back to article IT peeps, be warned: You'll soon be a museum exhibit

Telephone operator, please put me through to… What's that? You want me to address you by your first name? Well, that's jolly friendly. I'm (thinks quickly, decides to use Starbucks name) "Alex". And how should I call you? Right. Alexa, please put me through to… Yes, I said "put me though". You don't understand the question? It …

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Re: Back in the day

"They seemed amazed that when I was their age (early teens or just coming up to them) the Internet/WWW and mobile phones basically didn't exist for the common man (I'm mid-40's), we only had 3 or 4 channels on the TV, and if we wanted to change between them we had to get up and push a button."

And I bet if the Queen was on or whatever, your night was shot, too. To quote Jeff Foxworthy: "The President's on! He's on every channel! We're gonna miss Flipper!"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Back in the day

I don't feel particularly old - although the bathroom mirror disagrees.

In the early 1950s. One BBC channel TV. Shut-down at 6pm for an hour on Sunday so they weren't deterred from going to church. Final close-down at 10:30pm - with a cleric giving an "Epilogue" sermon. No morning programmes. No transistors - everything had to "warm up" and the valve heating took a large chunk of the required power.

Joined the computer industry ("IT" came much later) when the valved Deuce was still doing the payroll - and 3rd generation mainframes were just becoming available.

Interactive comms used 100bps Teletypes over 80-0-80 volt telegraph lines.

LED displays were still unknown. Nixie tubes were the advanced type of numeric display.

Still waiting for the VTOL big passenger planes promised by the children's "science" books looking towards the far future of the 1980s(?).

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Re: Back in the day

we have an ibm ide 20mb hdd in the storeroom. it still has a standard molex connector. we have ISA tseng labs gfx cards too. The IT teacher shows the students DOS running on his twin floppy no hard drive 286 laptop (the size of a briefcase)

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LDS
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"Some TVs & Radios had remotes in 1950s."

I had a B/W TV with a remote - it was a long cable with a push button at the end - you could switch between the two available channels... you just needed to ensure old grandma didn't trip over the cable... maybe that's the reason it didn't become common.

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Re: Back in the day

I'm pretty common and I had email (300 baud or 1200/75 depending on if Prestel, BBS or X25 PAD) from 1981

And I'm pretty sure that I had something that looked a lot like email on the various BBS's that I inhabited in the early '80s.

It didn't use the @ character and a message might take a week to get to the recipient (depending on the frequency of the BBS dialling the interchange points) but it mostly worked..

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Re: Back in the day

And the whole system cost about 10% more than an entry-level 5-series BMW, so EXPENSIVE!

But less likely to push a Honda C70 rider off the road..

Bitter? Moi?

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Windows

Re: Back in the day

And I'm pretty sure that I had something that looked a lot like email on the various BBS's that I inhabited in the early '80s.

That was FidoNet... And it wasn't just an e-mail system, it could send files too. Several very famous (At the time) BBS games (Door games) where international in nature, you could "attack" other servers running that game if they were on the Fido Network (or one of the clones). Attack notifications could take a day or two to come back to you though :)

/me = old BBS SysOp and old fart

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Terminator

I look forward to working...

For my pointy haired Robot overlords and would like them to note all the nursing of sick computers and electronics I have done over the years......

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404
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Terminator

Re: I look forward to working...

Oh they know... and they know we know, but watch your ass.

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Unhappy

Very true...

I thought when I was 8 years old back in the micro saturated 1980s, that I would spend my whole life playing with computers. So far I haven't done too badly, I'm still working in IT as I always wanted but I can see the end in sight off in the distance and have done for the last 5 years, especially the more I work on systems that vendors are baking into self-operating databases and systems. I can see that I might just about squeeze IT until I retire in 25 years time but it's getting harder and harder each year to see where my future lies with regards this career. I have my backup career building on the side and it's starting to turn some money in. Everyone should have a backup career option just in case. My mate, a developer for 25 years, he's learned a niche craft that he's hoping will see him past his retirement, he just needs a couple more years of dev contracts to stash the cash.

I told my daughter to keep away from IT as I said you're going to need 40-50 years of working life and trust me IT will become less and less reliant on fleshy meatbags to run it.

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Re: Very true...

"Everyone should have a backup career option just in case."

This is the best career advice anyone could give. Not only does it provide a backup to obsolescence, it enables you to escape the any frustrations that build up in your first career.

IT was my backup.

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Re: Very true...

Until you realize your backup's shot, too. It's hard to come up with a backup backup plan.

