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20 Years of Programming (2020)

20 Years of Programming

Jun 14, 2020

I’m not sure of the exact date, but 20 years ago, around now, I started my first professional programming job. It’s weird to think about having done anything for 20 years. That’s as long as all my schooling put together.

That first job was an intership at a 6-person startup in Petaluma where I worked on a web app written in ColdFusion and had to learn SQL from scratch. I commuted 2.5 hours each way, mostly by bus, during which I read a whole lot of books. I got paid a little over minimum wage, though I got a raise after a couple months.

The very first day, I took the bus going the wrong way and 5 minutes later I was on the Golden Gate Bridge heading into SF. I had to find a pay phone and call someone to pick me up.

In Petaluma, the city bus ran once an hour, and if the Golden Gate Transit bus was late getting to Petaluma, I walked 40ish minutes to work rather than wait for the next bus.

I only found out about the internship because my cousin worked there. I don’t know how much that factored into me getting the job, probably at least some.

I learned a lot from that job. I learned that I was capable of keeping up with fulltime programmers. I learned that I could figure out new technologies by reading the manual and playing around. I learned a bit about how not to run a company.

Anyway, 20 years later and I’m still doing it. Despite lots of details being different, the actual writing of the code is pretty much the same as it was back then. The biggest thing that’s changed is I’ve come to do (and value) a lot of things that aren’t just writing code.

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