Silver Anniversary

25yrThis post right now marks my 25th anniversary since officially becoming a full-time Information Technology professional. I claim officially, because I do not count the prior three years from 1982 – 1985 as part of that span.  Those were my apprentice years writing software that never got commercially published, going to technical college, and helping family and friends enter the home computing era.

DEC PDP-11/44

It all started for me on April 8, 1985 at 8:30am.  I recall just about everything that occurred with that first real job as Computer Programmer.  Klitzner Industries of Providence was a manufacturing firm for differing items: pins, lucite encasings, special edition novelty items; most of which I had no clue what they did, as I was so focused at learning on the job.  And learn I did.  My first month was a real eye-opener to what it took to be a computer programmer — mostly patience and diligence — as you poured through somebody else’s abandoned code, flowcharting, and sometimes recoding for optimizations and quirky bug conditions.  We never did any of that in school!

My first paycheck netted a little more than $190.  Wow, I was rich!  My best prior was busting my butt at a variety of part-time jobs from flipping burgers and gophering at the bowling alley for at best $110.  My only debt I had was my student loan at $72 a month and my mother’s edict of relinquishing my first check of each month for room and board.  Ah, I got to enjoy a full year of the simple and uncomplicated life.  I would later screw up that personal nirvana by marrying the following August, not with total regret, but certainly not one of my better choices in life.

Yes, the realities of life were about to come down on me.  I bolted at the chance to earn a great deal of more pay in producing commercial software, rather than provide in-house programming and application support for meager but steady pay. While I enjoy the speed (time-to-market), challenge (project scope creep), and capitalism (bonuses) of commercial software development, my preferred stations in work life have been within the classic data processing / information services department. And like your first love, I guess there will always be a special place in your heart for that first real job.

Over that 25-year span, I got to do just about everything related to Information Technology. I worked within memory and storage constraints measured in kilobytes to highly-available clusters with terabytes; developed computer applications for mainframes and PCs; manipulated large databases from ISAM to relational objects; network cabling from serial to thick coax to fiber; supported every known technical workstation ever created; systems and network administration from an 80-employee professional firm to an 800-employee hospital campus; and IT management from a single part-time operator to directing a larger scale re-architect of 55 persons to a consolidated Information Services department.  I have spent millions, saved millions, and was key to projects that profited by millions.

I am confident to claim that I have experienced every aspect IT has had to offer. My challenges ahead are focused on improving upon high availability and disaster recovery with newer replication and virtualization technologies, implementing security and change control auditing in a manner that is suitable for developers and its infrastructure alike, and contributing my application and technical expertise within the middleware space.

As I look ahead, I wonder if I will ever look back at this while posting a Gold Anniversary blog entry. The years make it possible, as I am turning 45 in June.  But what about my willingness, or performance at a high-level, or will I still be me at that ripe age of 70 with all of that stacked to make it unlikely?  Not to worry, this ride for 25-years for something I enjoy to do is gratifying.  Onward.