I started IT during the time of mainframes. I took a short break when we had my oldest son over 30 years ago and proceeded to return to a workforce for a short time to work with water resources and develop water flow models with Visual Basic. The internet wasn’t really a thing yet, but email was available. At my next position with the internet and websites I moved on to developing sites (still with water resources). Drupal and Moodle were popular, but writing sites from scratch in PHP was still a thing. I remember developing coding sites for Combined Sewer Overflow reporting and managing academic conference paper submissions.
I took another break while our youngest son was starting school. As I returned to the workforce this time (I assume my final return to the workforce) I’m struck by how far we’ve come. Now I’m working to learn things like React, and taking on a site that was written in Symfony. To me Symfony seems more complicated to learn that when I made the leap from VB to PHP. Now there are new tools like Docker and Github. I still remember the days of versioning using Panvalet! As I work to figure out all the new libraries and tools that are out there, I’ve also made the switch from water resources to education. I’m still in an academic environment with a group that focuses on research, but it does make me wonder how things would have went differently if I hadn’t taken breaks for each of my children. I’m sure keeping up with new technologies would have been much simpler as opposed to feeling like IT took a quantum leap during each of my ‘breaks’.
Even on breaks I was still doing small projects for not for profits, yet it was easy to pick and choose things in areas I was familiar with. There is a lot of call for help fixing things that are rooted in the past. Companies find that they can’t hire someone flexible in old languages/tools and willing to learn new technology at the same time. Some of my breaks included updating technology from one language to another. The world of information technology and web development has undergone a remarkable transformation since the days of mainframes and DOS. For those of us who began our IT journey during these early days, the changes have been nothing short of revolutionary.
The Mainframe Era: The Dawn of Computing
My story begins in the era of mainframes, massive computers that often occupied entire…