My name is, Henrik Brinch, I guess since you’ve made it so far that’s not surprise to you.
I’m years old and have been working within the computer industry for quite some years now. I’m married to Henriette, who is also the mother of my four lovely children: Mikkel, Julie, Nikolai and Casper.
My interest in computers began when I was about 9-10 years old. At that time I was reading a danish magazine called “HIFI & Elektronik”, this was about HIFI equipment and electronics. One month there was an article about something called a computer – a computer for the people – named Sinclair ZX-81. I found it very interesting, and lent a book on the local public library, that introduced the concept perfectly. During a summer vacation with my family I read the whole book and indeed I wanted such a “box”.Mikkel, Julie and Nikolai are born on the same date – making them triplets. Now they are years old. And their little brother Casper who is now years old.
I got one for my birthday and I could hook it up to my black/white 10″ TV – at this time televisions was just started being sold with infrared remote controls. I was drawn into the programming, fascinated by how you could make computers do exactly what you wanted them to … so I quickly mastered BASIC programming on a keyboard that was almost impossible to write on (but very water friendly). This is certainly times I look back to with great joy in my mind. Loading a very simple game from an audio casette player, took about 10 minutes. No visible progress at all. After 10 minutes I would sometimes find myself with a failed loaded game, just due to an incorrect volume setting … then on to second attempt. This little piece of machinery had 1 KB of RAM and for a later birthday I got an anstonishing RAM extension of 64 KB RAM. The only problem with this extension, was when my friends shook the table – all memory was cleared and games had to be reloaded. I guess I also had a lot of patience back then 🙂
My interest increased and I enjoyed reading the English magazine “Your Computing”, dreaming of establishing my own software company as e.g Artic Computing, Imagine, Ocean etc. It was time for a new computer, the Sinclair ZX-Spectrum was launched. This piece of machinery had a better keyboard, could play sounds and show colors!
An exciting computer with great games. With a friend at school we managed to create a little game, had the source code published in a danish computer magazine and received money for it! Great, this was fun – and I could earn money at the same time! Still stuck in the BASIC language, though dreaming of being able to program in machine code – but not really getting any grasp of it … yet.
The Commodore C64 was introduced and time for an upgrade – thank god for birthdays and willingly and understanding parents 🙂
Now here was a keyboard, that you could actually type on! Great audio and even better games. It was at that time, I got in contact with a danish software company and I got my first commercial contract assignment. I had to port an educational program written on a Picoline in COMAL-80 to Commodore 64 Basic. This was quite an assignment and the pay was very poor. Going to school, hanging out with friends – made it impossible for me to have it finished for the deadline. The company pursuaded me to sent them all the work I had managed to make, because (as they said) I had no use for it – and I didn’t get any payment for it. Hmmm …
The years went by and soon I mastered the art of machine coding. The first machine code I wrote i wrote in hand – on paper. I was acting as the assembler, converting each instruction to machine code and then entering it as data statements. Phew, this was quite some work – but I learned a lot. Later on I got hold on an assembler and what a clever thing that was.
Now, I was able to remove copy protectections from commercial software – just for the fun of it – looking back, not very clever choice … if I’d been caught. Time for new upgrade: Commodore C128:
This was also the time where I began teaching. I tought 6502 assembly programming for students at the school where I was going – and again – I was paid for it – great … still having fun! Read an article about portable computers, you could actually buy a portable computer sized as an calculator, that could be programmed in BASIC. Nice, I could stay overnight with my grand parents and being able to play around with a computer, so I got one … the Casio PB-100:
Not very fascinating as I believe it had some kind of fault in its CMOS. It should be able to remember the programs during power off’s. But during time my programs was corrupted with strange characters, so I gave up on that one.
Now moving a step upward, I managed to get hold on one of the first Commodore Amiga 1000 computers in Denmark. This was by far the most expensive computer I’d ever had, as I remember it, it was about DKK. 18.000. That is a lot of money, for a guy about to start in high school – and I can’t even remember how I was being able to get hold of that kind of money – but I did … and I’m glad I did.
During the next year I was determined, I wanted to create a commercial product. I wanted to be able to see my own software product in the stores. While my computer friends were more ambitious, having great plans on great games – my was less ambitious. I had always had an interest in geography and countries, so I decided to computerize a World Atlas on the Commodore Amiga. Technically not very challenging, but as I was writing in assembler I decided to create it in 68000 motorola assembler. Hmmm … But I actually made it – one of my friends – Niels Krogh Mortensen – doing the graphics part, and me doing the programming. We got involved in the danish startup company called: Starvision International. The program was to become distributed by this company, but ended up being distributed my an american company called: Centaur Software Inc. in california (a software division of a large retail chain called Creative Computers).
