I touched my first computer about 20 years ago and it was love at first sight. Back then I also wrote my first program and I’ve been programming ever since in about a dozen programing languages on several platforms. In the last few years I have worked on several projects on scalability issues and most often in a cloud computing environment. I have been a humble programer on some of these projects but I scaled myself to an expert consultant on other projects. I decided to share my experience and knowledge with other people by writing this blog. I also hope that this will help me find new people and opportunities. That was the short story. But if you like rembembering the old (but not very old) computing days read on…

I was just a kid when I received my first computer from my dad. Actually it might not even qualify as a computer by todays’ standards: it was called CIP (a local brand) but some old guys will be able to identify it by the tag “Sinclair ZX Spectrum compatible”. It had a Z80 CPU and 64K of RAM. The “storage” was provided by a regular audio cassette player which actually meant that it would take 5 minutes or so to fill the RAM with data from the “storage” – but that only when you were lucky. Because most of the time the loading process failed and you had to adjust the player’s read head, rewind the tape and then pray to God once more during some other few minutes until the loading process fails again. By using this great technology it usually took me about an hour to load BASIC into RAM because although the ZX Spectrum family would usually get BASIC into ROM, this particular computer that I was using had no such thing. Fortunately I soon got an upgrade for my system to a newer cassette player that got the loading process right most of the time.

So you probably assume that my first program was written in BASIC and you would be perfectly right. After some time I switched to BETA-BASIC which was actually a set of extentions to the standard BASIC used by ZX Spectrum family that would make the language more similar to BASIC implementations from the PC world such as QBASIC. After some 4 years during which I have become a BASIC master I got my first PC and the world has changed forever.

It had a [email protected] CPU, 4 MB RAM (4x1MB short SIMMs), a motherboard that I can’t quite remember anything about except that it had the IDE and FD controllers as separate ISA cards, a 200 MB Quantum HDD, a 3” FDD and a 512kB Trident SVGA card. It all came together with a 14” Daewoo monitor that could only do 800×[email protected] and with a mouse with just 2 buttons and a keyboard without any Win key, Sleep key or Make-Coffee key (this is one thing that I most certainly miss about those days – I hate all todays’ keyboards with all these silly keys). After a year or so I had an upgrade consisting in a Matsushita Panasonic 2x CD-ROM drive which also had it’s own separate ISA controller card but which also was the best optical drive I have ever seen. It woud probably still run today without errors.

The software for this computer was DOS 6.2, Windows 3.1, Norton Commander, Norton Utilities and Office 6 basically. Windows 95 hadn’t been yet invented, Windows NT 4.0 wouldn’t run because it needed at least 8 MB of RAM and at that moment I hadn’t yet heard of any other operating system for PC (I knew there were Apples though). I thought it was a Microsoft world and nowadays I’m sorry that I was somehow right.

The years went by and I changed many computers, programs, OSes and so on. There were some other historycal moments worth mentioning though. One of them was when I received as a gift a 14 400 modem that I would use for years. It was my first internet experience somewhere around 1994 and it was nothing like the internet experience of today. Back then the web was just a baby and about to become the new hype. I used my modem to connect to my high-school server which was connected to the internet (via another 14 400 modem of course). They did not have ppp installed (for years unfortunately) so my internet experience was a terminal one. This was also my first contact with Linux (RedHat – back then you could get it for free). So my internet was pine, ftp and most importantly lynx and even gopher. At the end of session it all went down to sz – it was a milestone in the world’s history when I discovered this command. The search engines in that era were the brand new Yahoo, Lycos, Excite, Altavista and a few others. Google would have to wait some more years to be born. The browser of choice was of course Netscape – there was no Internet Explorer, Opera and of course no Firefox or Safari. I was very sad when Internet Explorer came along and ruined everything so I took refuge in Opera which I would use several years and I would probably still use it today if Firefox wouldn’t have such a nice set of extensions.

The 14 400 modem brought another important experience for me: Linux. When I saw it on servers I was connecting to I wanted to bring it home. Those servers ran RedHat by I chose Slackware because it was floppy-based and I did not have to download all the floppies. It took ages to download the necessary floppies and some more ages to make the boot and root floppies properly – back then it wan’t just “pop in the cd and click next”. It all finaly resulted into a wonderful console prompt and the world has never been the same. I became a fan of Linux and then I tried using it on a daily-basis from time to time during the next few years but I couldn’t find all the functionality I needed and which Windows world was gratiously providing. I remember reinstalling Windows 95 (and then Windows 98) every month or even more often. The breakthrough came some 10 years after I have discovered Linux. By then I had already tried several distributions: Slackware, RedHat, Mandrake, Suse, Debian and possibly some more. I had also worked with FreeBSD and Solaris. But the breakthrough came around 2004 with Gentoo – it became my everyday OS at home and I haven’t got back to Windows ever since. In 2008 however I switched to Arch Linux because I didn’t have time for those endless compilations anymore but also because it seemed that somehow Gentoo was loosing its greatness at that moment. Nevertheless I remained a fan of Gentoo and I admire it even today.

It took countelss years before I had my first “broadband” experience at home with a cable modem that provided me a very expensive connection of 32 kbps (and 256 kbps for local traffic). But the internet was already a very different place. In the meanwhile I have learned all by myself several programing languages: Pascal, C, C++, C#, Php, Perl and maybe some others that I don’t remember at the moment. I have also began programing for windows with Delphi, MFC, Visual C and C++ Builder. Later on I began doing web programing with Php, Asp and .Net and I have also entered the DB world with Oracle and MySql. During those years I finished high-school and went to university and so I became a Computer Science Engineer. Since then I have worked in many companies and as a freelancer on countless projects big and small. I began work as a humble programer and later I became a scalability expert although I have never quit programing. I have always been an networking and security enthusiast so I devote much of my time in these areas as well.