I began my web development journey way back in 1996, during the days of Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer 2. It still makes me shudder to think about how primitive everything was.
I was living in Alaska at the time, slinging fish in a salmon cannery during the summers. I was more than ready for a career change. My plan was to move down to the San Francisco Bay Area, the hotbed of the burgeoning dotcom scene.
I did some interning and took classes at the SF State College of Extended Learning. I had the dream of living on a boat in the bay, so I also worked full time at a yacht brokerage in Alameda to pay the bills. It was here that I met the Arethusa, who was to be my home and creative outlet for the next nineteen years. Loved that girl.
I landed my first paying web job at a startup in San Francisco in ’97. I worked there for about a year learning the ropes before moving on to a corporate contract gig at Autodesk. They’re one of the biggest software companies in the world, and this was a new and exciting experience for me. The money was pretty cool too.
It was at Autodesk that I started working with Vignette StoryServer. StoryServer was an industrial strength content management system first developed for CNET to manage their publishing. Vignette is no longer around, but they developed one of the earliest dynamic publishing platforms.
Storyserver was quite expensive, and geared towards large organizations. I worked as a Vignette consultant for both Sybase and TechTV for several years after AutoDesk. But I’m not really a 9 to 5 kind of guy, so this was not my cup of tea.
Luckily, it was about this time that WordPress came onto the scene, and the rest is history. I think the web should lower barriers for small businesses and non-profits. Working for huge corporations, while interesting work and good money, did not fit the bill.
I became a WordPress aficionado back in 2005, and have used it for most everything I’ve built since then. It’s not the best solution for everybody. But if you’re looking for a free platform with the capability to do pretty much anything a website can do, it’s a great choice.