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It was in the seventies at age 16 when I first got into contact with a computer. I built the Nascom-1, a computer you had to assemble yourself. It had a 2 kilobyte ROM and 1 KB RAM, of which about 768 bytes were available to store your program and data. My little TV was the monitor and a 40-key keyboard was the input. No storage, mouses didn't exist yet! Writing assembly by hand, translating it into mnemonics by using a book and entering the program in hex . Those were the days!


Studying to become a teacher
A few months into the second year of my study to becoming a math and science teacher, I got in touch with more serious computer equipment and it did not took long before I was spending more time behind the PDP11 terminal than following college. It became apparent that becoming a teacher was not my thing, and after a few months I transferred to a more technical study. This did not work out (amongst others same problem: spending all my time behind a terminal) and I started working as a data typist for a chemical company in 1977. Now I could sit behind a terminal the whole day and make some money too.

My first job as a data typist
There I learned the art of programming COBOL after I talked a technician of Burroughs(nostalgic pictures!) into giving me the COBOL compiler *grins* already in those days copying software was not uncommon. With no manual, no example programs, no book (and the WWW did not exist yet!) I managed to get my first few letters on the console screen (*smiling* 8 lines of 32 characters) by correcting my program based on the compiler errors. Luckily my employer saw the advantages of me becoming a programmer, so he payed for a COBOL course and I started to improve the standard software that was used for the administration.

After about 2 years (I was still mainly the data typist) I had rewritten all the software and added the automatic transfer of delivery orders to the transshipment plant over a 1200 baud datacom line. Before that they were hand-typed telex messages! Now the plant could report back the actual amount and that was fed into the invoicing, very sophisticated for those days.


Programmer
The same technician that got me the compiler also brought me in contact with my next employer. A small softwarehouse, developing COBOL software for Burroughs machines and selling them too. After a period of working for both companies, I worked there full time. In those 15 years I developed administrative systems, salary systems and foreign currency systems. This is also the time that the first 4GL programming languages appeared, the PC came into the world and I wrote my own programming language :-) There is a lot more to say about this period of my career, let me just mention the Tandem non-stop Unix system that played a role again many years later.

Demonstrating non-stop technology
Beautiful machines to demonstrate your software on. Imagine the look on the face of the customer when you demonstrated the software and in the mean time pulling out processor, memory and I/O boards from the machine. It just kept on running! Even pulling disks didn't stopped it. Of course I knew what I could and could not pull ;-) Being a small system integrator, it was a big success that we were able to sell two of those machines to two world famous banks in Holland. And, not many people know, they were both programmed in my programming language! (I can now say this, since both banks don't use the software anymore. The last bank quit using it in ..... 2008).


Consultant
Alas the founder and owner of the company did not agree with me that we needed to migrate our software from the character oriented terminals we used into the graphical world of Windows and OS/2. During that time I invested a lot of private time into learning more about the modern operating systems and it became apparent to me that character based programming was going to become niche. It came to a separation and I applied for a job at 
(Logica)CMG, a consultancy firm where I learned what consultancy really was. I was so proud getting my first consultancy assignment, being a tester of the first version of the Dutch Tax program for private persons. Numerous bugs were found by me and corrected by the developers in a small team, I couldn't have wished for a better start.

It was in 1995 that I first got in contact with JAVA, at that time a new programming language available in beta from Sun. I downloaded it and started to play with it. Made my first applet, saw the big advantage(again, RISL had this too) of write once run anywhere and invested a lot of time into it. I did numerous consultancy jobs based on my JAVA knowledge and it was member of the JAVA special interest group within CMG.

Founder
There it was were I first met my later business partner. We started a firm together doing JAVA consultancy. We were very lucky that our first customer had a big international project and the two of us  could work close together for a long time. The base of our firm was there! We went to JavaONE, the yearly conference in San Francisco and after a few years a third partner  joined. And another few years a  fourth partner joined. Because of different  vision of the future of the company, I left to go solo.


Solo
Again a lucky start, I could continue my contract for the client of that time and got a solid base too. Except for a severe motor cycle accident which made me stay at home for five months, things went smoothly and are still going smoothly today 

RISL
I promised to tell some more about my programming language and the role it played again in recent years. At the end of 2007, the one bank still using the software asked for my support in maintaining their software for another few months after the supplier (and my previous employer) went bankrupt after the dead of the founder and the lack of new customers. I had been giving the bank my support in the years before that via that previous employer, so it was no surprise that they asked me. I acquired the Tandem Puma S4000 from my previous employer and could do both software and hardware maintenance for the bank. Since the maintenance was only for a few months (it eventually lasted for half a year), I can now offer the non-stop machine for sale

As a programming language, or maybe I should say IDE, RISL  was very complete (hey, I wrote it myself!)  and included a screen painter, report painter, (syntax driven) source editor, database repository, debugger, run-time interpreter and various utilities written in the language itself. I called it Reduced Instruction Set Language, RISL(WOW! it is mentioned on all-acronyms.com. Did I do that?!) for short. At that time I had a version for CTOS, Tandem Non-stop Unix, SCO Unix, OS/2 and Ms-dos. Porting a RISL application from one operating system to another was a simple recompile. I even made a RISL to C translator. Improved the executing speed five-fold!  The only known customer still using it today (end of 2008) is my sister for an administration system of the caravan(travel trailer) winter storage she and her husband are running.

RISL contains some very sophisticated statements, the one I am most proud of was made specific for the banking application. After entering a sales contract (which could consist of 10 currencies and 12 banknotes) , the typist had to wait up to 45 seconds before the contract was processed. I created a statement that forked the processing into a background process and the typist could enter the next contract within seconds. The background process communicated with the foreground process, informing it by its progress which was shown to the user by a green or red contract number. Red in case of an error, by pressing a dedicated function key the user could toggle between the foreground and the (up to five) background processes.

The language and IDE were character based, the single reason I didn't continue with its development after the graphics based languages (for example JAVA) became popular. The sources are still on my PC though, and compiling the over 384,000 lines of C code and linking the executable takes about 3 minutes nowadays.....