- I got my first professional programming job (I was 15 years old) at Comspec in Toronto where, among other things, I did 6502 assembly language programming for a variety of devices. Some fun ones were the Microshare printer and drive sharing device — this was before LANs — and an interface for a scale so sensitive you could use it to measure the mass transfered from pencil to paper writing your name.
- I studied at the University of Waterloo where among other things I was a president of the Computer Science Club (and it was not even a total geekfest those years). I also worked with the Symbolic Computation Group which was loads of fun. The last thing I did at UW was to rewrite the Maple pretty-printer so it did better formatting and labelling. I expect their current one still has bits of my code in it.
- While at UW I was a co-op student and I did work-terms (internships) at The Ontario Science Centre. It turns out that, IMHO, “OSC” is one of the most fun places to work in the entire universe. You just don’t know what might happen next — I even got to meet Sophia Loren when she visited though she probably doesn’t remember me. 🙂
- While I was at OSC we did a show on Chaos and there was great interest in Fractals, and in particular The Mandelbrot Set. I was studying Complex Analysis at the time and I used what I knew to come up with a faster way to render the Mandelbrot set. I shared the technique and a partial proof of correctness for the underlying theory with Rollo Silver who was then publishing Amygdala — which sent subcribers 35mm slides of cool mandelbrot renders — Rollo finished the proof and published it. Meanwhile A.K. Dewdney also got a demonstration and in 1988 he mentioned the technique in Scientific American’s Computer Recreations column — he called it “Mariani’s Algorithm” but it’s more popularly known as the Mariani/Silver Algorithm. That’s my claim to fame 🙂
- In 1988 I joined Microsoft and within a few days I met Steve Ballmer. The way I met Steve was that I crashed a party he was throwing for his summer interns — he was running the Systems division at the time. More specifically, I sat down next to someone who I didn’t know and, being the gregarious guy I am, proceeded to tell him I wasn’t even supposed to be here but my friends made me come and I just started a few days ago and hi my name is Rico. He said, “Hi, I’m Steve.” Ya. That Steve. Fortunately for me he saw the humor in it. But don’t try this at home kiddies 🙂
I’m not tagging anyone else because otherwise this whole pyramid tag thing will self implode but feel free to write your five things if you haven’t already and blame me for motivating you.