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In the beginning...
It was 1984 when I was 13 years old and my parents spent a little fortune in order to buy me a nice C64. It was so expensive that they couldn't afford the costs of the disk-drive unit: it was as expensive as the whole C64! With the C64 I spent lot of time (...very lot of time) playing with Pac-Man, Donkey-Kong, Jupiter-Jumper and the like. I also spent some time (...little time, unfortunatly), programming in BASIC and trying to understand the magicness of the PEEK and POKE command needed to program the sound and the graphic chipset. It was at that time that I discovered the FOR-NEXT cicle needed to clean the graphic memory of the C64; a cicle that took more or less 40/50 seconds to be executed in BASIC. I early got so tired to wait so long every time I want to draw something on the screen that as soon as I discovered the assembler, I tried the port of the cleaning cicle in the 6502 assembler. Wonderful! No more that 1 second was enough to clean the whole screen but.... assembler, as soon as such speed, showed also an incredibly complex programming language: no variable; no easy cicle; no string support.... nothing! That's why I quickly got back to BASIC...

Sometime later....
around 1987, in order to start a new business, my parents were going to buy the bleeding-edge of the computing power for that time: a wonderful 80286 plently of RAM (640KB... yes, KILObyte and _NOT_ MB!) and disk-space (40MB...yes, MEGAbyte... and not Gigabyte). Luckily enough, it was so expensive and so difficult to have that our supplier were unable to sell it to us and... hence, we were able to buy a previous generation 8088 machine with only 512K RAM and 20 MB HD. We spent for such a machine more or less the equivalent of today 4.000 euro. 4.000 euro...fifteen years ago...for an 8086 :-(... Amazing!
The 8088 were running a DBIII application. DBIII was what we would call today a relational DBMS but that did not support SQL [...well, SQL did not exist in the 1987 ;-)]
Anyway, DBIII was really a smart DBMS: it was very quick using proper indexes and, also, it supported a procedural language by which it was possible to build simple procedure to handle input from keyboard, searching data and printing reports.
While spending time on DBIII, I got some experience with a little local software house. Basically I was involved in writing some little application using Quick Basic and... thanks to this, after a couple of years, I was able to get in return a wonderful new PC based on the 80386 processor. Wow!

At University...
I started studying Computing Science at Univerisity of L'Aquila in 1990. It was at that time that, thanks to one of my best friend, Luigi, I discovered Clipper: something that started as a compiler for DBIII applications but that quickly became a superset, a large superset of DBIII.
At univerisity I also had some experience with other programming languages (C, Pascal, Fortran) and also other operating systems (SunOS, IBM AIX, Macintosh).
Actually, I previously had some contact with Apple Macintosh thanks to my brother, Dario, who were working (...and is still working) for a big research center that, at that time, largely used Macintosh (Mac Plus, Mac II, and the like). It was on one of this Macintosh that I saw the game "The Fool's Errand" that I'm still finding today be run on a today's PC (BTW: if you know where I can get it, please let me know!)
Getting back to University, the most important things to say related to Computer Science are not so good:

  1. Even with a degree on routing topics, I left university without having even a basic knowledge of TCP/IP networking, internet routing and the like;
  2. Even if I spent at University the timeframe 1990-1995, I heard no words about Free Software; no words about "Linux" and... no words about "Linux kernel". Only in 2000 I really discovered that 1995 registered the Torvalds-Tanembaun saga about microkernel vs. monolithic kernel. And funny enough, at that time, I was just studying operating system :-(

But even if with this two concerns, I'm absolutly sure that university gave me a strong open and technical-oriented mind. I think that only thanks to university backgroud, my further investigation withing internet technologies were possible.

The rest...
...is explained in the CV ;-)

 

 

 

 

"..science is, after all, an Open Source enterprise..."
In the introduction of OpenSources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution


(C) 2003 by Damiano Verzulli
damiano@verzulli.it
Last Modified:
June, 21th 2003