Where it all began
Back in 1998, when I was 16, a friend of mine lend me a copy of a Delphi 3 book. At the time, I used to work as storekeeper and all I knew about computers was how to use Windows 3.1 and 95, Word 6, Excel 5 and MS-DOS. It was a default informatics course pack common in Brazil at the time. After reading this book, I used my spare time at work to go to the company's office and use my boss's computer to implement some examples and create small applications, using Paradox, DBE and Delphi 3 to automate some small tasks. My boss liked the idea of receiving free software and said I could use all spare time I had in his computer. 5 years went by and I decided it was time to look for a real job as a software developer. By that time, I had accumulated a lot of experience and was convinced by a friend, a Clipper programmer, that I was already good enough to give this step. I was 20 at the time. I grabbed the yellow pages, remember it was early 2002, and listed the name and phone number of all software development companies in my city. It was not that many. Then the next step was to call each one, inform I was interested in appling for a programmer position and ask for an e-mail address to send my resume. Well, it was sassy, but it worked, and in May 2002 I was already working as a software developer, in a company that had clients in Brazil and Switzerland. Since 1999 I was already studying english by myself, to be able to understand the information I used to find about Delphi in the early Internet, and this knowledge was crucial, since from the beggining, english was already the default written language at work.
The First Real Challenge
I remember seeing that messy code at my first work and thinking, well, code is more complicated as I thought. I have so much to learn to be at the same level than these guys. Actually, that code was just messy, but I was only able to realize that years later. Lots of patterns and idioms common to structure programming, a years old Delphi desktop app that needed to be refactored to be moved from DBase to Paradox. Not that much of a improvement, but significant at the time. It was a project from a brazilian customer. The senior guy told me I should not touch the other project, from the international customer, until he said otherwise. Something that took about 2 years to happen.