Digitizing since 1989.
Well...Almost. The exact truth is a bit more interesting. I started in embroidery at age 18 while in college. Mumbling at the job board' " $5.50, $5.50, $5.75, $7.25!!?", I found my calling.... date money.
Day 1: I learned how to operate the melco eds2 software and the emc 6 single head embroidery machines... all 2 of them.
Day 2: Mary said, "I'm going to teach you how to digitize, but it may take a while."
Day 3: I digitized and edited my first commercial design (better than Mary's attempt a week earlier). Later I re-digitized it center out because I thought it would work better on hats.
Day 9517: I'm making my first web site.
I've learned a few tricks since those early days and believe that to be a GREAT digitizer you have to be the operator on your own logos for a long while to learn how different machines, fabrics, backings, toppings, needles, bobbins, tensions, timings, cleanings and machine wear and tear (and pure human preference) interact with one another.
The days in between included additions. I've worn the hats of a department manager, shop manager, shop owner, graphic designer, screen printer, instructor, machine mechanic (by necessity), etc., basically janitor through CEO.
I digitized all the while... Except once, when I started as "embroidery department manager", leading ALL the machines (8 heads. Hah!) and people (1 operator), we had no digitizing system. Paying $15 per 1000 stitches seemed a bit much since I had the skill. I printed the Panavision anniversary logo onto plastic and taped it in the little square on the curved cathode ray tube monitor. From there I "edited" another logo into the punched (ye olde word for digitizing) Panavision logo. I did a few more like that until boss-man Louie was convinced to buy a digitizing board.
Well, I've been advised to be succinct. I'll blog more stories, instruction, and advice. Request if you like.