Before my first computer arrived

My childhood was quite ordinary. I was an enthusiastic lego engineer and later as well an enthusiastic model railway fan.
With 12 or 13 I stopped my old hobbies very abruptly. In the following two years I was regularly irritated about what to do with my time. The chances to grow up as a frustrated teenager were high.

The Beginning

ZX81
In 1983, shortly before my 15th birthday, my mother asked me about a gift. A few weeks before I saw an add for a little homecomputer in a magazin. It was a Sinclair ZX81, sold for 149,- DM (back then about 100$) at VOBIS, which became one of the biggest computer sellers in germany a few years later.
With this little computer, an old b/w TV set and my tape recorder as storage medium I learned quickly to write first programs in BASIC.
Hobby Computer 11/1983 Cover
Additionally, I started reading computer magazines, typed in listings and learned from the code of others.
My visits on the outside of my room reduced to school and the computer departments of the big department stores. There I met like-minded persons and made first steps on other homecomputers. I became a computer kid.

With only 1 KB RAM, the ZX81 turned out to be too small for my ideas. The aquired RAM extension to 16 KB never worked reliably. My thoughts went in circles around the question whether I should switch to a Commodore VC20, the ZX81 successor Sinclair Spectrum or to the „big“ Commodore C64.

C64
End of 1983 the Commodore C64 arrived. I was happy and wrote the programs I couldn't write on the ZX81. Futher steps followed in 6502 assembler.

The Global Village

s21d Akkustikkopller
Also in 1983 the movie Wargames (USA 1983) came in the german movie theaters. At that time I already had heard about computer hackers but this movie showed me how computers can talk to another about the telephone by using an acoustic coupler.
I started reading everything about acoustic couplers, modems in general, bulletin board systems and Datex-P, the german X.25 network. The desire for such a device became intolerable. In late 1984 acoustic couplers became affordable in germany. I bought a Dataphon s21d and the serial extension for the C64 userport.
Chaosknoten
A short time later I joined the circle of the "Leitstelle 511" in Hannover of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) from Hamburg. At that time I practically experienced the meaning of the idea of the "global village" and made contact with systems like RSX11, VMS, UNIX and TOPS-10. I also met a lot of very interesting, unusal and very skilled people during that time. I was 16 years old and some of this contacts evolved to real friendships which continue till today.
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A special friendship with Karl Koch ended very abruptly in mid 1989 when Karl was found burned to death. His story as a so called "KGB-Hacker" was filmed for a movie in 1997/98 and played very successfully in the german movie theaters. You can find more information about Karl Koch here (german only).

Commerce

In 1987 I replaced the C64 with a CP/M+ system. After some publications of BASIC programs in a computer magazin and some experiences with dBase II and 8080 assembler it was clear to me that the next system had to be a IBM PC compatible system.

I did my first commercial programming job on a newly acquired IBM AT compatible system (Intel/286, 1 MB RAM, Hercules Graphics, 20 MB Hd) in 1988 for a little but fast-growing software company in Hannover. I used dBase III/III+, CLIPPER '86/S'87 and Turbo Pascal. Since that time I permanently evolved my knowledge in computers, operating systems and programming and I'm still working on software projects.

Unix

At the end of 1988 I installed my first UNIX-like operating system. It was a Xenix/286 on which I started my private UNIX crash course. Some other people in Hannover started nearly at the same time with UNIX and it didn't took long until we joined and met regularly. Together, we explored themes like C under UNIX, curses, uucp, bnews, usenet maps, smail, cnews, emacs, X (at that time X11R3) an so on.
At the beginning of 1989 my Xenix machine was part of the german SubNet (.sub.org). the machine had e-mail and UseNet connectivity via uucp (UNIX to UNIX copy, via a 1200 bps „Lightspeed“ modem).
It was also the Xenix machine on which I first experienced the PROGRESS 4GL & RDBMS. A few years later, at the beginning of the 90's, I worked some years in commercial projects with this database and 4GL system.

Linux Logo
My passion for UNIX went on from 386/ix 1.0.6 (Interactive Unix) to Interactive Unix 3.0, then to SunOS 4.1.1 and from there to Linux 1.2.13 - 2.4.x and finally to Mac OS X. For many years my home UNIX polled e-mail and UseNet news via modem/uucp, ISDN/uucp and now via high speed DSL/direct IP. What an evolution from 300 bps to multi MBit!

1998 till today

OpenVMS
For fun and education I acquired a VAXstation 3100 with OpenVMS in 1998. With this machine I continued my learnings on VMS which started in the middle of the 80's (at that time VAX/VMS 4.x) and then paused for serveral years. In the beginning of 2002 I added a little DEC AlphaStation to my collection and installed the OpenVMS 7.2 hobbyist license on it. This machine still has its place below my desk but nowadays I prefer the simh VAX emulator on my Mac.

Do I need to say anything on Windows? Yes. I did a lot of programming with Microsoft Windows, C++/MFC, C and Visual Basic from 1995 to 1998 and I have to admit, I liked it.

Java Logo
Java attracted my attention in 1997. I loved the idea of a newly designed OO language and the multi platform approach. My first co-work in a big commercial java software project was in early 1998. Since then, projects and customers changed multiple times but I’m still doing Java programming on a daily basis.

Pasted Graphic 2
I bought my first Mac in 2006 and we became friends very fast. The VAX simulator simh works like a charm on Mac OS X, Java development on Mac OS X is great, too. After this very positive switching experience I bought myself a MacBook Air as an ultra mobile development device. After now more than one year of daily heavy use I can to say: It’s a really great device and the best purchase in years.

When the iPhone 3G came to germany in mid 2008 I bought one, registered as an iPhone developer and started coding iPhone Apps in Objective C. iPhone programming is great fun and reminds me of the early days in which a single person could create complete programs for production use. This is completely different from my daily Java project work with big development teams, project leaders, software architects, business analysts, DB admins, operations managers, change managers, multi month project plans and so forth.