Some personal thoughts and a big Thank You

Last week, Volker wrote this excellent article about Tomas Duff (a.k.a. Duffbert). Then yesterday the news reached me about the sudden death of Rob Wunderlich, a long-time member of the Lotus community. I had already started on a post — in preparation of my upcoming 25 year anniversary of becoming an IT professional — where I was going to acknowledge a number of people who meant much to me and who were important in making me to what I am today. I have decided to post this text a bit earlier than originally planned.

There are so many people who helped me and supported me over the years, and without them I would not be where I am now professionally. Some took a chance on me and gave me jobs where I grew professionally, others were more like mentors or inspirations, and some were teaching me how to do things with computers or in code. I know I am probably forgetting many who deserve to be mentioned. But I want to thank the following:

  • Tonny Olsson – my cousin who worked at Hewlett-Packard and let me see my first computer (complete with a plotter and an acoustic modem he used to connect to HP from our house) in or around 1975. He also introduced me to the world of HP calculators and RPN.
  • Peter Nilsson – my childhood friend and classmate, who introduced me to Basic programming when he got a VIC-20. We spent an evening (right after he got it) entering a program from the handbook, but we did not get it to work that day. Later on we got some programs working.
  • Henry Jacobsson – My teacher in computer science/programming in High School, who allowed me write my code in Turbo Pascal for CP/M-86 instead of the special language COMAL (a mix between BASIC and Pascal). He also taught me the basics of how to plan/design an application. I also want to thank Henry for not kicking me out when I hacked his systems administrator account and assigned myself 1MB of storage on the 30MB hard disk we had on the server. Normally each student got 4kB, but I wanted more. 🙂
  • I also want to thank several of the older students in the school’s computer club, who helped us younger students when we had questions. I want to mention Hjalmar Brismar, Petter Aaro and Matthias Bolliger, who were always there with advise and knowledge.
  • Arne Josefsberg – head of tech support at Microsoft, he took a chance and gave me a job without me having touched any Microsoft program previously.
  • Rolf Åberg, Magnus Andersson, Anna Söderblom and Micael Dahlquist – also at Microsoft. They helped me learn all kind of new things, from Windows programming using C and the Windows SDK to regular C programming using QuickC, from Excel to Word for DOS. I also ended up wothing with Micael at another job a few years later.
  • Per Engback and Ingvar Gratte – my two main teachers at the systems programming class. Despite this being just a one-year class, I learned plenty, especially C programming and Unix.
  • Krister Hanson-Renaud and Harald Fragner – two programmers/hackers who inspired me over the years, and who also introduced me to the world of Bulletin Board Systems (BBS). I had been exploring some earlier bulletin board systems back in 1987-88, but it was in 1989-90 I became “social” on these networks. Both Harald and Krister wrote their own BBS systems, and I ended up running one of them myself for a short time, but it was more of a test.
  • All my friends on CT and SKOM, the two BBS:s I frequented the most, between 1990 and some time in 2004. Here I learned about online debates, flame wars and of course plenty about hardware, software and programming techniques.
  • Lars Dahmén – the editor-in-chief at Computer Sweden who hired a 22 year old programmer/hacker in the role of journalist, despite no previous journalistic experience. Obviously he saw some possibilities in me, as I stayed for five years until I moved to IDG in Boston. Lars was a great boss, a very competent manager and is a very nice person. It’s hard to find that combination, and I think I have to say that he is the best manager I ever had. Thank you for not giving me too much grief about my messy desk and my shot-up hard disk on my bookshelf. He also tasked me with developing some of my first actual Notes applications, for internal use at the magazine, and approved of my moonlighting with Notes development (see Enrico Barile below)
  • Eva Sparr – the managing editor at Computer Sweden, and who I reported to directly. She usually gave me very free reign to explore new stories and test software/hardware as I saw fit, something that helped me develop my analytical skills.
  • Erik Geijer, Anders Lotsson, Maria Lindström and Kenneth Bäcklund – four of my colleagues at the magazine, experienced journalists who gave me a crash-course in writing, journalism and penmanship. A big thank you for all the time you spent giving me advise and proof-reading my articles. Erik also introduced me to HTML in 1994.
  • Enrico Barile – he exposed me to Lotus Notes, and started me on the path to where I am now. We spent many evenings at his office, building websites using InterNotes Web Publishing, which eventually merged with the Notes server in version 4.5 and became what we today know as the Domino server. I mainly worked on the HTML part, but I did learn a lot about Notes/Domino.
  • Morris Effron – my boss at IDG in Boston. He hired me from across the Atlantic, to become a full-time Lotus Notes developer. Not only did he trust in my skills and ability to learn new things (I had been writing several Notes applications, but nothing extremely complex), he sent me to several classes to increase my skills both on the technical side and on the social side. When someone from Boston, born in New York, think you are too direct and rude to the users and send you to a class to be nicer to people, that is a sign you are a bit rough around the edges. 😉
  • And of course all my friends in the Lotus/ICS community. Over the years I have gained enormous amount of knowledge from your sessions at Lotusphere, blog entries and direct discussions (in person at conferences or through Sametime/email), or though services to the community. In addition to Tom Duff, who I already mentioned, I would like to list just a few: Rocky Oliver, Andrew Pollack, Brian Benz, Scott Good, Julian Robichaux, Francie Tanner, Rob NovakChris Blatnick, Declan Lynch, Chris Miller (the one-slide-man!), Paul Mooney, Bill Buchan, Mark Myers, Matt White, Bruce Elgort, Yancy Lent (thanks for PlanetLotus!), Jake Howlett (who I never met, but who’s site have been a great resource over the years), Joe Litton, Stephan Wissel, Tim Tripcony, Nathan Freeman, and so many more. Not to forget all the Lotus/IBM people I met at Lotusphere, like Maureen Leland, Dan O’Conner, Mary Beth Raven, Susan Bulloch and all the others I been harassing over the years in the Ask the Developers lab at Lotusphere. I also want to thank everyone who presented at Lotusphere and shared their knowledge over the years.
  • Finally I would like to mention my parents, Marie-Luise and Stig Martinsson. Today (September 2) would have been my dad’s 87th birthday. They were great parents, and gave me the freedom I needed to read books all summer long (even if my mom sometimes thought I should go outside for a bit) and to take apart old radios or mechanical calculators, or solder together some electronic contraption in the basement of our house. Later, when I spent all my free time after school in the computer room, they were concerned that I was negligent with my home work, but they never forced me to abandon programming. And when I look back, I realize that all those thousands of hours spent in the computer room is what made me to what I am today.

