Goodbye Software, Hello World!

Typically I use this space to talk about some adventure I’ve been on, like some friendly grizzly bear I’ve just met, or some upcoming event I’d like you to know about. But today is going to be different. For this week marks the start of a new adventure for me personally. This week marks my retirement from the software industry, and the start of a new series of adventures.

I’ve been working in the software industry for 35 years now, and I’ve used many different computer languages to get the job done. No matter how many languages you learn as a software developer, there’s always one constant. Your first program in any new and unfamiliar language is always the famous “Hello world!” program. The idea is, when you’re working territory that is completely unfamiliar, the simplest thing to do is to learn to write a string of characters to the screen, and the string of choice is always “Hello world!”.

The first known version of this simple program comes from a 1974 Bell Laboratories internal memorandum by Brian Kernighan, Programming in C: A Tutorial. The program goes something like this:

printf(“hello world”);

So why is this relevant? Well, while figuring out how to make a new programming language do this might be necessary and to a small degree exciting, sitting behind a desk to make it happen is about as far from experiencing the world as you could possibly be, in my opinion. So, I decided to do something about it. I decided to leave my software desk job and spend more time in the wilderness. John Muir could not have said it better:

“I am losing precious days. I am degenerating into a machine for making money. I am learning nothing in this trivial world of men. I must break away and get out into the mountains to learn the news”

Exactly. And while I realize this option is not realistic for most folks, I’m in a position to try it, and I think it would be a shame not to go for it. So I’m going to do it. Besides, I’m running out of material for these blogs, and I don’t want to let you guys down!

So, with no particular plans in place, but lots of possibilities in mind (hey, it’s a big world!), I’ve left my desk job at Getty Images to follow my passion.

Sure, software has been good to me. I first started a year before graduation at the prestigious New Orleans firm “Waldemar Nelson – Engineers and Architects” back in 1979. As a young kid not even out of college yet, I essentially “owned” the coolest technology available at the time, Digital’s VAX 11/780 super-mini computer. I went from there to the manufacturer of that system, the second largest computer manufacturer in the world that no one has ever heard about unless they watched a lot of PBS programming, Digital Equipment Corporation. After working at a Metairie, Louisiana based firm started by my friends, which took me to Dallas, Texas and even Sumatra, Indonesia for a while, I eventually moved on to in Redmond, Washington, and then on to Microsoft, and finally to Getty Images, where I wound down my career.

So there it is. I’m taking a leap of faith, leaving the comfortable world sitting in a desk behind a computer screen to follow my passions, travel and photography. Where it will take me, no one knows. But hopefully it will be exciting, and will provide me with the material to keep these articles interesting for years to come. Hey, maybe I’ll even check out a differentl planet! I hear they’re looking for volunteers to go to Mars!

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17 Responses to “Goodbye Software, Hello World!”

  1. Deb says:

    Congratulations on your retirement and may you enjoy this new adventure through life, Ed.

  2. stacey says:

    Ed, it has been a pleasure to work with you. Best wishes on your travels and new adventures. There’s always a spot for you at the dinner table. Now get out there and show us desk jockeys what we are missing.

  3. Ron says:

    Congratulations Ed on your newest career, leaving behind us software devs. In all your future travels, may your hands be steady and your eyes see sharp 😉

  4. Jim Lippincott says:

    “Where am I going?… I don’t know…
    When will I get there?… I’m not certain…
    All I know is I am on my way…”
    Some lines out of Paint My Wagon

    I’m happy to hear you’ll be following your dreams.
    The adventures will feed your soul & surely reflect in your yet untaken photographs…
    Happy Trails!

  5. Ed Leckert says:

    Thanks, guys! I promise I won’t let you down! 🙂

  6. Matthew Beasley says:

    Congrats! You’ll never look back!

  7. Abi says:

    Hey, have fun putting miles on your camera’s actuator! With all the free time you have, you might need to get mirrorless soon.

    My first home desktop was VAX Station 3100 m38 – – I still have that thing in the garage.

    Btw, it was very nice working with you.

  8. myra says:

    I am proud of you for following your dreams.
    I look forward to hearing more about your journeys and encounters along the way.

    From one Cajun, to another…”Laissez les bons temps rouler”


  9. Jeff Gustafson says:

    Hi Ed, I like your use of “Hello World” to describe retirement. Although, “retirement” doesn’t fit. “Rusticate”, perhaps, is more fitting. Your blog post reminds me of a past workmate, Christy, who makes year long escapes from the software industry on a sailboat named “Hello World”. It’s been good getting to know you and I’m looking forward to vicariously following your adventures from behind this desk. Namaste.

  10. Lorraine says:

    I’m looking forward to reading some great stories on your weekly blog, Ed! Enjoy your expeditions! I’m happy for you.

  11. Marta says:

    You’re awesome and inspiring, and gets me thinking about being bold like you. Can’t wait to see what interesting adventures you find yourself in.

  12. The Westrock says:

    Life has been quite dull around the office these last two days. Your presence is missed! The hallways have been boring to walk (I have nobody to give a hard time to and talk about photography!)

    I’m looking forward to see where future adventures take you, and what you do with that 600mm lens!

  13. Dan says:

    Hey, all the best. I’m slightly (OK, very) envious. I have a few more years to go before I feel free enough to follow my passions, and they won’t be photography (I have a list – bet you don’t even know what’s on it! We’ll have to get together more so your curiosity can be satisfied), but it’s in view at least.

    • Ed Leckert says:

      You’re right, Dan, I don’t know. I suspect backpacking is on the list, but I have a feeling it’s a few slots down from the top. Well, my schedule’s pretty open these days when I’m in town, so let me know!

  14. Lidija Kamansky says:

    Congrats Ed!! Will miss seeing you on the bus and sharing our photo and outdoor adventures! But so excited for you to move on to this new chapter! Congratulations!!!