That Was Now...This is Then: Reader Anecdotes

NWC readers share their thoughts on which technologies, people and companies have impacted their lives over the past few years, and in some case, still do.

January 10, 2004

6 Min Read
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New Additions: 1/23/04

Virginia Kavan:

Although I now support Windows 2000 servers and several enterprise-wide applications, I began my data processing career back in 1977 - working with a number of IBM mainframe operating systems (OS/VS1 before multiple virtual machines or multiple logical partitions were available; eventually supporting MVS/ESA and VM/ESA in various capacities. My primary application support was VM host-based email; word processing; and spreadsheet support - all delivered from a single "server". Working with applications such as OfficeVision; understanding system performance and resource management provided a solid foundation for transitioning my skills to supporting Windows 2000 servers in my organization.

Douglas A Ward:

I am rather hesitant to say it, but the Netscape/Microsoft war stimulated my reassurgance from a Fortran dead end in college to a new career...HTML got me warmed up, and then Pre-Net ASP created a career. And now the CSS and JavaScript convergence of Netscape/Mozilla and Internet Explorer promises the ultimate "use anywhere" GUI.Whatever you decide to use for the backend, the front end belongs to everyone. It is kind of a visual "esparanto" whose universal vocabulary is graphics and page link placement. I can maneuver through websites in any language.Mike Hollander, Editor; Racing Information Systems; former DS1, U.S. Navy:

In 1969, I was working on the AN/CP-788GYK with .5k of core memory and a Friden Flexowriter/papertape reader as an I/O device when I began to read about a computer that would include both the arithmetic and control units in a single chip. That was the microprocessor. Oh, if I'd only bought stock in Intel. In any event, that computer used a combination of pushing front panel buttons for a "1" and leaving them alone for a "0" to cause the machine to activate the incoming data from the paper tape reader. There were only seven binary instructions, but we had a name for it. We called it "bootstrapping" the computer. Even by hand, that machine "booted" much faster than anything from Redmond.
In 1979, I signed up to become an information provider to "Micronet," later renamed to CompuServe Interactive. My first home page for motor sports was RIS-1. If you've got an old CompuServe sign-up kit, you'll find that page number, or our later HOM-110, used as the example for how to get information. We left CompuServe late in 2003 and our information is now available online exclusively at

Johnnie Ray:

Glad to see some other old coots out there besides me! How come no one has mentioned the TRS-80 (in any of its versions), the Coleco ADAM, ATARI, TI-99/4A, or Osborne I? From the more professional side: what about PROFS (Professional Office System), IDMS (Cullinane/Cullinet), TOTAL7, Datacom, or Work-10?

Nick Catanese:
Micom Communications -- they could pump an elephant down a 56K link and still have room for just another voice line. In my mind they were the pioneers of practical and affordable voice and data muxing. Nortel now ownes their remains...a moment of silence (with injected noise)...

Ken Graham:

What about the Xerox Star, the windowing hardware/operating system pioneered by Xerox PARC that was ripped off by Apple for the Lisa and Mac, just before Apple sued Microsoft for ripping them off.

New Additions: 12/16/2004 David A. Foster:

I have survived damn near everything. From paper tape and punched cards to super small nano memroy devices. Bring on the future.

Alice Parker:

In 1986-87, I remember hearing about a new multitasking operating system being jointly developed by IBM and Microsoft. What a concept - performing multiple tasks at the same time on one computer! I paid $8,500 for a computer that would guarantee me compatibility with this new OS. Although OS/2 or Warp are really of little consequence now, it was a harbinger of things to come years later in the form of Windows 2000 and XP!

Greg Martin:
Banyan VINES - the first global naming service allowing security integrated into all services (mail, 3270 access, file & print, etc)

Ralph Hulslander:

One of my first computers was the Timex Sinclair 1000.Sinclair(?) was making quite a stir introducing a computer for less than $100.00

Erik de Ruijter:

What impacted my connectivity most in the years prior to 1996 was Fidonet, I think. It made the good-old 'BBS' grow beyond local limits, and reached towards a low-tech building block of the later popularity of Internet. Being a Fido 'point', for years I even had an Internet e-mail and Usenet participation through this channel long before Internet PPP access was affordable. And believe me, e-mailing only once a day to both Fidonet and Internet addresses was enough - why have INSTANT e-mail replies and INSTANT messaging?Dan Kwitchen:

From 1972 to 1978, I worked for a company called Industrial Nucleonics, Inc in Columbus, OH (later renamed Accuray, then bought by Combustion Engineering, who was, later, bought by ABB Group (Asea Brown Boveri).

In October 1976 we started a project to build a complete new paper industry control system (hardware and software).

We incorporated the following new techniques in search of the best and most reliable Software system ever produced.

1. For the first time, we used the IBM Programmer Productivity recommendations (HIPO (Hierarchial Input Process Output) charts, Chief Programmer team, Peer Review, Modularity, Structured Programming, and phased testing from the Top - Down).2. We implemented a new Mini Computer from Honeywell (the Level 6, wonderful!) with a new realtime operating system. We were the first users of this computer and had our own software representatives working with Honeywell during its development.

3. We used new cross programming tools on a Honeywell Multics Super Computer system (which also ran the business side of the company).

4. The programming team organized in mid October 1976 and started setting up procedures and standards to implement the IBM Programmer Productivity methods and all associated techniques that we would use. Then we went through designing every facet of the software system. Then in APRIL 1977, we started coding!!! The entire system was completed in August 1977 and the first nine (9) systems shipped the next month. After shipment, one coding error was discovered, prior to any system being installed, and corrected by the next day.

Over the next months (and years), only a handful of errors were encountered. This was a result of the methods, peer review, and testing that were followed without exception. Oh yes, and we had a great team of programming talent.

Now this story wouldn't be complete without mentioning that this system, the AccuRay 1180 Micro is still in production and used all over the world.David Blomberg:

Linus Torvalds, Linux, SuSE. I have been working with Linux for the last few years and this year it has really taken off. I switched to primarily Linux after Windows 2000 came up short on its promises of security. This last year Linux has proven much more than Windows to me in areas of Security, Stability and performance. I am no longer hedging the bets with MS technologies its Linux from now on.

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