Software Development & IT Consulting
In 1982 I graduated from the University of Cape Town in South Africa with a B.Sc (Hons) degree in Computer Science (cum laude). My thesis, which I worked on in collaboration with two other students, was published in the British academic journal Software Practice & Experience in June 1985.
My initial experience was with Univac and IBM mainframes, on which I used COBOL, Fortran, Pascal, BASIC, Adabas/Natural and a smattering of other more obscure languages.
In 1988 I moved into the PC world with DOS, and did application development using dBASE III, Clipper and the DBF filing system. Novell NetWare dominated in the network arena.
In 1989 I started developing a program (called Compu-Sport) to record sports statistics. Initially it supported only Rugby Union, but later I added Cricket (test, one-day and 20-20), Soccer, Formula 1 and Tennis. Over the years I captured the data for the South African national team in the first three sports, as well as every Formula 1 grands prix and every Tennis grand slam tournament. I gave this application and all the data away to anybody who was interested in using it and it is still available for free download, more than 25 years after I first started working on it. The Compu-Sport download page can be found here.
Microsoft Windows arrived in the early 1990's, and with it came graphical user interfaces, client-server applications and SQL databases. C++ and Visual Basic with MS SQL Server or Sybase were the tools of choice in those days.
Just when I thought Java was finally going to knock Microsoft off its lofty perch, the boys from Seattle responded with perhaps their most outstanding product ever - Microsoft .NET and the associated family of development languages, including C#, Visual Basic and C++. ASP.NET replaced the creaking old version of ASP and C# deservedly gained rapid popularity.
These days Microsoft .NET is just as popular as ever, but the open source world has gained a significant foothold as well. MySQL is a very popular (and robust) database platform, Apache web server successfully powers tens of thousands of web sites around the world and PHP is still extremely widely used. It is difficult to say what (or when) the next major shift in the information technology industry will be, but one thing I have learnt in over 30 years of software development is that there will always be another shift - you just have to be ready to respond to it.