September 11, 2001 is quite a memorable day for the obvious reasons. But for me, it holds an additional significance. Because on September 10, 2001 I registered the domain
bit-101.com and on the morning of September 11 the first version of the site went live, only to be massively overshadowed by other events just a couple of hours later.
Initially the site was a single page with a Flash application containing a calendar that linked to various interactive experimental pieces. I’d started doing the experiments in late August, so I was able to launch BIT-101 with fourteen experiments. It ultimately grew to over 600.
This was the previous site that was retired on 9/11/01, also fully Flash:
That KP logo came in with a really cool animation and there was a funky 5-second free music loop that I snagged off of FlashKit, which got really annoying after roughly 10 seconds.
A later version of BIT-101:
Yeah, I liked the Papyrus font back then. Also… what are lower case letters? All those sections were draggable and closable windows. Peak 2002 “web design”.
BIT-101 lasted in this general form, with various interface changes up until the end of 2005. There were many months I posted something new every day. Towards the end, it got a bit slower.
While all this was going on, near the end of 2003, I started the first BIT-101 blog. I say the “first” one because in late 2017 I did a blog reboot, to the new blog that you are reading here. The old one had a good 14 year run though. And is immortalized here: http://www.bit-101.com/old/. Amazing to think that the blog reboot is now almost 4 years old, which is about as long as the first old Flash site lasted. Time keeps moving faster.
Things sure have changed since that first site 20 years ago. Back then it was all about Flash for me. I was not working full time as a programmer, but I had a steady flow of side jobs doing Flash work. I’d written a few Flash tutorials on the KP Web Design site and those had done really well. In fact it led me to contributing to my first book, Flash Math Creativity.
This led to many more books, mostly with Friends of ED and Apress, but also OReilly.
In 2003 I was invited to FlashForward in NYC where I was a finalist for their Flash awards ceremony in the Experimental category. I remember being so starstruck meeting all my Flash heroes there – many of whom I consider good friends to this day. As it turns out I won the award, which was amazing. I went back to my day job the following Monday. I was working in the estimation department of a mechanical contracting company. I hated that job. I was thinking, “Why am I here? I am a published author and I just won an award for Flash. That’s what I should be doing.” Amazingly, when the boss came in, he called me into his office. Apparently I had screwed up delivering an estimate the previous week and he fired me. What I remember most clearly about that conversation was trying not to smile as I realized I was free. The next day I went to talk to a company in Boston that I had been talking to about doing some Flash work on the side and said I was ready to go full time. They hired me and thus began my official career as a “professional” developer.
Work-wise, starting from first job in 2003:
- Exit 33 / Xplana Learning
- Flash Composer
I started all of those jobs as a Senior Developer/Engineer/Programmer. At Notarize I am now an Engineer Manager, managing 10 other engineers and not really doing any hands-on coding myself. That’s fine with me. It’s a totally new challenge and I’m enjoying it, especially seeing and helping new grads out of school growing into amazing engineers. Interestingly, only two of those jobs required a formal interview. The rest of them were almost straight to offer from people I had gotten to know well through the Flash community.
It’s been an amazing 20 years. I had no idea where this was going when I randomly came up with “bit-101” and registered the name back then. But it’s worked out pretty damn well. What about the next 20 years? If I’m still breathing and able to type coherent code, I’ll be cranking out something for sure.