The first “computer” I programmed in my life was an HP-48 calculator my sister, a civil engineering student, used during her college days. That was in the early 90’s and I didn’t do much more than copy a program from the calculator’s manual. Around that time, I also inherited an old MSX computer from a cousin, which I programmed in similar ways. Whereas that didn’t teach much, it gave me a taste for what would eventually become my profession.
My first real computer was a 486 my family purchased in the mid 90’s. In the beginning, graphic editors, like the then popular Corel Draw, were what attracted me the most. As a 7th grader I started free lancing as a print designer. Doing similar work I was later employed part-time at an offset printing company and subsequently at an advertising agency. In parallel, in high school, my interest for programming started to grow.
My first real programming project was a personal website, dedicated to tennis. Then came a mIRC script/distribution* and, in 1999, my first commercial project, Casa da Dieta’s website. After selling one project I thought I could sell more, so in 2000, my first year in college, I partnered with a classmate and we landed three other projects, one which even included rudimentary content management and e-commerce features. At that time, my stack of choice was L.A.M.P.
* mIRC was very popular at the time. At a time when dial-up Internet in Brazil was extremely expensive, teenagers like me stayed up after midnight to benefit from late night discounts and chatted for hours on end. For not finding the features that I wanted in other scripts/distributions, I wrote my own. Other users liked it too and in a year I managed to attract a decent user base. My mIRC handle, [TrUMaN], stayed with me through adulthood and is part of my primary e-mail address, which I shamefully still use professionally.