I started to write code at the age of 12 with Turbo Pascal for DOS on my dad’s 486. One question bothering me for a while then was how text-based user interfaces work with the mouse. How does the mouse cursor "know" what’s written on screen, e.g. to select a file? Fortunately, someone gave me the right hint - it’s an illusion.
There is a data model behind that’s presented on screen and mouse coordinates are translated to find the right menu item in the model. It took me an afternoon to write my own text menu using code page 437 characters for the frame - and it felt great! It was my first encounter with the MVC design pattern which of course I couldn’t name back then. I continued to write small applications for 16 bit Windows with Delphi and then made the switch to 32 bit with Windows 95.
At the same time I learned to play bass guitar, co-founded my first band, and began to write poems. In high school, I also enjoyed collecting electronic components and soldering small circuit boards. I tried to build my own MOSFET bass amp (to save money) which actually never got finished.
I learned C++ and Visual Studio in engineering school and frankly, in the beginning I didn’t like it at all. I thought Pascal was a much nicer language. However, taste changes over time and for more than 20 years C++ is my programming language of choice. I like using it “the Java way” when it comes to naming and coding style with a nice framework (like my own) underneath. I’m not into the all lowercase and underscore naming convention found in STL or boost. IMHO, source code should look and feel like natural language. I also messed with Pearl and PHP occasionally to build web pages.
In 1999, a schoolmate and I won a programming competition by Austrian gaming company Amatic for developing the game “Sphere”, built specifically for touchscreen devices. It never made it into a commercial product but it’s been the first time for me making money by writing code. Clearly, I was about to become a much better engineer than musician so the choice what to do for a living was easy.
I tried to stay connected to music as close as possible which lead me to move from a small town in Austria to Hamburg to work as a software developer at Steinberg for six years, before co-founding KristalLabs Software first and PreSonus Software next.