How Far We've Come


The first computer I ever laid hands on was at my high school. It was essentially a smart (for a typewriter) teletype machine. I could type in programs (BASIC) and it would type responses loudly back. I have no idea who made it.

Whoever turned the thing on would load the OS from the following storage format: punched rolls of brown adding-machine tape. One could also write to adding-machine tape to store a program. It's true.

At college, of course, by 1980, things were vastly different. Programs were written on stacks of punched cards, not rolls of paper, and computer science majors would walk around with shoeboxes full of punched cards (don't drop 'em!) and lug them down to the computer center to submit. I think the computer was a Univax, though that may have come later. I was not a computer science major.

Within a year or two, terminals had taken over and programs could be written and jobs submitted from a variety of computer rooms across campus. But users still got their output by going to the print center, where printers the size of refrgerators would spit out nearly endless streams of perforated "greenbar" reports. Students with work-study jobs would then cut the output into individual reports with big metal rulers and leave them on racks, ordered by user name.

If you found that your program generated an error, you threw the paper away and went back to find a new terminal to fix your program. At my college newspaper, we found this provided a rich supply of free typing paper.

Solution providers harness change and execute on new technology naturally, and have been key in bringing about the stunning changes we've all witnessed. So in this new year, be bold, or as Bob Faletra would say, "Make something happen." Then feel free to crow about it a little on ChannelWeb.

Best of the Week

If you're looking for some ideas on where to begin, go no further than CRN and VARBusiness. CRN's Outlook 2002 lays out twenty of the technologies, trends, people and companies that'll be making thing happen in 2002. Meanwhile, VARBusiness' Stories of the Year takes a look a how events in 2001 illuminate the next few steps this year.

Outlook, Live

We're trying something new ourselves next week, when we present a live netseminar on the results of CRN's Outlook 2002 research. Dr. John Roberts and analysts from Merrill Lynch will present exclusive research on the business and technology trends that will shape 2002, as well as discuss issues with our live Web audience. It takes place Thursday, Jan. 10, at 2 p.m. EST, 11A.M. PST, and you can sign up now at www.digevent.com/events/outlook2002.html.

Happy New Year!