Our first family business was called Computer Control Corporation and we started selling desktop machines which were monstrously heavy. I became very stong but frequently wished I had been in the Snack business instead. The way you saved your work was with 5 ¼ inch floppy disks. It always puzzled me that they were sold in inches rather than centimetres but I guess in those days everything was imported.
What exciting times we had moved into.
My first desktop computer ran on DOS (Disk Operating System) and the very first accounting programme I learned was Turbocash which was a DOS based programme. Imagine the excitement of being able to use a computer to produce accounts and not have to depend on a calculator to add columns of figures. The problem of course is that if you put garbage into the programme you get garbage out.
Typing letters and creating spreadsheets became so much easier with Wordperfect and other Lotus 1-2-3 Office Suite. Secretaries and bookkeepers who embraced these technologies and were willing to learn became much in demand. No more messy Typex trying to correct typos.
My second business venture in the late 1980’s (you will see that I love starting businesses because everything excites me) was called Applied Intelligence. I offered administration and secretarial services to small businesses.
Working as a temp contracts administrator for a Construction Company I was tasked with setting up computer systems for them. I was sent on my very first computer course which I loved. Given an enormous office I was left to my own devices to create these systems using the software programme that I had learned. What magic I could create. I was in heaven.
The floppy disks we used to back up got a bit smaller and were now called 3.5 inch stiffies. Piles and piles of these little black squares started cluttering up our workspace. Sometimes they were carefully labelled but when we were in a hurry a scrawl with a permanent marker would hopefully remind us what they contained.
Our computers crashed frequently and though many people were jumping on the “computer bandwagon” and claimed to be computer hardware and software experts I think they frequently broke more than they fixed. Although not an electronics technician myself I learned to open up the big box and wiggle a few wires with the best of them. Sometimes a bit of brute force and ignorance worked … more often it didn’t.
Sometime around 1990 along came Bill Gates and Microsoft Windows. No more DOS. This was the big league. We had colour on our monitors and little pictures they called icons. Together with Windows came the cutest little tool called a Mouse which of course is still around to day. I am definitely old school in this regard. Even with my laptop I insist on having a separate Mouse instead of using the built in mouse touchpad.
Although invented in the 1960s by Bill English, then the chief engineer at SRI, Mouse - http://www.sri.com/work/timeline/computer-mouseit only became part of end user computing with the advent of Windows. Using the mouse we could click on the little icons and programmes would magically open. What a beautiful sight.
The technology bug had bitten me hard.