Monday, 6 May 2002
Yesterday, 5 May 2002, SUMit celebrated her 5th anniversary. Let's look back at SUMit's 5 years this week.

Malaysia, September 1996

My contract work in Kuala Lumpur is done. IBM ThinkPad I spend my earnings on my first IBM thinkpad at a small computer shop near my house in Bandar Sri Damansara.

The MPH bookstore in Bandar Utama has shelves of books on Java, the hottest Internet buzzword in Malaysia. Everybody is talking about it, yet nobody knows what it is about. According to a book it is an OO programming language and a platform independent one too. The book includes a CD with Sun's Java Development Kit 1.0. It sounds good.

Sumatra, winter 1996 - 1997

The laptop is in the backpack and I've headed to the highlands of Sumatra. The weather is fantastic, just like an ever lasting spring. The Dutch winter is far, far away. I am surprised to see a short report on the 11 Cities skating marathon.

At Software Alliance Malaysia I learned a lot about constraint programming and duty roster software in particular. I ponder about combining it with my previous experiences with expert system technology. My first Java applets come into existence:

  1. A matrix application that finds the optimum between supply and demand.
  2. An fuzzy rule manager that allows a knowledge engineer to define business rules.

the Netherlands, May 1997, the first customer

The first project, a bit of Smalltalk body shopping and GUI design. It is not the most exciting job, but well, the earnings are selamat datang kali (very welcome) after half a year of backpacking.

SUMit does not even exist yet. Inbetween programming tasks I hurry to the Chamber of Commerce in Rotterdam. Ten minutes later I am done, promoted from backpacker to entrepreneur, owner of SUMatra Information Technology. I feel like shouting it to the heavens, but my metamorphosis seems to be completely lost on the people outside.

The accountant advises me on my VAT number. I design company stationery with a logo and that's it, the first invoice is out the door at the end of May. A few months later SUMit HQ opens in Gouda.

Several other projects follow. Things start rolling for SUMit.

the Netherlands, November 1998, the first web site

As a leading IT company with Java as specialism, SUMit must have a web site.

I plan some time to learn HTML, but it turns out to be a Déjà vu with an old text editor. The very first version of the SUMit web site airs at the end of November.

Bukit Fraser, winter 1998 - 1999

Dutch winters are too cold for me. Business Rules for expert system I take the laptop and flee into the misty Malaysian highlands of Bukit Fraser. That is where I extend the web site and do a bit of work on the rule tool.

the Netherlands, April 2000, the first Internet customer

During spring 2000 the dot com hype is at its peak. Everybody and everything must be online. The belief in the new economy is still sky high.

Devote ( hires me as an OO specialist with Java experience.

The following months are fantastic. The team of the gentlemen Michiel Scager and Mark van Dijk is without equal. It takes kilograms of sticky pads but the result is great: a nifty Java servlet which allows investors to trade stocks of OHRA investments funds.

Malaysia, winter 2000 - 2001

Again a lovely hibernation in the tropics. In Taiping, city of ever lasting peace, I finally find the time to program a roster demo application. This demo combines the matrix optimisation algorithm and the fuzzy rule base from 1996.

Netherlands, April 2001, the first roster customer

Roostersoftware die voor u een rooster genereert The first customer of roster software is a company at Schiphol airport, my working environment for many years. A few sessions at Schiphol airport are sufficient to detail all specifications.

The construction of this project is in the SUMit side office in Yardley, far from phone and other disturbances. It is a nice a quiet place, the perfect environment to puzzle on complex roster algorithms. Thanks Antoinette!

the Netherlands, May 2002, the first anniversary

:*) Cheers!

Till next week,