The History of Computers as I know it

The History of Computers as I know it

 That was a surprise.

Seventy year-old coaching two thirty-somethings on Internet marketing.

I thought they knew this stuff.

Not a strategy meeting. A how-to-use-the-tools meeting.

SEO, AdWords, pay-per-click, Google analytics, Webmail services.

Social media marketing. Facebook, Linkedin Twitter.

Not chatting, selling!

They’re engineers too. Why am I so smart?

Because they’re fascinated by products and processes, not management and marketing.

And they just bought the company.

Oh dear.

“You engineers put everything into a spread sheet.” Worked for me.

Learned faith in numbers, value of analysis.

But neglecting management & marketing is a formula for failure.

More coaching required.

These young people take technology for granted.

Texting, mobile apps, share it on Snap Chat, look it up on Google, wireless Internet everywhere.

Devices always on, interrupting everything.

When I grew up ….

New technology was fuzzy black & white going to bright colour TV.

Writing and calculating were done with pen and paper. Ball point was a new technology.

“Look it up” meant a trip to the library.

It was the 50’s. We played outside.

Computers were used by the military. IBM was a typewriter company.

Graduated from engineering with a slide rule. (You can Google it.)

Introduced to computers through a glass window behind the data entry counter. Flashing red and green lights, spinning tape reels. Don’t drop that deck of key-punch cards.

MBA School allowed electronic calculators. Not in exams, that would be cheating.

Computing on the job meant a terminal and modem in the office.

Magical mainframe UNIVAC 1108 in Los Angeles. Input by punched paper tape.

Results printed locally later.


1970’s: Massive main-frames became mini-computers & micro-computers.

Hello HP, Data General, Digital Equipment, Control Data & IBM.

Networks. Data processing & MIS.

Software applications, programmers & developers for accounting, inventory management, payroll.

New jargon & acronyms: DBMS, MIS, MRP, LAN, ERP.

Welcome to AES Data. We invented word-processing. (“No you didn’t, we AES datadid,” said Wang.)

Big Canadian success story: 2000 employees. Complete system for only $20,000. Very impressive.

It didn’t last. Look out for the PC, WordStar & Word Perfect.

What is this beige box with a keyboard called Apple?

Goodbye multi-million dollar UNIVAC in Los Angeles.

That’s awesome. And fun!

Welcome to the IBM PC & Invasion of the Clones.

Good bye AES Data. RIP.

On to my own business. In computers. Retailers on every corner.

Computers on every desktop.

Riding the wave from Zero to $20 million in eight years.

Now this is fun.

New technology keeps on coming. What’s a FAX? Who needs a mobile phone?

OK, I’m sold. Overnight Faxes on the floor are annoying.

But it works, let’s do it too.

Let’s try a car phone.

Big & ugly attached to the centre console, mic on the sun visor, battery in the trunk. Very handy.

Only $2800. (Now it’s sleek, small, hands free and smarter than me. And only $200.)

Marketing in the 80’s: cut and paste, print at Kwik Kopy, stuff envelopes, send Faxes.

Desktop publishing. Look at the cool graphics! And different fonts! What’s a font?

From Engineer to copywriter and ad agency.

Not pretty. But easy, cheap & it works.

Now it’s e-mail. And SPAM. Fewer faxes. More viruses.

And the evolution continues.

So do the mistakes.

Amateurs doing it ugly & ineffective. Still easy & cheap.

Professionals & big boys with big budgets do it better.

Winning more hearts and minds. And wallets.

But we can be quick and creative.

Beat the big gorillas with better guerilla tactics.

Not just outrageous & attention getting.

Be interesting & appealing.

Sorry, went from story teller back to consultant.

Still trying to help those young engineers.


Copyright November 2016

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