My career trajectory was greatly impacted by being exposed to the Open Solaris project when I was in college, and then WordPress and jQuery carried me through my earlier years in the community - so I’m always interested in knowing what projects did that for others who dedicate their time to open source development.
In 2006 I wrote a server in perl that was designed to receive events and then emit data on established HTTP connections, to create a form of server-to-client push-messaging to support FT.com’s live market commentary feature. The technique was dubbed “comet” at the time but later got standardised as Server-Sent-Events.
We open sourced the server (on Google Code) and called it Meteor, but as the technology was more widely adopted better solutions came along - including Fastly’s own Fanout service.
It’s now a great example of internet rot: The FT no longer does Markets Live, the Meteor codebase died with Google Code, and the domain name is now used, bizarrely, by a Japanese cosmetics and supplements company.
I think my first proper involvement in open source was working on Mozilla’s Open Badges team, I’d used a ton of open source software obvs but this was my first time contributing iirc. The experience of seeing how they worked in the open and in such a distributed way still informs the way I work now! It was a truly global community with folk all over the place.
My favourite thing that came out of it was a local project where we taught young people a bit about tech by helping them learn how to use open source software to collaborate on art and activist projects.