I’m not sure how many people are aware of this – but Firefox is now celebrating it’s 8th birthday. Eight years since Mozilla dubbed Firebird, Firefox and sent the little browser that could out into the world to start the next browser war. My life was profoundly changed by this project that did much to shape the future of the internet and how browsers are designed, standards are deployed and people think about how they interact with the internet.
Back in the churning and brainstorming days of Mozilla (back when one person’s voice in the project was able to make a profound impact) I was a teen looking for something to do with my seemly endless supply of free time and determination. I hung around in the developer IRC channels (Rheeet!), made small talk with those who nurtured the Mozilla Suite (now known as Seamonkey) and tried my best to pick up C/C++ by example. I was already knowledgeable with Perl and proficient at PHP, but I had in my mind to learn a real language and figured volunteering my time with Mozilla was the best thing I could do to get the experience I wanted.
I ended up working with awesome people like Bart Decrem (who unwittingly offered a 14-year-old Canadian a job in Silicon Valley) and Asa Dotzler, where I ended up settling down in a role working on QA for Mozilla’s browser products (I was scarily good at spotting duplicate error reports, if I must say so myself). I was there to watch the first steps of Phoenix and it’s identity crisis as it then became Firebird and finally Firefox. Perhaps most importantly to my future, I was there when Spread Firefox was created and I became one of the first members of the community that spread Firefox to the four corners of the globe.
There I learned about CivicSpace and got a job through Chris Messina (who’s now a big social rock-star and remains an awesome dude). I’ve been an open web advocate and Drupal Engineer ever since. Amazingly, I’ve loved almost every day of my work for the last (nearly) eight years. So, thanks Firefox, thanks Mozilla, and thanks especially to those like Bart, Asa and Chris who believed in a teenager with a passion for open source and gave him the push he needed for it to become his career. Cheers, guys!