As an eighth grader residing in Huntsville, Alabama back in 1978, I attended a junior high school that, to my advantage, had an arrangement with a technical trade school. I had the opportunity to take a computer science class as an elective. One class, one year, and I was completely hooked. However, this was just at the beginning of the personal computer era. This specific school had two Apple II personal computers and an old mainframe. Of course they taught us about punch cards and streaming tape but none of the students were interested in those old technologies. We all wanted to learn to program on that new Apple II with its' tape drive. I especially enjoyed learning basic programming in those classes.

My family decided to relocate to a rural area in Southern Tennessee within the next year. My new school was night and day, different than the school I attended in Huntsville. The closest class they had to my computer science one was an electronics class. At this moment I realized that my world was going to be turned upside down. Trade computers for FFA (Future Farmers of America)? No way! As it turned out the electronics teacher had received this new personal computer from Tandy. It was a Tandy TRS-80. The teacher had no idea what he was going to do with this new piece of equipment in his class so he set it aside. I was placed in this electronics class, but was able to negotiate a self study program of this new computer as long as I could show the teacher and administration how this new technology might bring advancements to the school. I wrote a GPA (Grade Point Averaging) and Class ranking program which was sold to the school. This program helped reduce the labor required by the school to rank the senior class.

I took a part time job bussing tables at a nearby restaurant during the summer. The time I spent away from a computer, was a terrible thing. I would purchase magazines and visit electronic stores to see what the next "big thing" was, just to be remotely close to computers. The one thing I really wished for was to be able to afford a computer for home use. My family chose to relocate to Southern California at the end of summer. My new school, Westminster High, had a complete computer lab with not only mainframe access, but a wide variety of personal computers. This school taught basic programming, as well as Cobol and Fortran. I took a year of Cobol and half a year of word processing. I was able to take the money that I earned from the summer job, along with a loan from a family friend and purchase a brand new computer of my own. At this time a company, called Commodore, released a new personal computer system called VIC-20. This system was much cheaper than the Apple system. The total cost of the system was $300 and to top it all off, it hooked up to a normal TV set. With the purchase of this new computer, I was able to start a friendship with some guys at a local computer store. They were collecting programs for this new system and packaging them for sale. I wrote approximately 5 games and a few horserace gambling analysis programs. Even though, I did not make a lot of money, I enjoyed this job more than working for fast food restaurants. The only reason I still worked for fast food restaurants was to feed the addiction of being able to afford more computer items. During High School, I created a small computer consulting company, called Aud Computer Services. This company offered my services for $25 an hour to local businesses. Again it made better money than fast food, but required a good deal of marketing. A few of my clients were involved in stock and commodity investments. Some of the analysis and business management programs that I wrote seemed to be successful for them as they kept me busy with new updates.

Newspaper: High School News Article

After I graduated from high school, I needed to find that programming job with a big company and I would be on my way. I must have put in 50 applications. No interviews, no nothing. I could not find out what I was doing wrong because I knew I was a good programmer. It turns out that the big companies were looking to employ people with some big college or long term experience. I didn't have either one of those. My next decision was to go to college. Computer stuff was pretty much second nature, but the investment and financial programs I was writing were interesting. These people seemed to make a lot of money. Maybe the right answer was to go to school and take economics. I enrolled in Cypress Community College and was taking Economics to get a better understanding of the investment markets. I was already making money in that industry, writing programs for others. After about 3-4 weeks I talked with the professor and explained what my goals were and he told me that they wouldn't be getting into investments for a year or two.

I thought my way of making it was to continue my computer consulting because it made quick and easy money. I took a job at a local computer store selling these computers that I loved so dearly. This gave me direct access to not only the latest and greatest equipment, but training as well. During this time I found that if I taught computer classes it would enable me to make more contacts for my consulting business. This was just the marketing practice that I needed. I could work during the day and provide consulting services during my time off.

