How ColdFusion Revolutionized My Life
I hope these postings won't be too much like home movies; boring to all but a select one! As I have been using CF since version 1.54 and was not by any means a computer science major; I am hoping that I have some unique and humble insights which might help someone or at least amuse a few.
My background is not computing, I was born and grew up in Northern England. I eventually ended up, in what the Beatles called "The Motor Trade"; I was in parts and in many ways I still am ;o). In 1981 I got fascinated in the release of the Sinclair ZX81 I small handheld computer with an incredible 1KB of storage and a clock speed of 3.25 MHz. I used to mess around with creating things in Basic and as a note point Clive Sinclair became very rich and Sir Clive Sinclair to boot. I went though several other systems, Dragon, Commodore, BBC etc. Luckily, as the saying goes "I did not leave my day job!".
By a series of coincidences I ended up doing some sales consulting for a division of Cummins Engine company here in the US and through that became aware of the large excess engine parts inventories that existed here in the USA. So being something of an entrepreneur I smelled an opportunity so brought together my nascent but burgeoning interest in computing (by now I had graduated to an actual PC) with my knowledge of equipment parts. I started a small company called Power Bank International and began to fill a database with excess parts and equipment. By this time it was 1993 and I was living partly in the USA and partly in Europe.
As I was not rich by any stretch of the imagination, I could not afford dBase so Microsoft came to my rescue and I decided to use MS Access 1.0 for my database engine of choice. I think that was my first wise choice, this was before SQL Server of course. So I started using Access and an internal fax card, a Frecom Fax96 card to be precise. At the time this was incredible to me and I started faxing of lists of excess inventory to a list of fax numbers around the USA. It was not long before I hit a ceiling with this method as the lists got longer and longer.
I am sorry if this is boring btw, you probably stopped reading before you got this far in any case ;o).
So I started looking around, this was 1994-1995 time and I saw that bulletin boards might afford me a way to make my Access based lists available, on line. In this search I came across what turned out to be a invaluable magazine, Boardwatch. As an historical point, this morphed into the first major publication for ISP's. So through this circuitous path I came across a product called TBBS BreadBoard, there is a reference to it here about two thirds down. For many reasons, money being one, I did not pursue this course; another wise but lucky choice.
Then one day reading an article by Graham Nash (of Hollies and Crosby Stills, Nash and Young fame) I came across this term "CyberSpace". Being technologically curious I started digging and fell into a thing called the WorldWide Web. I had already toyed a little with Archie and Gopher. Once again money reared it's ugly head or rather it did not. I found I would need to buy a Unix Server to get my hands on a web server. I had a friend who moved to Colorado Springs and had attended the ONE BBSCON convention in Colorado Springs which he enjoyed. This prompted both of us to attend the ISP CON (successor to BBSCON) in San Francisco in 1996. Whilst trolling around we found what was the first commercial web server product for Microsoft Windows, O'Reilley Website and we gleefully bought a copy. This was a long time before IIS came along btw.
I was dispatched to get this up and running on a 80386 system where we installed Windows NT 3.51. There were a few trial products shipped with O'Reilley Website, one of which was this "thingie" with such a cool name; ColdFusion. Shortly afterwards I was somehow talking with a senior IT person at Rockwell in Downey CA. I mentioned my search for a product that would allow access to a database remotely either via a BBS or preferably via my new toy, a web server. He mentioned that they (Rockwell) had started using something called ColdFusion and that rang a bell, then I recalled a trial was shipped with O'Reilley web site. So there it was, my circuitous introduction to ColdFusion and what an event that was. We bought a copy of CF for, I think, $275.00 and I created my first ColdFusion 1.54 site in glorious dbml and that became the largest excess engine inventory site on the web. I called it Power Bank International but sadly pbi.com was already taken by Pacific Bell so I assumed I would not win any fight with them :-|
By 1997 I had completely changed careers and was now totally involved in the computer industry here in the USA. By 1998 I was working on an incredible project with Kodak, Lucent Technologies and GTE to use the Internet so Radiologists could read images from remote hospitals, this is the TeleRadiology part of TeleMedicine. We created a web site using CF so Radiologists could consult on images. Eventually I got to work at Allaire then Macromedia as CF Consultant.
So ColdFusion totally changed my career my country and my life; to me it is truly an amazing product and world to be in.