A Trip Down Memory Lane

TL;DR

Geek. Computer Expert.

Computer Bug Bites

Processing enrolment forms on a THEOS mainframe terminal.

My interest in computer programming (and computers in general) began when I was only seventeen, after I read a college ad on a Sunday newspaper for a computer beginners summer class called “Computer Bytes” – an introduction to computers and BASIC programming language. I relentlessly begged my father to enrol me. I was hooked ever since. Through self-study, I wrote my first machine language program a year later — Yes, the “MOV AX,BX” stuff — and my first inventory system for a local printing press using GWBASIC and flat files as “database.” The summer class instructor, who happened to be the Dean of the College of Commerce and Computer Science Department at that time, became my computer mentor for many years.

Thirst For Knowledge

Group photo with the EDP working student staff before opening hours in my university years.

Throughout my junior and senior high school years, I frequented the school’s computer laboratory (since I didn’t get a real computer until I was senior in college — an IBM PC-XT. In high school, my dad only bought the Sony MSX — good for games not for programming). I’d go there immediately after class and stayed until closing. I didn’t get in trouble at home because they knew I was learning. After a while, the faculty and laboratory assistants all knew me (because I was like a fly that never left kitchen), that they’d sometimes leave early and left me the keys to close the lab after class. Even if the laboratory was overbooked, the teachers would reserve a seat for me, usually the computer reserved for teachers. So I’d be in the front row doing my thing while they’re teaching. One time, the teacher was absent but the students were told to work on their projects — they did not. The college students where very noisy, which made it hard to concentrate on my programming. So I walked up to the platform and told everyone their professor left me a quiz for them to take. I knew their subject very well, so I wrote ten fair questions on the whiteboard. The room was very quiet after that. At the end of the class I collected their papers, I took it home and checked it. Not all of them passed, and many struggled. By the time I finished high school, I wrote half a dozen unpublished books on programming, DOS utilities and computer introduction — which was like a brain dump. Bill Gates and Peter Norton became my heroes. By the time I pursued my degree in Computer Science, I already knew all the computer subjects in my curriculum very well. I became a consistent Dean’s Lister until I graduated. (I even nailed my four typing (an important skill in programming to have) classes, where many of our exams used blindfolds while using the typewriter and business calculator (numeric keypad). I wanted to type properly after watching my dad and professors type so fast with grace, without even looking at the keyboard!)

First Computer Gig

In my junior years in college (from summer of 1989 to 1990), I joined my school’s official student publication called “The Word” as a Staff Artist, where I worked designing the magazine’s cover, creating article illustrations and sketches, and calligraphy lettering. I was also picked as part of the team who worked on the magazine layout at the printing press ( LeCel Printers ) — where we used stencils and negatives to layout all the pages that goes into the press. I became good friends with the printing press’ owner at that time, Andy, who was a computer enthusiast. He later learned about my programming skills and hired me to develop a press inventory system and a graphics program to “simulate storm movements” — basically a moving sphere following randomized direction using scientific equations — both written using the BASICA programming language. It was my first paid job as a computer programmer.

First Mainframe Gig

In 1991, during my undergraduate years at the University of San Jose, I worked for my university’s Computer Science department as a working scholar. I also had the opportunity to work part-time at the university’s Electronic Data Processing Department (EDP) department as an enrollment processor, working on IBC THEOS mainframe system (running THEOS BASIC school information system). I continued working for the EDP department for a year and a half after graduation, even after I started of my professional career. During my senior years, I also had a short stint as a C/C++ programmer and instructor at a computer center called Data Machines – my very first paid computer gig outside the academic arena. I graduated with special distinction as one of the “Seven Most Outstanding Graduate of the College of Commerce” (the department Computer Science was under).

Career Kickoff

ACT Registrar and EDP staff, and two stray faculty members.

After finishing my Baccalaureate degree in Computer Science, I pursued a five-year degree course in Computer Engineering at the University of San Carlos. I landed a part-time job at a computer training and software development center near the campus called Data Machines as a C++ instructor and programmer. I left the job after a few months after being recruited by the president of a technology college to teach Computer Science subjects full-time. In less than six months, I was appointed EDP In-Chief on top of being a faculty member.

As for the rest of the story, you’ll have to ask my for my comprehensive resume.