Notwithstanding my creativity with fine art photography, in my early teens, twelvish, I wanted to be a writer; feelings were indeterminate prior, although, at four or five, like boys of that day, there were bouts of wanting to be a fireman or policeman. I had the plastic sheriff’s badge and the leather holster on my hip – no gun, dad did not allow me to play with toy guns – I shot at boys with my index finger and cocked thumb. But I digress, back to being a writer; I wrote proliferously, I loved expressing myself and I dreamed, one day, my words would impart significant relevance.
inc bl movzx edi,sptr shl edi,1 lea edi,ptr[edi+edi*4] cld movsd movsd movsw popad iretd
It was also around then that I discovered another creative pursuit, computer programming. In sixth grade, while at PS 144, the school installed six or eight Tandy Radio Shack TRS-80 computers. I asked when I would be taught how to use them; I was told they were for select students, not me. A year later, at twelve, I was programming in Basic and inline Assembly language on a Commodore PET computer. Just simple programs for graphics and reading or writing blocks of memory to a cassette. I had limited access to computers, I spent far more time reading and conceptualizing how code would execute than seeing it run on screen. For a brief time I had a Commodore 64 computer, however, it died after a few months and never booted again. Writing programs became entirely cerebral.
My dreams of becoming a writer had not waned. To read more books I took the Evelyn Wood Speed Reading Course. However, writing eventually took a back seat when I accepted a programming job with a startup company at 50 Broadway, half a block from Wall Street. School got out at noon and I programmed until 8PM daily (plus weekends); I wrote inventory and accounting software. A year later, when I turned sixteen, the company closed due to a partnership dispute; the customers asked me to continue with them directly. I took retainer deposits and worked independently and as needed. My school grades suffered tremendously, nonetheless, I refused to be hindered by a lagging educational system that failed to keep up with my drive. Mom was furious. I rented a basement apartment in Queens at seventeen and I incorporated my first company shortly thereafter.
cld mov ecx,9 xor eax,eax mov edi,esi repz scasb jnz short testsignbit mov cl,[edi] and cl,07fh setz ah ror ah,2 testsignbit: bt word ptr [esi+9],7 setc bh or ah,bh and sstat,_c3210mask or sstat,ax popad iretd
I never stopped writing; I took creative writing classes at the Learning Annex and continued with a journal and dabbled in short stories. Programming for increasingly more customers became even more stressful when, at nineteen, I started my second software company with one of my college professors. We programmed non-stop for over a year and a half, writing obscure and abstract Assembly language code, hundreds of thousands of lines; it left me isolated, reclusive, i.e. jailed. I also wrote my first book, a four hundred page software manual for the company’s product. However, two companies were a prison cell, so I sold my half to the professor.
I continued writing software for the next three decades. My programs are trusted worldwide: New York, Illinois, California, China, India, Europe; they work 24/7 and are used by countless people. For most of my life I felt as though I had put off my childhood dream; I realize now that I have always been a writer, I have written millions of lines of intensely creative programming language. I guess I never let that twelve year old Derek down. I had fulfilled his dream all along.