Computer programming languages — C , Cobol, Fortran and more — are second nature to Tony Orrico, a New Jersey tech entrepreneur and a self-professed geek.
That’s more impressive considering that when Orrico came to the U.S. from Brazil in the ’70s, already a young adult at the time, his exposure to technology hadn’t just been minimal — it was totally absent.
As were other things that are taken for granted here.
“We were under military rule (in Brazil), so we didn’t have certain freedoms,” Orrico said. “(Besides having) no technology whatsoever, money was harder to come by.
“You couldn’t just open a business because you wanted to, not with all the bureaucracy and corruption.”
Starting a business — what would become Piscataway-based NCS Technologies Inc., a “digital experience” company that optimizes how customers interact with its clients’ tech portals — was in Orrico’s future when he arrived in North America at age 17.
But some time passed between settling in New Jersey and taking the helm of a company with 115 Garden State employees.
In the meantime, he was steered toward the tech profession by a counselor at Jersey City State College (now New Jersey City University), where he attended school.
“He directed me to computer science, and I didn’t even know what it was at the time,” Orrico said. “I’m thankful for that, because I ended up loving computers and spending my whole life with them.”
After graduating, still just a few years after leaving Brazil with very few belongings to his name, Orrico found himself in a rough financial spot.
Just when he needed it, he got an unexpected call. Orrico said he was surprised to learn that AT&T, a former New Jersey company, was offering him a computer programmer position.