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Posted 5 May 2005

A Dogs Life (Old Dogs, New Tricks Sidebar)

, 5 May 2005
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A fun look at the history of programming Windows
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Since we're discussing new tricks for old Windows Programmer dogs (, I thought it might be fun to reminisce about the history of writing Windows applications. I'm sure some of you have similar stories and can appreciate the nostalgia that follows.

Potty Training

Remember how the first Windows programs were written with version 7 of the C compiler? It’s a good thing we no longer need any character based debugging tools spread on the floor in anticipation of an unfortunate accident.


Any respectable dog of the early Windows programming era learned to fetch early on. Who didn't run out and fetch a copy of Charles Petzold’s "Programming Windows" book and bring it right back to their owner (read PC)?

New Chew Toy

Though this dog didn't get to stick his head out the window (no pun intended) on the way to the first TechEd conference in Orlando, I soon got a hold of the new chew toy announced there - Visual C++. Of course the 16 "bite" version was ultimately replaced with a 32 "bite" version that many of us still play with today.

Collar Envy

Windows NT 3.51 was the development OS of choice for some time. After all NT was more stable and a much more worthy OS for the programming elite. However, when the dog next door got his new Windows 95 shell, we felt left out. Why couldn't we have a shiny new collar like that? Thank God for the NT shell preview release!

I'm a Dog, Not a Cat

An identity crisis ensued when my owner (read Microsoft) started telling me I should use Visual Basic for user interface development and reserve my use of Visual C++ for underlying business logic. Since by this time, I was as fast as a greyhound in my tool of choice, Visual C++, I never learned the feline way.

Flaming Hoop Jump

Even with a copy of Kraig Brockschmidt’s "Inside OLE", jumping through the COM hoop was something I never wanted to do. I did it occasionally, but never made it a regular part of my repertoire. Fortunately having survived my previous identity crisis with increased self confidence as a dog, I could admit that cats sometimes have it easier than dogs. Visual Basic really did simplify COM development.

Raising Puppies

With my complete line up of tricks, I’ve spent many years mentoring others. It is surprising how many of my old tricks are still new to folks today. A smart old dog, however, realizes there are even things to be learned from pups.


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About the Author

Tom Steele
Web Developer
United States United States
Tom Steele develops software for Three Rivers Technologies ( and their clients. He enjoys learning new things and sharing what he has learned through collaboration, speaking, and writing.

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