I can appreciate your frustration with your original salary and your perception someone might think a Masters isn't worth it, but I believe you may want to consider some other factors.
My experience (I'm currently a Smalltalk programmer)is that employers don't hand out raises like candy. You have to ask for a raise. In your case, you were hired in at too low of a level IMHO, but after you had proven yourself, were given a substantial raise. Obviously your boss thought you were worth more, but I'm guessing primarily due to your educational background. You have to be aggressive with your career, which means you ask for something if you think you deserve it. I'm glad to see you recognized your worth and got what you deserved.
Regarding the worth of a degree in the IT market, that all depends. I know several collegues who are making 100k + as contractors with no Masters. This is because of experience, not education.
A Masters will give you a good foundation, and perhaps give you more options, but the most valuable programmers, architects, etc. get that way from experience.
I'll get off my soap box now, and just want to say It's not as bad as you may think.
[This message has been edited by Ron Moddesette (edited August 03, 2000).]