So again, to everyone who in one way or another had a hand in bringing me to where I am today, a huge thank you. And forgive me if I did not list everyone, or I would be writing this list until Christmas…

Part of the Lotus community/bloggers meeting for BALD at Lotusphere 2011.
Part of the Lotus community/bloggers meeting for BALD at Lotusphere 2011.


The traditional end-of-Lotusphere picture, from Lotusphere 2010.
The traditional end-of-Lotusphere picture with part of the community, this one from Lotusphere 2010.


Blogger community at Lotusphere/Connect 2013. Photo by John Roling (CC-BY-NC-ND).
Blogger community at Lotusphere/Connect 2013. Photo by John Roling (CC-BY-NC-ND).

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Mary Beth Raven

    this is a lovely tribute to all who have helped you. We should all do this more often!

  2. Matthias Bolliger

    I feel moved by this surprising mention of yours. I share your fond memories of our school computer club, our fellow students and teachers. It was a special time. Personal computers and programming were new and being part of all that new excitement was absolutely great. You, Karl-Henry, were a real iconic personality already back then. Thank You! Let’s keep up the curiosity!

  3. Chris Blatnick

    Thank you, Karl-Henry! It has been a great pleasure getting to know you and getting to hang out with you at Lotuspheres past. Cheers!

  4. Kenneth Simmons

    I was wondering if this Ingvar Gratte is the same author of “Starting with COMAL” 1985. Purchased this book back in the 1980’s. Have a C64 and a PC with Windows 3.11 so I can program with COMAL 2.01 (C64) and UniCOMAL 3.11 (IBM PC.)

    1. Karl-Henry Martinsson

      I am sure it is, he wrote a number of books on programming and computers over the years.

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