The TRS-80 in my High School library
Walked into my library in High one day and there it was, sitting in the corner a 'computer'. I had never seen one in person before and had no idea what it was. Needless to say, I was hooked when I found out you could actual write commands to control it. I remember using logo and Basic on it. Being able to control a piece of hardware had a certain appeal to it. I had to bring something home, so I bought an Apple knockoff, called a Franklin Ace 1000. It had a 20 MB hard drive and a floppy drive. I bought Pascal for it and started slogging through it. I was able to take AP programming in my Jr. year, which happen to be..You guessed it, Pascal.
College and the little pink elephants
Off to a local college I went and decided to go into biochemistry, hoping to minor in either genetics or virology. What happened to my desire to control those mechanical beasts know as computers? I went to the next step, learning how the human body was programmed. Imagine controlling the genetic structure of creatures;little pink elephants, humans with any color hair or eyes or tattoo like markings. I found viruses incredibly interesting, alive yet they have the one of the simplest structures.
Computers took a back seat until I was told I had to take electives. You remember, those courses designed to make you a more rounded individual. I really didn't have any spare brainpower to give (organic chemistry was sucking the IQ out of me), I gravitated towards the safe bet, which was programming. I found it easy and wound up taking a Fortran-77 course from one of the original developers;Harlan Herrick. In my mind, once you understand the concept of programming, languages are just syntax. I tutored students in Fortran,Pascal,Modulo-2, ADA, although I only took Fortran.
Turns out I didn't want to go to college for the 6-10 years it would take for me to open my own lab and start building my elephants. I didn't have any more love for organic chemistry or calculus and I ran out of money. So ended my college journey.
Journey to the Present
I remember reading a magazine article about a database programing and the SQL language. I can't say why this caught my attention. It was sometime around 1990. I was intrigued by this language and began scoop up everything I could find on it. I got my first DBA job in 1993 as an Informix DBA for a small family owned publishing company. I jumped from there to Simon-Schuster and Sybase. I found out that not all RDBMS are alike, more training!!! Working in NY was exhilarating, but taking the train between Philly and NY began to take its toll. Then I got a call from a recruiter.
Recruiter:"I am representing a company that is heavy into Sybase and is located in PA. Ae you interested?"
Little did I know she was representing Sybase. I got a job working for Sybase Professional Services, my dream job. I get inside training, a new problem to solve at every client, the opportunity to train others. I started writing Java programs to build a toolbox. Yet another language :) How did I jump from SQL to Java? I never lost my desire to program as it an outlet for my creativity. Sybase allowed you to run java natively and one of the salesmen had begun telling clients, "We have a toolbox our consultants use to help identify issues". We do? He said, " We will soon enough". So myself and a few of the other consultants began developing little programs to extract dependency information, nicely format stored procedures, show long running queries, etc.
This lasted for a few years and my district manager decided our district had an incredible bunch of geeks and if he broke out on his own he could forge a small company of concentrated talent. He started his company and we all followed. It was short lived. One thing led to another and he know runs a company called Inventa, which bought the software we designed while working for his little company.
I jumped around a little trying to get work closer to my home and figuring out if I wanted to raise a family 2 hours from my family and my wife's family. During this hoping I was introduced to Microsoft SQL Server. Very similar to Sybase (they used to share a code base long ago). One more challenge, one new twist, another chance to learn, and more goals to achieve (Certs and MVP).
My life was changing, my wife's career was changing and we decided to move back home. I tried to keep my Java skills sharp and designed a java based program which would extract keywords from Sybase/SQL Server objects. Website/corporate name, the works. I even tried to get into the local small business incubator, but programming is not something they are familiar with.
So here I am in a small 'used to be a coal mining' town working for yet again a publishing company raising a family. When I say a small town, I share a property line with my in-laws, 10 min from my brother and 20 min from my mom. S-M-ALL, SMALL.