About Larry

Larry O'Brien sold his first program at age 16 and has been an influential voice in the software engineering community since 1989. He edited Computer Language, AI Expert, Software Development, and Game Developer magazines, founded the Jolt Programming Awards, and wrote the "Codewatch" columnist for SD Times from 2001-2015. Three times, he architected the core component for a company that subsequently scaled from single-millions to >$100M sales. His programs have appeared in National Geographic Magazine, been collected in the permanent design collection of the New York Museum of Modern Art, and have transacted more than $6B.

I grew up outside of Boston, in Belmont, Massachusetts, and went to Southampton College on Long Island, where I dual-majored in English and Marine Biology before dropping out.

I moved to San Diego in 1985 and worked for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration for awhile.

A screenplay I wrote led to misadventures in Hollywood for awhile.

In 1989, I moved to San Francisco to take the position of Product Review Editor for the magazines Computer Language and AI Expert.

In 1990, I was promoted to Editor-in-Chief of Computer Language. Ditto for AI Expert in '91.

I was the founding editor of Software Development magazine. Ditto for Game Developer magazine.

Along the way, I was promoted to Editorial Director of the Software Development publishing unit of Miller Freeman Inc. (now CMP)

In 1996, I quit publishing to launch an Internet game company called 1711 Software. We developed middleware for Massive Multiplayer Role-Playing Games. We went broke.

I rode the dot-com bubble from Architect to Vice President of Technology for a company called iMind Education Systems. In 2003, I was offered an extremely attractive job at a major software company located in the Seattle area. The ease with which I turned it down led me to realize that I was really willing to trade off a great deal for independence. Oddly enough, I ended up working for them a decade later and ended up retiring from them in 2022.

For most of the oughts I was a consultant for the travel industry, primarily specializing in NP-hard scheduling and "bin packing" problems. These are great problems that are very difficult to solve precisely but you can get approximately correct answers very quickly. From there, I ended up doing scheduling at Gemini Observatory (a pair of 10M telescopes, one in Hawaii and one in Chile).

After writing a travel app for the then-new iPhone I joined Xamarin, which ended up being acquired by Microsoft. I ended up in the Azure ML group at Microsoft where I worked until leaving in early 2022.

This site is called "Knowing.NET" because once upon a time I wrote a book about the .NET programming language C#. Nowadays, I mostly work in Python or, if I can get away with it, F#.