Tim Cimbura, 9/26/15
I just turned 50 years old. I feel as young as ever though I need to wear glasses nearly all the time. About halfway through my life I know there’s a lot more to come. It’s interesting to reflect back on a half century of technology and how it’s influenced my career and life.
When I saw the computer I started out on in the Smithsonian Museum I realized it’s been an amazing journey.
My first introduction to computers was (seriously) punch cards and writing simple basic statements in a computer class in 7th grade. Around 1977 I got access to one of the first Apple II computers when my dad, a high school math teacher, was able to bring one home for the summer. I went crazy playing with this machine. One of the first programs I wrote made the computer count from 1 to 1,000,000 in only a few seconds. I couldn’t believe that could be possible.
Soon I was programming the computer in 6502 machine language and we invested in one for our home. After a tough time as a dish boy at the Sizzler Restaurant I decided I needed a job where I could use my brain. Having self-taught how to make the Apple II do incredible things I got hired in the summer as a student programmer for $4/hour writing educational software.
I wrote one of the first character generators for the Apple II called ApexText. For the first time it made it possible for any Apple computer to have upper and lower case letters, different kinds of fonts and text in multiple sizes and colors. It was revolutionary and was licensed for use in lots of applications and games by other companies. My accomplishments made the national news where I was called a “real life whiz kid”.
One of the first business apps I wrote from scratch was a database for a high school lunch program tracking all the food they had.
During college I studied Electrical Engineering and worked on a tech startup called CompuKeys that produced an app for schools that taught kids how to type. We created timed typing tests before there was even a clock in the computer. We also gamified the process of learning with advanced graphics as well as one of the first networked systems that allowed teachers to track the results of all their students in one place. I remember having to get special permission in school to use a computer to assist with our assignments!
Along came the Macintosh and a pretty amazing app called HyperCard. It became a platform for creating all kinds of software. I was first introduced to FileMaker when I needed to find a more powerful program to replace HyperCard. FileMaker became the foundation platform for many solutions that tracked all kinds of information. There was the whole time period where the Mac was thought of as a toy and required a lot of defense as being a real business tool. Then things changed with the release of the first iMac. Innovation was back and set Apple on the course to become the largest tech company in the world.
I consulted with many companies having the opportunity to work with Honeywell, the Minnesota SuperComputer Institute, Pixar, Burlington Northern Railroad, etc. along with several engagements with fortune 50 corporations like AmericanExpress and Target. Finally, I was the primary software developer for FirstTech the first ever Apple dealer. I learned a lot through those experiences about business analysis and how to implement technology well on all platforms Windows, OS/2, and Mac OS. I also learned the right way to treat clients and people.
I started Cimbura.com because we wanted to do technology for clients right. We were tired of corporate waste and inefficiencies. We needed a website and I found WordPress and it completely changed the way I looked at building web sites.
We began Cimbura.com full-time in the middle of the great recession. I hoped to do well enough to pay the mortgage and support my family. We had no idea that it would grow so quickly. We found some great partners along the way. The demand for our services is great because we truly live our tagline and make businesses more effective, productive, and profitable.
Here are a few of the things that have made me successful with technology:
- Being a life-long learner. I love learning new things about nearly any subject. When you realize how much you don’t know it really humbles you. Technology changes so rapidly that being an expert is actually very difficult because what you know today just prepares you for what changed today.
- Being open to change. The willingness to try something different that could be better and not be stuck in how you did it yesterday is key to being in technology.
- Being able to laugh at myself and everyday situations.
- Taking advantage of opportunities placed in front of me and taking appropriate risks.
Why do we do what we do? If I were to boil down our mission at Cimbura.com to three words it would be “Make life better.” …for our clients and our employees. It’s that simple. Through the use of technology we create better lives.
I get a kick out of helping people. It’s fun to be the “whiz kid” that delivers a brilliant solution. Often we get the opportunity to play the superhero and save a company from the effects of a former developer that didn’t know what they were doing or didn’t have the skills to take their solution to the next level. When that happens it’s exciting to see the smiles on faces when their technology actually works and makes their jobs easier. People light up when you say “Yes, we can do that!”
Science fiction author Arthur C Clarke wrote “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” What we see today is amazing.
Being on the cutting edge of technology is fun. We’re always pushing things to their limits and seeing what is possible. In my life I’ve seen the move from punch cards to the supercomputer in your pocket iPhone and the wearable Apple Watch. I’ve been telling computers what to do for over 40+ years and they listen. In so many ways technology has improved my life and taken me to places I never imagined. I even met my wife online…but that’s a story for another time.