This is quite an interesting and a bit long winded story of how I got into the computing field.It was the late 1970s when I was deciding which university I should go to. I had a passion for science and academia, and an aversion to humanities and math. At various points since middle school, I was into chemistry, biology, astronomy and botany. I also read about molecular biology, which was very fascinating to me.Trouble is, all this did not mean any kind of meaningful job in Egypt, apart from research and academic studies, which was tough to get into, due to only the first one or two top of the class being offered teaching jobs, and in some years, none at all.The high school system at the time in Egypt required that one selects either the humanities track (literature, philosophy, linguistics, geography, history, ...etc.) or the science track (math, physics, chemistry, biology, ...etc.). Then in the second year, the science track parted into two sub tracks: Engineering (Math, Computer Science, Civil, Architecture, Mechanical, Electrical, ...etc.) and Biosciences (Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Chemistry, Physics, Biology).Since I did not like math one bit then, because of not so good teachers in algebra and calculus that caused me not to like it much. Therefore, I selected the Bio-Science sub track, and this effectively shut me off from Engineering (and computer science) early.My mother was keen on making a surgeon out of me, but again, I hated hospitals, and was too soft for seeing people suffer. I saw how doctors turn this into a job, and get desensitized towards others, and call them "case" instead of "patient". I did not even like how the hospitals smelled (that disinfectant small made me cringe). I also hated needles from when I was a kid, and could never do anatomy on a cadaver no matter what, a requirement for medical study.I really wanted to do research in botany at the time, and wanted to be an academic.After considering being a dentist for a short while, I discounted that as well, because of the required anatomy of the head and neck, and doing surgery on patients too.When I graduated from high school, my marks were high enough to admit me into medicine, dentistry, or any other bio-science type of university. My family would not accept botany at all, and a compromise was reached to go into pharmacy, since it has lots of botanical studies too.Well, I made it to the Faculty of Pharmacy, at Alexandria University and graduated with good marks. I was hoping for an academic career in research. However, that did not happen. My rank was 11th on a class of about 300, and only 8 were selected to go as academic university staff. This was in the early 1980s.After working as a retail pharmacy for about three months, I was convinced that such a boring and routine kind of job is not for me. You can read more about why being a retail pharmacist is a bad career choice.The year before, I was introduced to computers via a relative's Texas Instruments TI 99/4A, then I got my own Sinclair ZX Spectrum, and learned BASIC on it.So, I quit that boring job, where my brain is not challenged at all. It was common to call pharmacists "clean grocer" in Egypt at the time.I joined the semi-governmental organization that provides health insurance. They were about to embark on a major computerization project, which was paid for by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The contractors were Price Waterhouse (later Price Waterhouse Coopers or PWC), and NCR Corp. Both American companies.Anyway, I got courses on Introduction to E.D.P. (Electronic Data Processing, which was what is now Information Technology was called then), Operating Systems, Programming Languages, Operations, Systems Analysis and Design, and much more. I was among a group that was sent to the U.S.A. (St. Louis, Missouri) to continue training, and help develop the system with Price Waterhouse. A lot was learned on this trip.After coming back and working for a few years developing more skills and experience on system administration, programming, troubleshooting, on mainframes, and on personal PCs, and early LANs, it was finally time to leave the government job, since there was no future nor motivation there. I ended up joining NCR Corp. in Saudi Arabia at the recommendation of NCR Corp. Egypt staff.And, as they say, the rest is history.
- Nokat نكت