Mar 6, 2014 David Lang

Throwback Thursday: Unexpected Employment

AcLogoColor For the past two "Throwback Thursdays," I've reminisced about my first exposure to Accordance in a life-changing demo, and my first purchase of Accordance 1.0. At the end of that second post, I mentioned how I was so excited about my purchase of Accordance that I was quick to send in my registration card. I also hinted that this decision would likewise turn out to be life-changing.

It occurred to me afterward that the idea of mailing a registration card to a software company might seem pretty strange in these days of electronic registrations. Back in 1994, it was quite common for a software package to include a post card which a user could mail in to register his purchase. It was also quite common for people never to bother mailing in these cards. I certainly never registered most of my software purchases, but Accordance was different.

This now seems so unbelievable to me that I find myself wondering if it really happened this way, but not long after I mailed in my registration card, I got a call from the developer asking me if I would be interested in working for Accordance part-time! Keep in mind that I had not sent in a résumé or made any kind of inquiry about job opportunities; I had just sent in a post card with my contact information and my status as a seminary student. I remember explaining over the phone that I had no programming experience and was by no means a computer expert, but I was told that didn't matter; they would provide the on-the-job training.

I love telling this story because it shows just how small OakTree Software was at that time. It may seem risky to offer a job to someone based completely on their registration card, but there was a definite method to the madness. First, the job I was being asked to do was to help develop modules for use with Accordance, and while this work definitely required a certain skill set, the technical aspects of the job were not terribly difficult to learn. One aspect of the required skill set was at least nominal proficiency with Greek and Hebrew, and the fact that I was a seminary student made it quite likely that I was already learning those languages. They could also see from my registration card that I was local—in fact, I lived about a mile away from the home office! Thus, that little registration card told them I was a local seminary student who was probably familiar with Greek and Hebrew and who was already interested enough in Accordance to have purchased it. That made me a pretty good candidate.

I didn't start working for Accordance right away. I was weeks away from getting married, and it just wasn't the right time to start a second job. However, I did begin working for Accordance later that same year.

I began with a period of training in which I learned the technical aspects of developing new Accordance modules. This involved learning to write macros using regular expressions in order to convert files from a variety of electronic formats to Accordance's proprietary markup language. I then had to work on converting and compiling a new English translation (the New Jerusalem Bible if I recall correctly). It was a bit like learning to solve a puzzle, and I found that I really enjoyed the work.

To minimize the risk of training new hires who might not work out, new developers were given a copy of Accordance which they spent their training period working to earn. That way, if they decided they didn't like the work or they weren't able to do the job, they could at least keep the copy of Accordance they had earned, and our fledgling company would not have invested more than the value of the software. Since I already owned Accordance, this arrangement was not appropriate for me. Fortunately, Accordance had recently released version 1.1 (which added support for a tagged Hebrew Bible), and was getting ready to release version 1.1a (which added support for the tagged Septuagint). I used my training period working for those new modules, and I was thrilled to have them.

That's my story of how I went from an Accordance user to an Accordance employee. Next week I'll discuss the development of Accordance 2.0. But before we leave Accordance 1.0, let me give those of you who started with Accordance 1.0 a chance to share your own story. If you go back that far with Accordance, leave a comment on this post sharing your own memories of how you first heard about and began using Accordance. When you do, we'll offer you a $20 credit toward your next Accordance purchase!

Note: Comments must be posted by March 13 to qualify for the credit, and please give us your full name so we can identify your account.

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