28 years of computing and counting...

Software development, that's what it's all about. First a little history, to put things in perspective...

My first even contact with a computer was in 1979. I entered grade nine and the math department had a single computer. That was the only computer in the entire school and no student had a computer at home. Given they only had one, it was not used as part of any course, rather just as a tool students could use on their own if they wish after school. The extent of our knowledge about what could be done with it was based on the few computer manuals that came with the machine. Even with that being the case, a few students could see the potential.

Ever since the summary of 1980 when I purchased my first computer, an Apple ][+, I knew software development would be my future.

Back then doing software development and using a computer in general was not for the faint at heart. Machines were, for the most part, very far from what one now calls user friendly. If you take a good look at the picture of my first computer, you will notice a few very nostalgic items. The monitor is, well, a TV. Even more interesting is, for the first year of it's use, the ONLY storage device was the cassette tape. That is, NO floppy and no hard disk. A few years later I did manage to purchase an Apple ProFILE hard disk, 5MB (yes 5MB not 5GB) for some $800.00. After that it was an Apple //e(which I still have) then in the mid 80's a Macintosh Plus.
Almost all my development done one the Apple was in assembler, programming the 6502 processor directly. The machine did come with AppleSoft basic in ROM, but that was just too slow and limit for any real development.

The second computer the school got was a Apple //+, with a monocrome monitor. I recall spending many days after school huddled around the keyboard with friends playing Dog Fight, where each person basically got assigned to a part of the keyboard which they used to control their aircraft. To the right is the 80-81 year computer club.

By the third year of high school, we had a computer lab with enough computers to start offering courses. At that time we were using Comadore PET computers. I remember creating a number of computer games, simple verical scrolling type games that involved avoiding crashing your ship into incoming objects. Also in the third year of using computers, for the first time I received a 'copy' of a computer program. I had purched software before, for the Apple //+, but never got a copy from some other person.

Prior to the quick access we have today to the internet, computers used modems to access online bulletin boards and other computer communities. The most popular hardware for doing so was a modem, such as the HAYES modem pictures to the left. Also shown below are a wafer used in the fabrication of microprocessors, along with some examples of CPUs. The bottom left foam block contains a 68010 and the right block contains a 65802 and a 6502(from the Apple ][+ pictured above)

A minute to learn...A lifetime to master.

I guess it takes far from one minute to learn, but you get the idea. It does take a lifetime to master programming. As I indicated above, it started for me at the end of the 70's and has continued on from there. Searching for the earliest reference I could find, lead me to an article published in October 1983's Creative Computing magazine. Regarding the winners of a international programming contest, where a friend and I placed 3rd. Many years later the internet started to take shape, much of it initially via usenet newsgroups. This was prior to the world wide web. One such group I was active in was the minix group, which was a open-source OS prior to linux. Here is one reference from the early 90's Minux reference

An unforeseen change of direction. The vast popularity of the internet changed my career in many ways. In the 80's and 90's software development for the most part was about writing complex stand alone applications(I worked on the C and C++ compilers for AIX). The internet changed that, first off the pure number of jobs went through the roof. Thus compensation when up, the complexity of what you were doing went way down(how many jsp pages have I edited). It just happen to work out great for those people luckily enough to get into the industry early, gain experience and be ready for what was happened. Having incorporated also helps a great deal, since making a good wage is of a lot less value if you don't see half of it.