Ben’s life (the “good parts” version)
I changed my name in 2005.
The essence of my life lies within the intersection of many things, some easily described, some not.
Croatia is a lovely country located on the Adriatic Sea, between Italy, Austria, and Hungary. I grew up in the coastal city of Split, before moving to Zagreb (the capital) after my second year in high school, and then to Boston for college.
The ways in which the city and its people shaped me during those 16 years are too many to describe; they range from my interest in math and computers to my affinity for pearl onions in vinegar.
I haven’t been back there since 1996, and I miss it.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
I entered MIT in the fall of 1995, and graduated in June 2001. I am just as happy that I was there as I am that I am done — MIT has a way of driving people to work harder and have more fun than they thought possible. The trick (in my opinion) is to guess at which point your MIT experience would become dominated by working too hard instead of being dominated by having fun, and then change something. Graduating and leaving is a popular way to change something, but I chose a somewhat less disruptive move, and started working full-time for MIT Information Systems after turning in my Master’s thesis.
The Macintosh Development team of MIT I/S was the most important non-academic part of my MIT experience. I started there part-time in the spring of 1996, and I was provided with a very rich environment to grow in. My teammates improved my understanding of the American culture, software engineering, and the Macintosh, and helped my figure out what I want to do with my life.
In 1984, Apple introduced the first Macintosh computer — exactly on my seventh birthday. At the time, I had no way of knowing that when I get my first Macintosh in 1995 it would fundamentally change my life.
My first Mac was a Power Macintosh 7100, a gift from the president of Croatia in recognition of my achievements at various math and programming competitions. That gift had a bigger impact on me than I could have imagined — when I received the PowerMac in the fall of 1995 and turned it on, some part of me realized that the computer I had was fundamentally different from the ones I had seen before. This computer made sense.
It didn’t take long before I bought BBEdit and CodeWarrior. I loved how the computer treated me, and I set off to learn about Macintosh programming and create software that would similarly please others.
Over the years, I got involved in the Macintosh programming community in several ways — the comp.sys.mac.programmer.* newsgroups and MacHack being the most prominent ones — and that involvement guided me to become the software engineer I am now, and it continues to guide me towards better understanding of how computers help people.
We met at a new resident welcoming party at MIT’s Edgerton House in the fall of 1999. Our meeting was as serendipitous as it was life-changing; during the subsequent eight years of our relationship, we helped each other learn a great deal about who we are and who we want to be. The often thrilling and sometimes scary journey of collaborative self-discovery ultimately led us in different (yet still somewhat overlapping) directions. Echoes of what we share continue to ring in my thoughts.