I learned something about myself last week that surprised me: I really am not big into math.
Your laughing about now, right? After all, I’m a guy who has spent the past 15 years making calculators. I know, it surprised me, too, when I made the connection.
To be honest this has always kind of bothered me. I never did poorly in math in school but I never excelled at it either. In high school I got an A or B in Algebra and Algebra II and a B- or C in Geometry and Trigonometry. I got a C in statistics. I was never in the advanced classes; just at grade level, and my math grades were usually some of my lowest. By my senior year I had two math classes and used to skip them both to go the journalism room or computer room to write code. Sometimes a buddy and I would skip them and go to the mall for lunch. In college I took two quarters of Calculus and got a B+ both times and then took Statistics and still couldn’t do better than a C, but I worked my rear end off to get those grades and never really did understand what I was doing.
I really didn’t excel in college until I switched to business — accounting — and then transferred to a new school but I never really loved accounting per se. I figured the high grades were because I had figured out how to study plus the subject material came more naturally to me then engineering. It was the programming classes, once I started taking them again my junior year, where I excelled.
So when I graduated and started writing calculators for the PalmPilot it just didn’t make sense other than I saw a need and fulfilled it. It has taken me fifteen years to realize what the overriding theme of Infinity Softworks has been, even though I’ve been pursuing it the entire time.
You see, it isn’t about math per se. It is about numbers.
Working with numbers has been the constant theme throughout my professional career. Mathematics is just one way to work with them. Before I learned to program I used to create paper, dice and card-based baseball and football games. When I learned to program I wrote a basketball game, using player stats, and a golf game. The golf game used basic physics and vectors to determine ball flight path.
In the PalmPilot days I wrote a general-purpose financial calculator, loan and lease calculators, investment tracking, and personal finance tracking products. Once we added more people we developed scientific and graphing calculators. I have also tried to develop new things a few times over the years: an education specific math app called MathPoint, a data capture app called FastFigures.
The constant theme? Every one of those are about working with numbers.
Why did this dawn on me now? Because a friend, in relation to a new project that I can’t wait to share, changed a single descriptive word from “calculation” to “numbers” and suddenly it hit me like a sledge hammer.
I’m so glad he said it. Everything makes far more sense now.