. .
. Kisco Home : An IT Retrospective - 50 Years in the Business .
. In all these years--as I've moved from the IBM 1401/1410/7010 to the IBM 360, IBM 370, IBM System/32, IBM System/34, IBM System/36, IBM AS/400/iSeries/i5/Power i--I have often thought about these early years and the excellent base of knowledge that I had to work from. A lot has changed over the years, especially in complexity. But, a lot has remained the same, too. That early application that I worked on with indexed-sequential file formats still embodies the essence of the file access method in use today. When I'm working on a coding problem today, I often try to think about what's really going on at the machine level and find that this approach will frequently give me the solution to the apparent problem that I'm working with.

Some Observations
Looking at the IT industry today from this fifty-year perspective, I see things that some people may miss. For starters, it seems in this business "what goes around, comes around." Over the years, I've seen the pendulum swing back and forth on centralized processing versus decentralized processing. There will be a big push come along to centralize and control processing followed not long by another strong push to decentralize. Other hot issues regularly come along that fall into this category.

Another observation I have is that "programming is programming." I've learned and implemented in a lot of different languages. In each case, the result was normally a successful project implementation and the choice of programming language often ended up being fairly unimportant. The problems associated with creating and maintaining programs are much the same no matter the programming environment that you choose to implement.

The biggest change from my perspective has been the advent of global networking. This change is huge in its impact and will continue to grow as more and more network connections become available. A few years ago, I decided that because of the global network, I could move my business anywhere I wanted to; and I did, moving to a remote part of upstate New York. I work in a small office, but am in constant contact with all of my customers just because of the global network.

When I started in business, most communications took place by phone and our software orders generally came in the mail. With the proliferation of fax technology in the 1980s, orders shifted to arriving by fax most of the time. When the world-wide-web became prevalent in the mid-1990s, communications shifted again to a Web site and email. Today, most of my end user communication is via email with an occasional phone call. We receive orders via a Web site and ship software via email. Now, with generally good wireless technology, I can make my office quite portable and travel. My customers don't know that I'm anywhere but at the office slaving over their support requests.

The biggest challenge over these 50 years is to keep current. Mostly, this means staying on top of whatever is popular at the moment and understanding it. Too often, I've seen IT professionals get stuck at a particular point in time and not be able to adapt to the next wave of change that comes along. That it a death sentence to a career. Sometimes, all this means is that you're able to understand the latest wave a jargon. I can't tell you the number of times that someone has hit me with a new buzzword and when I admit ignorance, I find out that it is just another name of something that has been around since the year of the flood. For me, I read a lot to keep current. With the availability of information via the global network these days, there is no excuse for not being able to keep current.

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