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Re: Very true...

"IT was my backup."

You poor sod. I pitty You.

IT was my backupb too.

Here, a pint for You.

Now, where do I find the icons, on this blasted mobile site?

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Re: Very true...

"Until you realize your backup's shot, too. It's hard to come up with a backup backup plan."

Very true. Actually IT was sort of the backup backup. The previous job was a stop-gap until I could get into what I really wanted to do but it just went on too long - about a dozen years too long. So when I ran out of IT it was time to retire.

When they talk about working life extending into the 70s or whatever it becomes a serious problem. I suspect there's nothing I'd have been able to stick for more than 20 years.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Very true...

IT was my backup plan, and, looking around the place at my last permanent job, felt my time was fast approaching - new hires were about half my age. No surprise then when I got tapped for "redundancy", at the age of 50.

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Re: Very true...

"No surprise then when I got tapped for "redundancy", at the age of 50."

Timing is everything. It was '86 when I switched into IT. You could do that in your 40s back then. It took me through to 2006 when it was time to really retire.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Very true...

>No surprise then when I got tapped for "redundancy", at the age of 50.

Yeah. Looked for a job recently (because work issues) and there is very, very little in IT for anyone over 40.

Unless you happen to be a senior manager or related to one.

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Devil

Re: Very true...

My "backup" plan is thus...

Learn every arcane, archaic, outmoded and ancient technology; Then charge an arm, a leg and a head to support it; There *ALWAYS* seems to be this crusty nasty chuck of technology in every large corporation that every one knows does something very very important, that everyone is too scared to go near!

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Re: Very true...

"... this crusty nasty chuck of technology in every large corporation that every one knows does something very very important"

A few years ago I visited a steelworks where they were overhauling a blast furnace and replacing its control system. The control system was so archaic that some elderly, supposedly retired, American specialist had to come over and tinker with it. And they ran the old control system and its replacement in parallel for a few months to be sure. They also documented all their work v carefully as at the time of the next overhaul, hopefully over a decade later, most of the local team would have retired too.

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Networking

Back in the day setting up a home network was a skill, having a proxy machine with a modem to dialup the ISP, then a properly terminated BNC cable (or RJ45 with a hub if you were loaded!) to each machine you wanted to share the dialup Internet connection on.

Nowadays you get posted a wireless router, plug it in, type your key and away you go.

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Pint

dial up days

I remember in the late 1990s someone in Oxford ran an ISP out of their house, and had rented 100 phone lines, each having an entry under his name in the Phone Book. He took up almost a whole page!

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Taxi for BOFHs

At my company, 5 BOFHs have been replaced by the Office 365 Admin Center (sic) and rightly so

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Re: Taxi for BOFHs

"5 BOFHs have been replaced"

Clearly not real BOFHs. A BOFH, like the cockroach will survive any catastrophe. Unlike the cockroach he'll cause cause the catastrophe in self-defence.

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I'm not convinced that a rotary dial isn't quicker..

To a number on my rotary phone I pick up the handset and dial. It rings immediately.

To do the same on my smartphone:

Press the button on the phone to wake it. Swipe to unlock, enter the pin (4 digits and enter),

Find the phone app, choose keypad, enter the number and press send.

Then wait while the phone registers, while it checks that it's got credit and does no end of lookups which take a full 10 seconds before the phone at the other end rings.

Ant then it sounds nowhere near as clear.

And this is progress?

But then my business does employ real, human operators to put calls through.

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Re: I'm not convinced that a rotary dial isn't quicker..

Yes, because you can call anyone, virtually anywhere (remember, you DON'T have to dial 1--for most of us, a call across the country is the same as a local call), and can keep a directory of hundreds of contacts IN YOUR HAND (so you don't even need to be near a phone book that may not have the entry you need), which are likely too many to memorize. Sure there are pitfalls, but do you REALLY need to be able to reach someone in two seconds or less (unless it's the emergency number, and THAT can be reached without a subscription)?

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Re: I'm not convinced that a rotary dial isn't quicker..

That's not the point.

The point is technology is supposed to be faster, time-saving, productive, and all that - yet it really isn't.

Something struck me right there - finding the phone 'APP'. Think about that. Your 'phone' needs an 'app' to make a call... Probably easier saying 'phone', than HandHeldComputingMessagingDiaryTalkingRadioTapePlayerTrackingDevice... Much easier to sell too.

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Re: I'm not convinced that a rotary dial isn't quicker..

