I first became interested in programming in about 1978, at the age of 12. I can recall the exact moment. I was in a classroom at The Royal Hospital School watching a very basic demo (written in BASIC) of a ball bouncing around a screen on an RM-380Z. Actually it wasn’t a ball, it was a single pixel. But the screen resolution was so low it was easy enough to see from the back of the classroom. Computers with floppy drives were rather expensive for schools in 1978, but some pupils from the school had won it in a competition. I was intrigued – how did it work? The teacher giving the demonstration (Mr Albert) encouraged my early interest and a few years later my grandmother was generous enough to buy our family an Acorn BBC B computer. My future path was set.
30 years later, including 22 years as a professional software developer, I am still fascinated by software. Experience showed me programming skills were necessary, but far from sufficient, to produce successful commercial software. So my interests have grown from programming to include the whole nascent discipline of software engineering. I have also become increasingly interested in the effective marketing of software. Many developers recoil with horror from marketing, but I want my software to make money and be used by lots of people. This requires good marketing as well as a good product. In my experience talented software marketers are even harder to find than talented software developers, so I have learned as much as I can about marketing software. It is actually quite a challenging and creative field.
3 years ago I set up my own one-man company, Oryx Digital, to create software products and offer consulting services to other software companies. Since then I have been extremely busy developing and marketing my product, PerfectTablePlan, which has gone from strength to strength. I released PerfectTablePlan v3.1.1 for Windows and Mac OS X a few days ago. I am very pleased with this new version, which has over 50 improvements and new features. The response from customers has been very favourable and the software appears to be very stable – no automatic crash reports (yet). It has grown far beyond my original ideas and now weighs in at around 100K lines of C++ and 200 pages of user documentation. In my (biased) opinion it is way ahead of any of it’s competitors.
Although PerfectTablePlan remains my main focus, I feel now is a good time to diversify a little. So I am now making myself available a few days a month for consultancy to other software companies, large and small. Do you need a new perspective on your product development and marketing? Perhaps I can help?
Meanwhile I have already started thinking about PerfectTablePlan v4. No rest for the wicked…