It was 1985 when I went to work for ComputerLand (remember them?) selling personal computers. The PC had been around for only three years. It came standard with 256k of memory and either a 10mb or 20mb hard drive as an option. I remember somewhere around 1987 when IBM introduced the Model 512AT. The AT stood for “advanced technology.” It came standard with a 40mb hard drive. No one could believe they had that much power with a whopping 512K of memory. The thought of filling up a 40mb hard drive seemed impossible to do. When the first 1MB personal computer was introduced, we in the computer industry thought that was absurd.
A short time after that, we started networking computers together using Novell Network technology. You really needed an education to build a network. We were “certified Novell Network engineers.” It all seemed so technical. A dedicated server tucked away in a closet somewhere feeding all the other computers. Today, all computers in a network are capable of supplying and storing data for anyone else on the network if you desire.
By the early 90s, everyone had a computer. They became as common as buying a microwave. People no longer needed help in deciding which model to buy. Windows was well situated in the marketplace and so easy to use. Everything became “plug n’ play” and stores such as ComputerLand, MicroAge and Valcom began closing franchise locations like the world was ending. No one needed their assistance anymore and you could buy a personal computer at Sears.
I never dreamed that using a computer all day long would become a part of my daily life. Today, we add and remove computers from our network on a whim with no outside help. While we used to encourage people to back their systems up on to floppy disks, today it is all automated. Even having a separate drive to keep your automated backups on is common or people have “cloud” accounts that automatically backup all your data to the cloud.
On the flip side, when a computer crashes today, it can cripple a business. It is no longer some fancy accessory item but the tool that controls our rides, our scheduling, our accounting, our time management and document management. It is perhaps one of the greatest inventions in the business world in our lifetime. I am happy that my first career was in the computer business as it sure helps me today. I would be lost without my PC. — Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor
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