Harris Corporation – Palm Bay, Florida

November 1993 – November 1997

In the early 1990′s Harris Corporation employed over 30k individuals in Brevard County. Their Palm Bay, Florida campus was so large that the computer support folks drove golf carts between buildings. I was hired as a desktop support technician for the Air Traffic Control division of Harris Corporation.

The following describes my tenure at Harris Corporation and the roles related to the Internet that I filled.

Senior Desktop Support

I was hired into the support team and assigned to two of the toughest internal customer groups at their request – the Marketing and Publishing Operations Departments. Part of the assignment was to enable and support the automated creation of government and private sector requirements documents into a new file format called PDF (yes, that one – the first specification was released in 1993). These started as MS Word documents which were then printed into postscript format in a predetermined directory by the writers. This directory was monitored by the first versions of Adobe Acrobat Distiller which would transform the postscript file into a new format called PDF. Server side scripts would move the transformed documents into another pre-determined directory where they were made available to the core audiences via the local Intranet.

As a trusted expert in IT, I was asked by the Director of Marketing if I knew how to make those home page things. The marketing department had been commissioned to create a home page that would allow potential customers to download the product sheets for a new product over the public Internet. But they really had no idea where to start. While I didn’t know how to make them at the time I was certainly interested and had already been an early Internet adopter through things like Prodigy and America Online. She then asked if I could learn what was needed to build the home page, link the pdfs, create graphics to make it pretty and generally do whatever was needed to allow people to see it.

Division Webmaster

That was how I first got into the business of web developement, I was offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn literally on the ground floor of what was to become the most incredible revolution in communication and technology. I was told that all I needed to do was let the Director of Marketing know what software and hardware was needed and it would be set up in a dedicated office for me.

As the first Division Webmaster, I learned all aspects of handling early websites – Photoshop, Illustrator, html syntax (hand coded because visual editors did not yet exist), CGI-based forms processing. The sites were all hosted by the Harris Corporate IT department running Solaris and NCSA’s HTTP daemon (before Apache).

Corporate Webmaster

My experience with the web design and development at the division level led me to transfer into an opening as a Corporate Webmaster at Harris. I joined several other division webmasters in what became the first web development department in the corporation. There I continued to learn each and every aspect of web development from various peers. This time coding directly onto the Sun Sparc systems rather than connecting through terminal. This was in a time before Internet professionals started specializing – when a webmaster was expected to be a graphic artist, front-end developer, back-end developer and systems administrator all under one hat.

TL;DR

  • Original website designs using Photoshop and Illustrator
  • Designed on a Mac Quadra
  • Hand-coded directly on the server using the Unix utility “vi”
  • Hosted on Sun SPARC servers running Solaris and NCSA’s HTTP daemon
  • Created animated gifs
  • Early adoption of client side Javascript validation

Skills & Applications

  • Adobe Illustrator
  • Adobe PageMill
  • Adobe Photoshop
  • HTML
  • Javascript
  • Perl
  • Shell/vi
  • Solaris