As the consulting business grew, I realized that I wanted to do more than just selling computers. The computer store management and I decided that I should become an outside contractor and be paid to teach their computer classes and provide consulting services for their clients. This was a pretty huge break for me because it made me available for more hours of consulting. This relationship went on for about a year or so.

The consulting business was going strong, but I saw that others were making more money selling computer products, so I opened another business. This Computer Price Club solely dealt with publishing a print catalog of products that we purchase from wholesalers and resell to businesses and consumers. The bookstore shelves were packed with how to make money reselling products. Sadly enough, this did not work for me. After I invested a few thousand dollars and I spent lots of time passing out product catalogs, the business was just a flop. However my consulting job was still going strong.

Another year or so passed and my thoughts were on stable employment again. A computer job at a local private school enabled me to put my skills to use on a daily basis with a permanent job. This was nice because I would no longer have to travel from client to client for an hourly rate. Now I would get paid and have a normal job. I worked at the private school, Fairmont for about 2 years. The next mysterious opportunity presented itself to me. Another local private school, Corneila Connelley Girls School offered me a job as a computer teacher. I accepted the offer because I had taught adults before and wanted to give it a try. With only a couple classes a day, I still had time for my sideline consulting business.

Teaching only lasted for a year. I enjoyed it, but the school needed more of a professional teacher. I realized teaching was not going to be my career path. I have a remarkable amount of respect for any teacher that has to deal with students, parents and administrators that all have a different opinion as to what the right course of action is with guiding the young generation.

Teaching was an enjoyable job, so the thought of holding my own computer classes crossed my mind quite a few times. I sat down and created a business plan for a new company. Computers in Action was a company based on the idea that we could open an office to provide computer repair, consulting and training all under one roof. I opened an office, built repair stations, and setup a classroom. The computer repair side of the business was efficiently easy. A customer would call and we would dispatch a technician to repair or pick up for repair their system for a flat rate of $100 plus parts. The local businesses loved it. The training part worked by offering evening classes on popular subjects for $100 for 2 hours of class time. Marketing was a snap as I developed a program to auto-dial and sent our advertisements via fax. This was just too easy until some local business man and politician decided to sue me over the faxing. I ended up losing the case and had to pay the man 22 cents plus court costs. The good side of all this was the issue was covered by the L.A. Times Newspaper and a few Southern California News Radio stations. This meant that next time, the price would be higher. I tried other methods of advertising, including the newspaper. Some worked and some didn't, but nothing provided the return on investment quite like having a computer sitting in the corner advertising for free 24 hours a day.

Somehow I must have had made the right contact. After a couple of years running Computers In Action a recruiter contacted me and asked what it would take for me to join Corporate America. He had an opportunity for me to put my programming skills to work for American Honda Corporation. Not sure if this was just someone dangling a carrot or what, but I decided that I would go to the interview and see what happens. I took a portable computer and did my best to dazzle the technical interviewer. I had been working with Microsoft Visual Basic on the side for a few years and they were just starting a large project called the Dealer Communications System. I was able to impress them with some of my coding, and they offered me a 1 year contract as a contract programmer. In my eyes, this was my big break. I scored what seemed like a permanent job, plus a regular paycheck. I sold Computers in Action right away and have never looked back.

Immediately after the American Honda gig was over, I was offered another contract to work a few months for a company named EDS on the Hughes Aircraft account. After that contract, I was offered another with EDS on the Xerox account but this time in Rochester, New York. This gig required a bit of risk. I had to travel to New York from Southern California. I would be reimbursed when I arrived and I would be put up for 1 month to get going.

In 1996, I decided I loved this technology. With 20-30 accounts with EDS and EDS being purchased by HP, I still believed I have the best job in the world. I still do a small amount of side line work. I own Active Web Hosting where I allow people to setup and run their own web sites. I do a little of my own programming on the side. To wake up every morning doing exactly what I started back in junior high school is a wonderful thing. My success comes from a never ending desire to do self study and to learn about new things.

Today I get to play with some of the best technologies, and work with some of the largest corporations in the world. I go through my day believing that I work with and mentor the best people anyone could be associated with.