As the Odometer of Time flips to the year 2015, I have to stop and reflect back over the last 2 decades of my career life. 2015 will be the 20th year that I have worked in the field of IT. It was 1995 when my manager asked me about taking on the new role of Local Area Network Administrator. With the advent of “Computerization” in Manufacturing – network installations, servers, network connected pcs, hubs, printers, etc. – someone had to be the caretaker of the overall systems. I had previously worked in the Quality Control department and knew a little about spreadsheets (Lotus123), Work processors, (Word Perfect) and basic pc functions. I used these applications to crunch numbers and publish production and quality reports. My manager knew I had a genuine interest of computers and thought I would be a good fit. After taking the position, they sent me away to school. A few weeks in Mississippi to get the hang of Windows NT, User accounts, network shares, etc. A few weeks at Executrain in Atlanta to learn Word, Excel, Access, Advanced Sniffer and network training, and fiber optics at Global Knowledge. Over the years we were taught Peoplesoft, Oracle, and SAP, and Other applications used in our industry. All in an effort to support the end users and to advance the cause of “efficiency by computerization”.
The first years were a little mind boggling to say the least. There were 10 other LAN admins throughout the southeast – in the division I worked in. We met once or twice a year in Hot Springs Arkansas or Atlanta to do application training and share battle scars. On the home front, I first became interested in computers a few years earlier, maybe around 1992. My first home pc was a Coleco Adam 1 purchased from a local pawn shop. What drew me to this sweet little machine was the word processor, the game modules, and a small dot matrix printer. While the word processer was the main selling point to my wife, we both spent a good bit of time playing the Donkey Kong module. My next pc was a Tandy Color Computer a.k.a. Coco. I actually took up a bit of BASIC programming during this time. My wife was pretty frustrated with me on this one. I would actually write the applications on paper and hound my wife to type them in the computer for execution. She could (and still can) type a good bit faster than me. If I liked the code and wanted to save it, I had the trusty cassette tape recorder (a.k.a. hard drive) attached. But as you can imagine, that didn’t last too long.
Then … things got serious. I purchased an Emerson 286-16, 40 mb hard drive and 640k ram with a mouse and EGA monitor! Graphical User Interface had arrived in the Presley household! It was around that time I heard those words from AOL the very first time; “You’ve Got Mail”!
Back at the office, things were a bit more advanced with Dell and Compaq desktops with Intel 386s, running Windows 95. Our first servers were beefy HPs running Windows NT 3.51 with Intel 486 processors. As the millennium approached, upgrading to Windows 2000 across a company division was a major ordeal. And oh the scars of Y2K … But I digress… I do look back with fondness on this industry and the clear path I took to be where I am today. When people ask me “why” or “how” I got into IT, I simply tell them the truth. I fell into it and I didn’t dare climb out. Now my son has taken up the reins and has followed in his dad’s footsteps. He is approaching the 10 year mark for himself in this field.
I truly believe the most important component in IT is the people. My mentors were many, and they taught me to expect the unexpected and roll with the changes. The IT field is home to some of the best and brightest minds this country has to offer. The work they do behind the scenes is often unseen and unknown by the clients. But we take comfort in knowing our peers know what we do.
Over the last few weeks, as Christmas approached, I am often asked for my opinion on which pc someone should buy for their son or daughter, niece or nephew, husband or wife. They almost all say the same thing…. The main thing they need it for is word processing (school), web surfing, and games.
20 years from now, there will be some shiny new items we just can’t live without, and some of the things we depend on today will be obsolete. I predict, however, in 2035 Word Processing, Web surfing, and Games, in one form or another, will still be the big ticket items on the list of computer uses. Why? Because the more things change, the more they stay the same. Hey Michael J. Fox, it’s 2015 , where Are the HoverBoards???
Happy New Year!