Software December 3, 2010 at 10:59 pm

I am feeling nostalgic tonight and thought I would write a little about my history as a person that “makes computers go.”

I’ve been a developer of software for most of my life.  With the exception of failing miserably to run a business for a few years in starting in 2002, I’ve been programming computers from the age of ten.

It all started when my mom suggested I take a computer programming class one summer.  The computers they had were those Apple II machines.  The editor left a lot to be desired and the screen the school had was challenging to look at for extended periods of time, but that one summer class was the genesis of my career.

Later, I saved all my money from my paper route to purchase a Commodore 64.  (Yeah, back when I was that age “they” actually allowed kids to ride around throwing newspapers at doors early in the morning.)  I delved into Basic and wrote programs for my Junior High School.  It got to the point that my programs started taking up too much memory so I learned how to program 6502 assembly and completely rewrote a simple grade book program in assembly so I could use the extra 8k of memory “under” the basic interpreter.

It wasn’t until High School that I ever touched a PC.  Our school had a lab of PC Jr machines.   High School introduced me to Pascal on the mainframe we had. I didn’t do much with those.

In college I was introduced to C in 1989.  K&R was all the rage and I wrote my first C program on a AT&T 3b2.  When the school library offered Turbo C 1.5 and later 2.0 for a really good student discount I built my first PC computer.  A super fast 386sx 16 with a whopping 1mb of memory, a floppy drive and CGA card.  I was styling!  That puppy could boot DOS, create a RAM disk and copy Turbo C onto a RAM drive!  That was awesome!

Much later in 1990 I was able to afford a HUGE 40mb MFM hard disk.  Wow!!!!  It was with that setup and later a VGA card and monitor that I started learning this “new thing” called C++. Borland had released a compiler for this new revolutionary (too many) way of programming .  I figured this new language would be all the rage.  Ha!  It wasn’t until 1994 that I wrote my first chunk of code professionally in C++.  C++ took a number of years to gain momentum and become the power house it is today.

Even Windows took many years to become something useful.  I got Windows 3.0 for a Christmas present from my Mom later that year.  I was one of the lucky ones.  I had the “huge” hard drive and a VGA monitor.  Was I styling or what?  I went with AMI Pro as my word processor of choice.  I had used Word 5.0 for DOS (my college thought that Word was better than Word Perfect) but choose AMI pro in the Windows world.

It wasn’t until 1993 that I started working with Windows.  The president of the company I worked for actually said that Windows was a waste of time in 1992 and I started looking for a job.  He found out, and let me go.  I went to work for the “competition.”  They were doing Windows stuff!

I still wrote code in C because it was easier to work in C with most Windows programs at the time.  (This little thing called documentation was all written for C guys and OWL was still “new.”)

In 1994 I wrote my last true C program.  That was also the year this new fangled thing called the STL was introduced and I fell “in love.”  The original documentation was challenging at best, and even though Borland had one of the best implementations around at the time, it still took me a while to get it working.  For the first time I didn’t have to code the logic of a list or worry about vector allocations.  Life was good for a few years.  (At least from a professional stand point.) I’ll write more about this time later.

And then I started working for Microsoft in 1996.  Winking smile It was one of the best moves I ever made, but it wasn’t without challenges!  The group I came to work for had this “fear” of the STL.  I didn’t listen and used it anyway.  Surprised smile That and templates were my “hero’s.”

I am going to have to continue this later.  My journey through MS has even more “intrigue” and  I even skipped over the machine I built for running this “New Technology” thing.


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