You can read about computer programming from a book, but the best way to understand computer programming is to actually write some programs on a real computer. If you don’t have a computer, borrow a friend’s computer or find some other way to get access to a computer. Trying to become skilled at computer programming without a computer is like trying to become skilled at swimming without any water. To find out about programming, you need an editor and a compiler that works on your computer. Although you could buy an editor and a compiler, why bother when you can find so many editors and compilers for free? You can figure out programming by using a free editor and a compiler; if you later decide you don’t like programming or the particular editor and compiler you’re using, you haven’t lost any money, so just erase it off your computer.
Starting with Windows To encourage as many people as possible to write programs for Windows, Microsoft gives away free compilers called Visual Basic Express, Visual C++ Express, Visual C# Express, and Visual J++, which you can download from the Internet at http://msdn.microsoft.com/vstudio/express.
Most professional programmers use Microsoft compilers, so if you’re interested in knowing how to write programs for Windows, you might as well discover programming through one of Microsoft’s compilers as well.