Details, details...

This pilot fish's first-ever programming job in the 1980s is for a wholesaler that sells athletic socks on consignment -- the kind with licensed logos on them.

"Each retailer was contractually obligated to maintain a certain stock level," says fish. "I was hired to write an application in Basic to track their stock levels and reorders on our small minicomputer.

"One day, my boss asked me to find out whether there was a word processor available for our minicomputer. I called the sales rep and he informed me that no, there was nothing like that available.

"When I told the boss that there was no word processor to buy, he asked me if I could write one! I told him Basic is not generally good for that sort of application, and it would be exceedingly difficult to write a useful word processor in it.

"Being so new to programming, I hadn't asked him why he felt he needed a word processor.

"Turns out that all they really needed was a way to quickly write some boilerplate text for a report that listed all the products each retailer needed to purchase on consignment. They wanted to send these letters out right away, because the satellite office where we worked wasn't bringing in sufficient revenue to justify keeping the office open.

"Sadly, corporate headquarters decided to close our underperforming office, and I was out of a job."

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