I started as a graphic design intern in 1989 while I was still in college. After graduation, I began working in a printing shop making $6.25/hr in the same town I grew up in. When asked if I wanted to move to New Orleans, my answer was a resounding "hell yes!" I wasn't exactly setting the world on fire in Western, PA, so why not?
In the mid-90s I started hearing rumblings of this new thing called the World Wide Web that was going to change everything. I was immediately intrigued and I picked up every book I could find on the subject. Keep in mind, you couldn't Google anything, nor could you do any research on Amazon to figure out which book was best on the subject. The words "social" and "media" existed separately, but they had not yet been put together in the way they are now. Basically, you were on your own.
Somewhere around 1996, I managed to glom together a website for a New Orleans institution – Pat O'Briens. We didn't have a readily available list of web hosts back in the early days, so we found some guy who figured out how to get a server patched into the backbone of the internet (I don't have a clue how?). We carried Zip Drives to his location and put them on his server. Voila, we had a website!
A six year stint in Boston
In 1997 I was offered a position at Agfa in Wilmington, MA working in the graphics division. I started out in technical phone support for Windows NT, Linux and Mac which were the platforms for Agfa's raster image processors (RIPs). Between calls, I studied web design and programming hoping that some day I would have the opportunity to join the ever-expanding web world. I built a small intranet for our US graphics division much to chagrin of our internal web development group who saw me as a rogue web developer. But it was this little intranet that got my foot in the door and I eventually became Agfa's first "webmaster" 🤣which is now a very dated term. Becoming the webmaster at Agfa allowed me to attend night classes in programming, database management and more at Boston University Metropolitan College.
Just as I was beginning to feel like I was at the top of my game – like I would retire a rich man before age 40 – the shit hit the fan.
The return to New Orleans, my home
After six years in Boston, I began to ache for New Orleans. I had lived through the best and the worst of the Web – the dot-com bubble had burst and I was ready to get back to a calmer life in a warmer climate. After returning to New Orleans, I worked in various positions which you can check out on my LinkedIn profile.
Still loving web development after all these years!
You'd think that after all of this time I'd be sick of making websites, but it's quite the opposite. Things have definitely not gotten any easier – web development is way more complex today than it was in the mid-90s. However, it's products like Craft CMS that keep me inspired to continue. It's a truly great platform, built by an amazing team led by Brandon Kelly.