The very beginning I suppose you'd have to go back to the 50's or so when the company I work(ed) for was founded. But my story really started around the turn of the century when I came to work here. Things were hectic in the way software was developed. Trying to pigeon-hole the type of developement we did is hard to do. We didn't follow the book on proper life cycle developement (but seriously, if you could show me one company that does, I can show you a company that never gets much done). In fact, as one of the former VPs put it "I come up with ideas, and throw them over the wall for you folks to figure out." I think the best way to describe the way we coded would be "Cowboy Coding" which would be shooting from the hip first and asking questions later.
While this seems immensly inefficient, it worked. We churned out product (sure, it was bug riddled because we were never given time to properly debug and/or test the stuff we were delivering). But somehow, the company managed to earn a nice tidy profit. So much so that it got onto the radar of a company in England, which it turns out is owned by a company in Italy, which, as it so happens is owned by a company in Atlanta, Ga, which is a part of General Electric.
I can't remember exactly when it happened, but I'm guessing it was late 2001 or early 2002 when we learned that the management of our company had purchased it from the rich old man that had owned it. It was rumored that in his will he was going to leave the company to a college. The guy was like 150 years old, so it was good the management people bought it. Things were a little tighter under the new owners. Not much different since management was the same, but hey, now they were spending their own money instead of Daddy Warbucks bucks so I expected them to get a little tighter.
Every year we would recieve annual performance raises. The company had been generous with 6% - 8% raises. Until 2003. When 2003 rolled around and we were handed our performance raises, it was less than 1%. And that was across the board. Needless to say, people were not happy even a little bit. But, the consumer price index hadn't gone up very much, so we stuck around and kept working, hoping that next year they would see the error of their ways and make good for us.
Then October of 2003 came, and we got the news that we had been purchased by General Electric. It was a deal, they said, that had been in the works for more than a year. "Well, no wonder we got such lousy raises" I thought, "they had to make the company look even better on paper to jack up the price." I wasn't so mad about the raises anymore because hey, if I were in their shoes, I'd have done the exact same thing.