My name is Mark Schoenberg and I am president and general manager of Emmes Technologies. Emmes Technologies is a non-profit organization. It wasn't planned that way, it just happened.
My experience as a programmer started when, as a college freshman, I took a course called "Introduction to Programming", or something like that. I still remember going up to the window of the room that housed the main-frame computer and handing in my stack of "IBM cards" on which my FORTRAN program had been punched, one instruction per card. In a day or two, I had to return to the window to collect a ream of fan-fold paper on which the output of my program had been printed.
The above training qualified me to work as a heavily-supervised programmer for an insurance company the following summer writing programs for simple accounting chores. My first real experience as a programmer came the following summer when some enterprising fellow persuaded the Endicott-Johnson Shoe Company he would bring in a team of six top-flight programmers to help them start a data-processing division. The enterprising fellow than proceeded to collect random college students and billed Endicott-Johnson at twice the rate he was paying the "programmers". About half of us produced useful work and the rest nothing, so I suspect the deal was a wash.
When I finished my schooling and got a real job, as a scientist specializing in muscle physiology, my first experience with computers was using a teletype machine rescued from Surplus in order to connect to a company that provided an interface, via a telephone connection, to their computers. Sort of the precurser to todays ISPs. I remember having to modify something called a "20-milliamp loop", whatever that meant, to get the teletype to work.
My next big jump in computer/programming know-how came about by accident. My superviser at the big federal research institute I worked at found out that he could not use the $50,000 Unix workstation he had ordered, but he found out only after the calender-determined deadline for spending the money on something else had passed. Remembering the second rule of working for the Federal government, which was to never return any money your division had been allocated, he offered the workstation to me. I therefore went from using a used teletype machine that had been retrieved from Surplus, to having a $50,000 stand-alone computer all my own, but I had to learn Unix and C programming.
When I retired from the Federal government, I thought I might write Windows software and market it, and so I became interested in both Cygwin and Mingw32, which allow you to develop Windows applications in a Unix-like environment on a pc. When I realized I was not going to make any money marketing Windows software, I turned my software delopment into a hobby and continued with developing my own software for Windows.
At about the same time I realized I was not going to make money marketing Windows software, Mingw decided to change the packaging of their software and went from something simple and easy to use, to something considerably more complicated. A combination of both these events, plus a general dislike of proprietary software, persuaded me there was no real reason to stick to Windows programming, or even the Windows Operating System, and I became interested in trying out Linux. My experience with linux is here.