Thank You Joe

On April 20th, Francesco let the world know that Joe Armstrong had passed.

The tributes and stories have been flowing steadily since:

On various social media:

Having spoken several times at Erlang Factory / CodeBEAM, I had the pleasure of being in Joe's proximity many times, and chatted with him and my buddy Mark Diaz at one after-party. A recurring feature of stories around Joe was his laughter and exuberance and I was glad to be witness to it many times.

My Erlang story

I started learning about Erlang around 2006 after reading an article Joe had written comparing Apache (which I was very familiar with) and YAWS, an Erlang HTTP server. Various modes of Apache fell over around 10K concurrent connections while YAWS happily continued until 70K or so. Intrigued, I started down the rabbit hole of learning about Erlang, distributed programming, functional programming, and something just…clicked. It felt right to my mind.

I ordered Joe's book and started down the path. I started building a backend for some custom software to help manage an insurance agency, started learning about AMQP and RabbitMQ, CouchDB, and some other Erlang-based code, and started connecting a lot of dots from my computer science degree to a language born in industry. The best part, though, was rekindling the fun of programming again.

Lucky me, in 2010 a job posting went up on Craigslist with Erlang, RabbitMQ, and CouchDB listed in the nice-to-haves, for a startup telecom company. I knew nothing about VoIP or telecom really (other than having read some books about the 70s-90s-era phreakers like the Masters of Deception). Lucky for 2600Hz, they didn't know Erlang other than they wanted to use it but knew telecom.

We took a chance on each other and here we are, 9+ years later, all because Joe wrote a blog article a decade prior about a small experiment he had run. Butterfly wings and hurricanes!

So thank you Joe, for unknowingly being the catalyst of a career transformation, and helping me find my home in the Erlang community and at 2600Hz.