Natural Born Coder is brought to you by Graham Smith and the countless people that have made modern technology possible. Born rather conveniently on my own birthday I’ve been programming and tinkering with computers for as long as I can remember. I started on a TI-99/4A before progressing to a BBC-B because it was “educational” (I wanted a ZX Sepctrum like my friends) and I suppose it was educational in a way as I did all my secondary school English course work on it – something that was extremely uncommon at the time.
Later I got my first IBM compatible PC based on a 386DX-40 which was a fantastic machine and just about fast enough to play Doom. I took a bit of a break from programming at this point as other things were seemingly more important to a young man. At this point due to a failure of imagination I went off to university to study chemistry. I enjoyed chemistry and was good at it and I’m sure if I’d stuck with it I’d have made a great chemist. Computers were my passion though so a year after graduating I enrolled in a computing masters course and left chemistry behind forever. As luck would have it it transpired that I was none to shabby at computing either.
In 2000 I got my first programming job with a company that turned your digital photos into to real world photos. I also set up my first website, crazysquirrel.com, which was basically like this one but running on my own custom written software. After a couple of years writing web applications I had the crazy idea that I wanted to get a PhD in computer science so I found myself a job as a research assistant at Southampton University and knuckled down to do some study. I got a few papers out before I realized I wasn’t actually interested in what I was supposed to be studying so I headed off for pastures new and founded my first on-line business selling aquarium supplies.
Turns out that having no experience of running a business, marketing, sales, supply chain or pretty much anything else is quite an impediment to being wildly successful. The biggest problem though was that I was more interested in writing the software that ran my website than I was running the business – I wrote an absolutely brilliant pricing engine that was never getting used. After twelve months earning less than minimum wage I decided to go back to professional programming this time at a company producing supply chain planning software.
I’m either very lucky with my choice of employer or very unlucky as two years after starting the owner of the business decided to shut up shop due to the impending, world shattering, financial crises. As luck would have it he was willing to sell the business as a going concern so myself and a couple of colleagues bought it and for the last seven and a half years I’ve been heading up the technical side of things which keeps me very busy.
That first website I set up around 2000 got sold a few years ago for enough money to pay for a fantastic wedding to my very patient wife with a bit left over. Since then I’ve found myself being called Dad a lot and with additional entertainment and education duties. In those five minutes a month I get as free time I like to get down into the workshop and butcher some wood making all manner of bits of furniture for around the house. Who knows what the future will hold…