I still remember the day, when I got a large package from USA with 10 shrink wrapped copies of the product. What a feeling, to see the product of your work. I guess it was the same feeling as authors holding their first book in their hands.
On a holiday with my parents to the southern part of Europe, I went into a computerstore – and there it was on the shelves, quite funny.
This was during my first year in high school and in the next years, I was registered as official Commodore Developer and was accessing the usenet for the first time! Way before browser was invented, I was able to communicate with others world-wide using my 1200 baud modem. My parents was probably being a little irritated on me at that point, because the phone line was always busy – and when they had to make calls they got these data tones in their ears. Time for my first own phone line 🙂
During this time I learned to program in C, from the absolutely amazing book: Kernighan & Richie
Clearly, writing an educational program in the assembler language – was not a wise choice. I’d not pratical education in how to structure programs, so my code was one piece of spaghetti. I still have a printout of the source code and looking at it is pure coding horror of app. 30.000 lines of assembler code. I rewrote the program in app. 3.500 lines of C code and managed to incorporate Arexx programming API, so users could extend the application using the Arexx language. Again looking back with joy on the happy hours using Lattice C, Aztec C and SEKA assembler.
So we made an incredible fortune on this product … I wish … nope, but we made some money – but it never made up for the time spent on the project. We never had the chance to verify if the royalty payments we received, actually matched what was sold by Centaur Software in USA. When I finished high school I travelled alone to California (Laguna Beach) and paid Centaur Software a visit in Long Beach. I had some ideas for new applications and their president, did offer me a job at their company. But I was going to have an higher education in Denmark, so I turned their offer down. I wonder how my life would have turned out, if I’d took them up on their offer.
Now, always being taught that you should have a higher education – but at the same time being quite borred of school and knowing I could earn money in the computer industry at that time, I just wanted to find a short education – so I could quickly get a paper on my knowledge. I chose the danish education called: Datamatiker (Datamatician), that was a 2-3 years education. I began the education as a evening courses some days a week, but quickly realized that it would take 2 years longer this way. So I decided to switch to daytime and at the same time I got my own appartment in Kgs. Lyngby.
At that time I met my lovely wife – Henriette – we were engaged after 1 year and married the year after. We have now been married for years. In may 2000 we got our first child … that is we had three at once. Five years later Casper followed – and what a joy our children is – we are truly blessed.
During the years of education I switched to the PC platform, taught myself C++ programming and 80×86 assembly programming and Windows programming (using the Windows 3.1 SDK – a heavy box of app. 10 books).
Just after I graduated, a classmate and I got head-hunted by PA Consulting group for an assignment at KMD. We where going to work as consultants (software developers) on a Windows based graphical user interface frontend for CICS programs. At that time, a very nice hourly pay, taking into account that we were very green. From my point, also very interesting the first couple of months. But then I got assignments, that wasn’t in the area of programming – and I quickly became dissatisfied with the assignment and I chose not to extend my contract. I guess I wasn’t ready to be a consultant at that time.
Quickly after I was approached by Ivan Sølvason (from Starvision) who’d started a new company ITE (Interactive Television Entertainment) and having quite some world wide success with Hugo the TV troll (an interactive game show, where viewers could play a game in live tv-shows just by using their touch-tone phones). He had a new secret idea, that he wanted me to develop. So I joined ITE and I got my own office (as the only developer) and it even had a lock on the door. I was not to tell any one about the project. The project idea, was to create a piece of software being able to be trickered using audio signals e.g. broadcasted in television or radio shows.
I managed to develop the software using FFT (Fast Fourier Transformations) in C/C++ and optimizing it in assembly for performance. I also helped writing the technical parts of the PCT (patent) documents. This was exciting times.
ITE grew bigger and bigger, moved to a new office and at the same time – it was time for me to move on.
I was ready to become a consultant again – and I got in touch with a Danish consulting company called Jensen Consulting where I started working as an employed consultant (on hourly basis).
In 1999 I asked myself: why would I work as a permanent employed consultant, where I only got paid for the hours I managed to work and at the same time had the uncertainty of whether the consulting company was able to bring new assignments in my direction. At the same time I’d established different connections in the industry – so I took the jump. Becoming a fulltime freelance consultant through my own company: TriGemini.
This was a good decision as I’ve gained a lot of experience though many many different projects. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people and made a very large network of business relations within the industry.
I’m still self-employed and is still working as a freelanvce consultant in my own company. The main part is consultancy either directly to companies or through other consulting companies. I also do professional training within the Microsoft .NET platform. Further more I’m also a partner (CTO) in a company called: iTVBlue ApS