Sunday, June 3, 2007

My First Programming Job

As well as I can remember (this would have been 1981) I met Patrick A. Alessi when I was 14 years old at NEECO. He was there purchasing an Apple II+ and an Epson MX-100 printer, and he told the sales guy there he needed a programmer to work on some business software. They pointed across the store at me. He told me later that he said, "Who, him? He's just a kid!" They introduced us to each other.

Turns out I knew his son Michael from playing kickball at the park down the street. Mr. Alessi lived a mere 4 blocks away from me, which was the perfect distance. So I began visiting his place. As first we just played pool and experimented with his new Apple II+, and Mr. Alessi made no apologies about sharing his political opinions while smoking different kinds of pipe tobacco.

Since my friend Richard had an Apple II computer I got some games from him, and I made a joystick for the computer out of parts I bought at Radio Shack. I reused the case from an RC car's remote control. I cut out the steering wheel and replaced it with a dual-potentiometer joystick. It was ugly, but I saved some money. ;-)

Mr. Alessi was interested in creating some trend following inventory management software, and he talked a lot about this. Eventually we would begin to write this software, and do a lot of other things as well. This was not going to make me much money in the short run, but I couldn't have asked for a better opportunity to learn.

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