Jerry Spurbeck is the author of the following blogs.

I’m interested in many things, but I’ve been focusing on client-side web development for over 10 years, the last 7 of which were done as a full-time “hobby”. I’ve enjoyed my career in software development, which lasted 28 years.I spent the first 13.5 years as a full time Marine, and while I did those things that Marines do, I was also trained to be a computer programmer (USMC MOS 4063). Using the COBOL programming language with JCL on a brand new IBM 360 mod 65. Yes, we we’re using keypunch cards. This was in 1979. By 1981, we brought in the highly acclaimed IBM Series I “communications” platform, which was in reality a new ‘mid-range’ computer. PC’s were starting to show up at trade shows, and Apple was intriguing all of us. Getting these ScanData Corp. keypad/punch machines connected to the Series-1 and then auto-batch transactions to the IBM 360 was my job, as well as maintaining logistics and maintenance systems.Then, because of my series one mid-range experience, I was transferred to IMEF where I worked solely on the deployable Series 1 “Green-machine”, a hardened and compressed version of the mid-range. 256Kb of memory, dual 8 1/2″ floppy disks, keyboard, paper-tape reader/writer (for shipboard use), no “windows”, no speakers, no USB, no network card, no wifi. Heck, the keyboard wasn’t even ergonomic. The only important aspect was that is was “Marine-proof”.

Then, after a 3 year tour as a Marine Recruiter in Spokane, Washington, and a year-long pump overseas (Japan and South Korea, primarily), I was stationed at the Marine Corps Finance Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Our team of 3 developed and deployed the first “multi-user” database application within any DoD component. It was quite the rage. Obtained the coveted “software engineer” (MOS 4066) status. Had folks travelling in from all over the world for conferences. Got to take a ‘world-wide’ tour to install and train. That was what I call “travel and adventure”.

Then, Saddam got “out of hand” and invaded Kuwait, and the US Marine Reserves had never deployed with the information assets it had at it’s disposal. The US Marine Reserve Component were very adept at using their PC’s for ‘back-office’ applications, but never had a need for battlefield applications. I got transferred to the Marine Reserve HQ and immediately proceeded to take pending designs and turn them into PC-based applications. I was to prototype in Foxpro, and convert to Ada for deployment. Well, as it turned out, the Foxpro applications did just fine, and in time too, as the ground war lasted only 96 hours. Returning from USMCR-Forward, I opted to leave the Marines for a “civilian” Army Corps of Engineer’s job.

Within six months of my arrival at USACE Information Technology Lab, I ended up becoming one of the on-site task leaders, reporting for at least 12 different projects. Simulateneously developing (now get this, it may be confusing) the Research and Development Management Information System (RDMIS), to track R&D, using a new R&D programming methodologies. Well, once that project was completed, USACE wanted me in DC to help merge all the service’s R&D projects. Merging heterogeous databases, thanks a lot. Had to get that done quick and then create the ‘big book’ for Congress to review. Now “they” want me up there permanently. Moved to Joppatowne, just outside Baltimore. Kept an office at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, and commuted to DC three times a week, on average. Seemed like I was the only one capable of talking about merging disparate systems while creating a corporate information system. Part of this job required me to travel to other labs. I was merging some databases at the Civil Engineering Research Lab (CERL, co-located at University of Illinois Champagne-Urbana) when I was drafted to participate in a review of another of our department-funded projects. The product was introduced as “Mosaic”, and it was presented by non-other than Mark Andresson, future founder of Netscape.

No regrets. I made my move, finally, away from Federal Service, and to the private sector. Worked as a programmer/analyst at a few companies in Southern California, then in Texas. Once in Austin, I got the bug to “reengineer myself” from a database designer to a web architect. I figured, if I used the best software engineering practices learned throughout my career, and applied them to a stanard (web) communications model, I should be able to produce a tool that both I and others can use for the benefit of mankind, as it relates to bandwidth and energy consumption, which go hand-in-hand.


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