I Never Intended

Ian’s story is similar to many of the early days of computing…

I never intended to have a career in IT. Indeed if you’d told me when I left school that I’d end up working with computers I’d have laughed at you because – much to the despair of my civil engineer father – I had the mathematical ability of a daffodil!

However, in 1983 my first job after graduating in business studies was with the management services team of a local authority which had a newly installed word processing system. This was in fact a Wang VS80 – a mini-computer and quite an advanced one for its time – being the new boy and having admitted to learning to program COBOL, via punched cards, at polytechnic I got the job of looking after it. The rest as they say is history.

What strikes me almost 40 years on is how efficiently systems back then used the hardware. The VS supported a dozen workstations yet had a mere 512K of memory, eked out by 32K on each terminal allowing a document to be downloaded and worked on with minimal load on the CPU. Disk storage was 75MB with 15MB removable platters for archiving and backups. Obviously all of this was green screen and text only, but even so when you look at today’s multi-gigabyte PCs and phones it’s tempting to ask where we went wrong.

Ian Barker FIAP