June 01, 2003
My first experience with a computer was in the winter of 1978, using a thermal paper terminal, an acoustic coupler (at 300 BAUD!), and time share on a local mainframe computer.
Previously I had wanted to be an architect, even to the point of studying mechanical drawing in high school. However the fates had other plans for me as my best friend’s father brought home this odd suitcase-sized terminal one evening. After he finished his work he showed my friend and I how to play text based game called ‘Star Trek.’ We played almost all night. Cam was interested in playing the game. I wanted to know how it worked.
In subsequent sessions I learned how to list the source code and later modify it, and thus my programming career was underway. I was fortunate in that my high school had a time sharing arrangement with a local manufacturer and I was able to take a course of basic programming, followed by a COBOL course at the local community college.
In the 25 years or so that have followed I’ve worked on many different computers, using several languages, for purposes large and small. I’ve developed scripts for my own personal use, and distributed applications that are used by thousands in their jobs daily. And through it all I’ve never lost that initial spark, that most important question, what makes this work?