I am a student of technology history. I love to walk features, software and needs backwards into the past. Today I wrote up an encounter with a really fascinating person in Rockford who single-handedly created decades worth of municipal software. Here it is: Incomplete History of Civic Hacking in Rockford.
Here’s a snip:
This software, written by a single traffic engineer in his spare time in the BASIC programming language that he taught to himself— was used to determine proper signage, lighting patterns, street markings, and other elements of traffic modernization in Rockford for decades. It wasn’t replaced until the entire state finally migrated to a single system, with terminals in every police vehicle for the collection and dissemination of traffic incident data, circa 2000.
“I like to pick up manuals and figure stuff out”, he said. “The other software I wrote was to help with other people who had problems they needed to solve. But this one was for me.”