What got you “hooked”?

Nothing interesting about my first story: I got a boring cubicle job in a large enterprise that needed 12 programmers to do anything, blah, blah, blah. But I did do some good work for a vice president who remembered me when he moved to another company, which leads to my second story, my real story:

He brought me in to his new company to do a consulting job to answer 2 questions, “What do we have to do to get Order Entry, Shop Floor Control, and Standard Costing written and running?” and “How many programmers do I need to hire?”

They had 400 employees, were missing all of these mission critical apps, and had only one programmer. But he was all they ever needed. I worked with him for 3 months and he wrote all of the software needed using tools and techniques none of us had ever seen before.

He did instant analysis and design, wrote disposable apps, did rapid prototyping, stepwise refinement, and extreme programming years before anyone ever heard of these things. He never wrote the same line of code twice, writing standard functions and reusable components. If he knew he needed something twice, he wrote a parameter-driven code generator on the fly and had me collect the parameters for him. He even coded in Boolean algebra and had an engine that converted it into production source code. He threw things into production long before anyone else would, figuring it was easier to just keep reworking them instead of waiting until it was perfect.

He was a one man shop in a $150 million company. He was smart, he worked hard, he loved what he did, but most of all, he didn’t know that “it couldn’t be done”, so he just did it.

Three months watching Dick build stuff, and I was hooked for life. I had to do it, too. And I’ve been doing pretty much the same thing ever since, pausing only long enough to add a few new technologies to my tool box along the way.

Sometimes I wonder what horrible cubicle I’d be wasting away in if I hadn’t met Dick and saw what was really possible.