About Me | Gary Smith's Blog

Programmer & tech geek

About Me

My interest in computers goes back to the late 1970’s. I was a teenager back then with an intense interest in electronics. An Australian company called ‘Microbee’ manufactured a range of fairly ‘low end’ computers. I think I bought mine for around $399 which was quite a lot of money back then I guess, but comparatively cheap for a computer. I think other computers that were available in the early 80’s such as the Commodore, Peach and Lisa were around the $1000-$1500 range. The Microbee had a whopping 4k of ram and all data had to be saved and loaded via cassette tape. I started programming straight away in ‘Microworld Basic’ which was similar to Microsoft BASIC though it was around several years before the MS language.

Over the next 15 years (until 1995) I continued programming though I learned several other programming languages such as Pascal, C and C++. In the early 90’s I did a university course and that was where I first learned about the internet. I also became interested in the Linux kernel and would regularly download and compile the latest version and then mess about with Unix. The whole thing could fit on a 360k floppy disk in those days. The PERL programming language was also around then as well as PHP/FI which later became just PHP. I spent countless hours creating web pages with vi (the unix text editor) and notepad (the Windows 3.1 version).

In 1995 I’d saved up a little money and decided to quit my factory job and start up an internet service. At that stage I had been running a 2 line bulletin board system. Bulletin boards were a  dialup service where you could download files, play online games and participate in group forums as well as personal messages. There was a network called FidoNET that we were part of. Each FidoNET system would transfer messages and mail to a regional hub which would then transfer to a central hub and/or overseas. So it could take a few days to get personal messages back and forth but it was still way faster than the postal mail service.

The bulletin board was the platform I used initially. For the technical minded … we eventually ran 32 lines (with 2 8 port and one 16 port serial card) using the Maximus BBS software on an OS/2 server. Members would dial up and use Trumpet Winsock to create a connection via a SLIP program called ’slurp’ that ran on a unix user account that was created for each BBS member.

After running that system for a couple of years, two other business partners invested some cash into the business and we replaced the old server with an Ascend MAX access server and the dialup lines were replaced with fibre and several ISDN services. The internet service is called CAS Netlink and is still running today at www.cbl.com.au. A year or so after I started the Internet service I started another business to provide internet and network consulting to local businesses. There were several other partners in that business which closed down in 2013.

In the late 90’s I co-wrote a software program called Dialup Constructor. It was a program that any ISP could use to automatically set up the dialup settings for their internet customers. It was very successful for a few years and was sold to some very large companies and universities including HP, Motorola, Fujitsu, UC Berkeley, Stanford University and Qwest Communications. That software also lead to projects for Telstra (AU), Optus and HP. I also wrote a hit counter script in the late 90’s and configured the 6 servers that it ran on. At its peak it was taking 6-8 million hits every day.

In 2004 I decided that I wanted to concentrate on internet marketing and programming and that was when I moved my office back home. I spent a lot of time and money on various internet marketing programs and whilst I learned a lot about online marketing I found that I was spending most of my time programming. That wasn’t a problem though as programming is one of the things I’m most passionate about.

So that brings us up to 2014 (kind of). I also should mention that I am a single parent with one daughter who is currently studying in the USA. We also have 2 cats (Crystal and Lotte).

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