My programming biography

Sean Barrett, 2016

Everyone has a different trajectory for how they become a professional programmer. Because it's always different for different people (and because it mostly happened in a different world many years ago), I don't think my path is particularly useful guidance for people who want to become programmers, but since I get asked, and just to provide a single data point about one way it can happen (and how privilege matters), here's mine.

Professional Experience

Ages Job Language Format How
17 Modifying my high school's library program, which tracked checkouts BASIC unpaid part time Got the job by recommendation of comp science teacher to librarian
20-21 Fixing & improving a custom job/billing program for a print shop Pascal hourly, part time Print shop my father used, he was "friends" with owner
23 Automatic analysis of complexity for programs C++ hourly, part time One of my computer science professors presumably couldn't get a grad student to do it for "free"
25-27 Implementing parts of PostScript C++ salaried Ran an online MUD with some guys who got hired there then recommended me. Remote trial was implementing strokepath (turn lines & curves into wide line by generating needed polygons)
27-33 Computer game graphics technology for respected game developer. Many varied tasks, peaking with this C++ salaried Previously participated in a Usenet weird-writing group w/ an employee of same company, contacted him for info about game industry, was invited to apply
35 Computer game graphics technology for a different respected game developer. Precomputed-PVS for engine that didn't have one already. (Unused?) C++ hourly, part time Contacted by producer, who knew me from previous company
38-39 Computer game graphics technology. Rewrite of Genesis3D engine for Japanese pachinko market C hourly, full time Friend of a friend recommended me
40 Audio decompressor. stb_vorbis C fixed fee Acquaintance who I'd had technical conversations with for a decade
41-present Game UI middleware. Reimplemented most of Flash Player. C salaried Hired by same as previous.

Some of the things stated above as facts are my best guesses as I don't always remember the exact details, and it's just less readable with uncertainty-disclaimers embedded.

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