I recently realized that I haven’t told this story to anyone close to me. Not even my wife knew. That’s why when I tell people who have known me for years, they are blown away by this story and I thought I would share it with you.
About 13 years ago I had some time on my hands and I needed to find a job that I would like and make lot of money doing. I needed a trade if you will. I had access to a library and I would get the paper and I would read the classifieds each day and analyze the ads for a job that I thought would be the right fit. At that time the dotCom industry was booming and the largest section of the classifieds was related to IT and specifically the Internet. So I started looking at those ads and determining what the number one skill was that they wanted. That skill was to be able to write HTML code.
I looked in the library for a book on HTML and because of the location of this library it wasn’t really a place that would have books on this subject. The library had a new librarian who wanted to introduce inter-library loan. I was the first person to start using it. They had these big indexes of books that had been published recently (We didn’t have access to the Internet) and so I went through these indexes and looked for books about HTML. I found one called HTML for Dummies and I requested it.
The book came in the mail and I quickly started to teach myself HTML.
I had been fascinated with computers since I started using them in 1985. I lived in Germany and our school had funding from the Department of Defense. So we had a computer lab furnished with Apples. I think back on how funny it was that they had the new Macintosh computer and how it was this idol that no one touched.
In middle school, I wanted to get into the computer class so I signed up for keyboarding because that’s what class I thought it was. I ended up learning how to use a typewriter for a whole year… Argh. The next year I figured it out and was learning some BASIC computer languages. I learned right away that you could do more than the stupid little things they had us doing. I wanted to learn how to write a program to password protect something. So while everyone else was playing Carmen San Diego, I figured out how to write this code and execute it. (Also, without the Internet.)
In high school, in my combined Geometry honors class, we got to participate in a Pilot program funded by Apple once again. They had a fancy new computer lab and our class was broken up into teams. Each team was to take a chapter of the textbook and create a learning tutorial of the chapter. I don’t know what model these computer were, but I marveled at the fact that these things only took one minute to start up and be functional. We used a program called Hyperstudio and we had to create an awesome user interface.
My team was very creative. I remember one member was Daniel Duff who was this art wizard. I don’t remember who the other member was. So we built this thing, and while everyone else was just doing the bare minimum to make it through we created a multimedia experience with music, pictures, and colors. The teachers were so impressed they sent the guidance counselors and principal to check it out. I remember them telling me that they knew of people that were giving away big money in California to people who could do things like this.
So here I was with my HTML for Dummies book in hand with only two weeks to borrow it. I had to teach myself HTML and I did. About that same time I got a brochure in the mail for a place that I wanted to go live at and I designed my first website around that brochure. I gained access to a computer with Notepad on it and made my first website, without access to the Internet. Without any help because no one where I was at knew what websites were or how they worked.
I ended up moving to that place and I was ready to get a job and right when I did, the dotCom bubble burst and there were no jobs in that industry. I ended up working in the manufacturing plants in the industrial parks where I met my beautiful wife. I learned more about processes and procedures than anyone in the Internet industry would care to learn. And finally four years later I went back to school to learn more than just HTML and shortly after that I made my jump into the industry.