lot of us have read these, right? You start on page one, though maybe two pages in you’re met with a choice. Do you take the elixir? Turn to page 22. Do you take the amulet? Turn to page 105. Do you leave everything as it is? Turn to page 76. So on and so forth.
“The suspense and gamification are fantastic!” Brandt wrote in an email. “I wanted in on this, so I started writing my own adventure stories.”
The trouble with that, though,  was the analog medium. Brandt explained that “writing, editing, and maintaining the storylines and page numbers with pencil and paper was awful.” That’s when he flipped on his Apple IIc.
“I learned Apple‘s BASIC programming language and used it to create a simple user interface for choosing the next move the reader wanted,” Brandt told us. “I thought the adventure choice format was really fun, and tech let me improve the delivery and experience. And I think subconsciously it played into my interest in discovering and analyzing options, and getting to the ‘best’ outcome. Most importantly, I discovered I could use tech to solve a practical problem and create an interesting user experience.”

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