I’m your host, Joel Spolsky, responsible for just about everything on this site. This is Joel on Software, where I’ve been ranting about software development, management, business, and the Internet (ack) since 2000. Rest assured, however, that this isn’t one of those dreaded blogs about blogging.
Born in the USA, I grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where I started programming in 1978 at the UNM Computer Center, on an IBM-360 mainframe running CALL-OS. I moved with my family to Jerusalem, Israel when I was 15 years old.
After high school, like most Israeli kids, I served in the military, where I was in a program called Nachal that allowed you to spend less time in uniform in exchange for work on a kibbutz. It was during this period that I spent almost two years, in all, working in the giant bread factory Oranim, baking hundreds of thousands of loaves a night. By the time I finished my military service, I had reached the rank of sergeant in the paratroopers (tzanchanim), which anyone who knows me will realize is completely absurd. I have no ability to submit to discipline, I’m terrible at anything requiring physical prowess, and I hated every minute of that time in the army.
I came back to the US for college, where I went to Penn for a year, then transferred to Yale, where I got a BS in Computer Science. My senior thesis was a design for a programming language called U, a dialect of C that supposedly let you declare “user” variables and functions that would automatically get exposed to the user through the UI.
I started my career at Microsoft, a little software company outside of Seattle, where I was a program manager on the Excel team. My area was “programmability” and most of what I worked on in those days was replacing the Excel macro language (XLMs) with Excel Basic, and providing an object-oriented interface to Excel. Excel Basic became Visual Basic for Applications and the OO interface is what you know as OLE Automation, a.k.a. IDispatch.
In those days, Microsoft was small (5000 employees!) and reasonable. But I was tired of having no life outside of work, so I moved to New York, where I spent about ten minutes working for Microsoft Consulting before I fled in fright, getting on a bicycle and riding straight across the USA over the course of ten weeks while I figured out my next plan.
I had two more jobs in New York. I spent a couple of years at Viacom Interactive Services, doing a lot of goofing around but also building an application server for MTV which was really fast. Then I crossed the street to work at Juno Online Services, a national ISP.
But I had always wanted to start my own company, and I finally reached the point where my mind had tricked me into thinking it was going to be easy. So, together with my friend Michael Pryor, I started Fog Creek Software in September, 2000. We've been growing steadily, without any outside investment, since then. We didn't start with a particular product in mind: our goal was simply to build the kind of software company where we would want to work, one in which programmers and software developers are the stars and everything else serves only to make them productive and happy. The theory, which has proven itself over and over again, is that this kind of thinking would allow us to attract the super-talented software developers who would do great things and make us successful. Today we have a beautiful office in New York City and share all the profits with our employees. Our main products are FogBugz (bug tracking and software project management), Kiln (version control and code reviews), and Trello (a simple web-based collaboration app you have to see to believe).
This website started in early 2000 at the URL joel.editthispage.com, hosted by Dave Winer's UserLand on his new Manila publishing platform. I just started banging out articles about the business and management of software, including a whole book about user interface design. All that stuff is still here, and I’ve been adding to it ever since. I’ve also published four books which are mostly just edited versions of this website. Although I officially retired from writing Joel on Software after ten years, on very rare occasions I still find time to post the occasional article.
In 2008, Jeff Atwood and I cofounded Stack Overflow, a programmer Q&A site that grew to be one of the 100 largest websites in the world. It has expanded into a network of Q&A sites with millions of monthly visitors called Stack Exchange. We raised a lot of venture capital for this business and hired a team of brilliant people all over the world. Today I am the CEO of Stack Exchange.
I live on the Upper West Side of New York City with my husband Jared and Taco, the world’s most famous Siberian Husky.
Over the last 13 years I’ve written 1110 articles on this site about software development, management, business, and the Internet. To make it easy to find the best ones, here are some reading lists, sorted by topic.
There’s a software company in New York City dedicated to doing things the right way and proving that it can be done profitably and successfully. Fog Creek Software. Here’s the story:
I’m your host, Joel Spolsky, a software developer in New York City. More about me.
Need a better career? We’re bringing together the best software developers with the best companies on the Joel on Software / Stack Overflow Job Board. You can search job listings or even file a CV and let employers find you.
Want to hire a smart programmer who gets things done? The best ones are at Stack Overflow Careers. Info for employers.
I’m the CEO of Stack Overflow, where you can get expert answers to programming questions very quickly. We recently launched Stack Exchange: a network of sites using the Stack Overflow model, where you can get expert answers to questions on all kinds of topics, from cooking to computer games. If you have an idea for a new Stack Exchange site, propose it on Area 51.
For my day job, I’m the CEO of Fog Creek Software, a bootstrapped software company in New York, NY. We’re proving to the world that treating developers well can be profitable.
We make FogBugz, a bug tracking system that actually works and can be used to manage everything your development team does, from bug tracking to customer email to feature management to project scheduling and more. Try FogBugz now.
Fog Creek Copilot lets you control someone else’s computer (with their permission, of course) over the Internet. It's the best way to fix someone's computer problems remotely. There’s nothing to install, it’s simple as heck, and it works through any kind of firewall, NAT, or proxy situation with zero configuration. More
Many articles on this site have been generously translated by volunteers around the world on our public translation project wiki. If you speak a second language, would you be so kind as to translate something?
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