I said 5-8 years, but my first introduction was in a Unix course in 1995. I wrote the one required program in the language, then basically put it out of my head, still trying to get a grasp on other *nix admistratia (and *nix generalia).
In the spring of 1997, I was taking a systems programming course, trying to pass the last of my CS classes to try to graduate soon, and having a rough time of it. My C skills were kind of weak (at the time I was better in Pascal, although not that great in either), so two of my required programs to that point had not done so well. My professor (bless $her) had stated that we could write our programs in any language that was available on the school's main computer system (a VAX minicomputer, iirc), and expressed her concern about my recent programs after giving us the third of our (five proposed) major assignments, which would be due after returning from spring break. While trying to figure out what to do and trying to find what programming languages were available on the school's system by browsing its help system, I ran across a reference to perl, which I had also noticed on my linux system. Remembering a little about the language from the earlier course, I went to the school's library and checked out the only (iirc) book (Perl by Example) they had on the language at the time, renewed it just before going on spring break, and used it over the break to write the macro processor that was the third assignment (which helped me to pass the class, required for my degree).
After that, I started using it more and more, especially as I realized how useful it was to me for doing system administration tasks, and was one of the few to use it in computer programming contest held by the school's computer club in the fall (including on a macro processor-like problem, which I was the first to complete successfully). Later, at my first job out of college, I used it to write a program to import user accounts for personal websites into a *nix-based server, then for more administration tasks. At my prior job, I used it heavily for administrative tasks, and while there found and became a part of this site. My current job was my first where coding was my primary task, and I've been lucky to have gotten to work primarily in and with perl.
So to all those who helped make perl, this site, and even me what we are today, my most heartfelt and sincerest thanks.
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