10/20/2016

Early Adopter of Computers 35 Years Ago


The other day, my wife and I were talking in the car.  I mentioned that my family had the first version of IBM PC, before it was MS-DOS, it was called PC-DOS.

So I told her the story of how Microsoft licensed it's software to IBM.  MS didn't actually write it though, instead, they acquired it quite cheap.  And how that was probably the biggest strategic business maneuvering of our lifetime.

When I first got on a computer, at age 14, we didn't have hard drives or a mouse.  Just dual floppy disks, a keyboard, color monitor, Epson printer, and a 1200 baud modem.  

Back then, I would call up the BBS and page the Sysop, download software and games.  

Although the Commodore 64 was out and the kid up the street had an Apple, and the TRS-80 at school, IBM was cutting edge back then.

So why didn't you major in computers in college my wife asked.

Well, I sort of majored in Business for 2 years.  After being "undecided" around Junior year, they said you need to pick a major so you can graduate.

I had so many Anthropology credits, that I only needed a few more Anthro classes to graduate.  Although I was just shy of a Minor in Business.

The reason I didn't major in computers was this: in high school all I did was play tennis and do enough school work to get A's and B's.  Reason being, my education sort of suffered after moving to Florida.  As not one teacher realized that I could solve the Rubik's cube in a minute, or could speak for that matter.  And lastly, I never thought for a second about growing up and getting a job after college.

It wasn't until I got into the workforce and found programming as an occupation, that the career starting to improve exponentially. 

I said to my wife, a lot of people with similar backgrounds of early access to programming and / or growing up in an IBM family, went on to build companies and become millionaires.  So in that regard, not sure what happened.  

I said, my personal opinion, the area in which I worked had back office jobs that may have had an IT department, that my have needed some programs maintained or reports created.  There wasn't much new development.

Also, the newer technology didn't float to where I was and although I tried to learn the new stuff, the jobs and projects just weren't there.  

So it could have been all those years of "maintenance programming" as well as "location".

I said to the wife, that I've been programming since 1982, almost 35 years.  I was lucky to learn at a young age, on original IBM PC, which is now in the Smithsonian.  

And in 1990, I had a laptop the size of a suitcase with orange color screen and weighed 40-50 pounds.  After that, I had IBM 286, 486 and on and on.

Where are we now?  Well, soon we'll have hybrid people with embedded digital devices, artificial intelligence in the mainstream, automation of everyday activities, 3-D printing everyday items, flying cars and delivery drones.  Is that good or bad?  

Well, for one thing, the quality of service would become more standardized, and we wouldn't have people give preferential treatment based on bias, special favors or ignorance.  Maybe even some accountability.

And services will get faster.  And we'll have audit trails.  And personalized service.  And business activity 24/7, not just 9-5.  And perhaps more interaction with people across the globe.  Maybe use some technology to cure diseases or benefit humanity.

Technology is finding it's second wind.  As am I.  

I was there 35 years ago, in the office upstairs, typing away on that IBM home computer, at the very beginning of the technology movement.  How lucky is that? 

And that's the history of computers through the eyes of an ex-tennis playing Anthropologist turned Loan Underwriter, Programmer & Data Professional Consultant.

Thanks for your time~!

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