From my earliest memories, I knew my life would be about technology. My dad is a prominent electronics engineer, so my childhood was not only filled with all manner of gizmos and widgets, but gizmo and widget parts as well. We built our own gizmos, and when the IBM personal computer was introduced around 1982, we built those too. And then the PC clones came and unleashed an avalanche of technology that we are still riding today. Somewhere around that time, I became interested in the software behind all those computers. Literally no one understood software. Those were still the days when you had to build your own software if you wanted to do anything meaningful with a computer. Then, it was just a matter of evolving with the technology.
The thing that kept me interested in computer for so long was making them communicate with each other. I remember the days of 300 baud modems when it took literally forever to transfer data between two computers connected with a phone line. Then as modems became more advanced, it became worth it to create hubs of information called BBSs. A BBS was a computer where someone would call with their computer and take/leave files and text for the next person. Most BBSs only had one phone line, so it was rare to chat with another person via computer.
Then came the Internet. It was around 1993 when I worked for a software company in Newport Beach. We had a 56k "frame relay" Internet connection shared within the whole company. I could connect my 14,400 baud modem to the Internet via our connection from home after hours. From day one I couldn't get enough, and I started to learn how to program for this new phenomenon. Time passed, the connections got faster and the computers got more powerful. I'm typing this on a 6 core Phenom II based machine, connected to what would be a 100 million baud (bps) modem if I paid for the fastest speed tier of my Internet provider.
But in some ways the more things change, the more they stay the same. I still use computers and software to solve almost the exact business problems I was solving 20 years ago. User interfaces are prettier and the software is more functional (and faster) but the fundamantal aspects of it haven't changed, unlike everything else. But for some reason the number of top-level programmers seems to be decreasing. They are being replaced by people who spit out code cheaply, and because of that, the overall quality of software is decreasing rather than increasing. I've spent my career emphasizing quality over quantity, and that philosophy carries over into my consulting now. I have no desire to be the cheapest. But I have strived for 25 years and continue to strive towards being the best.--Mark Wing