"Press the button on the phone to wake it. Swipe to unlock, enter the pin (4 digits and enter),

Find the phone app, choose keypad, enter the number and press send.

Then wait while the phone registers, while it checks that it's got credit and does no end of lookups which take a full 10 seconds before the phone at the other end rings."

What?

Press button on phone which doubles as fingerprint reader.

Swipe to page with frequent contacts as buttons

Press button

Phone rings.

Not a frequent contact?

Press phone button.

Start to type name.

Press dial button

Phone rings.

In that time I would have dialed maybe three digits on a dial phone.

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Anonymous Coward

IT Managers have already been replaced

There aren't really IT managers any more. Oh, you have people with the title but most of them don't manage. They can't make decisions - unless in a group (it avoids any chance of someone being blamed for making a poor decision). And a lot of IT Managers no longer have IT skills - no wonder crap products are selected and projects go over-budget and overdue.

Suggestions please for the collective noun for a group of IT Managers? A flannel of IT Managers? A cacophony of IT Managers?

I gave up trying to find a job 2 years ago. I'm currently retraining in how to get a good tan. I could be a natural.....

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Re: IT Managers have already been replaced

"Suggestions please for the collective noun for a group of IT Managers?"

An excuse?

An error?

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Re: IT Managers have already been replaced

Oh, you have people with the title but most of them don't manage. They can't make decisions

In my experience - they can. What they can't do is get a budget to implement those decisions unless they want to get into the office politics games - at which point they cease to be IT managers and just become a specialised variant of salesbeing.

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Terminator

dystopia

Jeff Bezos envisions a future where he is the only person on the entire planet who has a job.

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Re: dystopia: Jeff Bezos

Curiously so to the three wise men at Alphabet, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and a few others.

Will it be like the Dune "Great Houses"? I hope they ban atomics first.

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Re: dystopia: Jeff Bezos

Only the Chosen People will have jobs

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Re: dystopia: Jeff Bezos

"Only the Chosen People will have jobs"

The jobs must flow!

Either that, or you are employing it wrong!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: dystopia: Jeff Bezos

"Only the Chosen People will have jobs"

E.M.Forster's short story "The Machine Stops" portrayed that world - except it appears no one had, or needed, a job.

He wrote about people spending their time living in one comfortable room - with all their meals supplied. Their chosen background music on demand - and a video terminal through which they could communicate with other people. They spent their days using the terminal to look at things other people had written about. Then they rehashed the information for publication in the same medium.

Occasionally they would take a walk outside.

He was very prescient when he wrote that in 1909.

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Re: dystopia: Jeff Bezos

"He was very prescient when he wrote that in 1909."

One question, though. What FEEDS this machine if no one is working?

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Joke

Re: dystopia: Jeff Bezos

"The jobs must flow!"

I thought he was buried?

Too soon?

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Re: dystopia: Jeff Bezos

"One question, though. What FEEDS this machine if no one is working?"

That's why it stopped. There was no one left who knew how to feed and care for it.

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Re: dystopia: Jeff Bezos

Ix will make fake jobs. Dont wory.

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Phone menu hell will always be the same

"Digitized moron"

That's Pulitzer material right there.

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Dabbs

Top form today!

Thanks.

BBC Transmitter engineers are gone. Such a shame. Most of the jobs or entire companies I've worked for are gone. In one case they closed entire R&D dept.

I bought my first copy of Byte and of PCW before there was an IBM PC.

PCW - 1978. No idea when I first got a copy.

IBM PC in N.I. UK = 1981

Byte launched in 1975. I first bought a copy of a UK edition of Byte, that had the Apple II on the cover. Was it 1978, 1978 or 1980?

I do still have a computer magazine with launch of Archimedes and a later one of UNIX launch for it. Perhaps Acorn User?

I'm about to dump my 1993 to 2004 collection of MS CDs and DVDs of Select/MSDN/TechNet. I dumped Microsoft December 2016, though I still have 2 x Win 10, 1 x Win 7, 2 x XP (games & Satellite TV) and 1 x Win2K (test gear controller) with multiboot to DOS /Win3.11/Win98 (for radio programming).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Dabbs

" I first bought a copy of a UK edition of Byte, that had the Apple II on the cover. Was it 1978, 1978 or 1980?"

I bought my Apple ][ from "New Bear"? in Newbury? on the last day of 8% vat for electronic products in June 1979. Cost the equivalent of £6k with its 5.25 floppy disk - but only black&white video. The killer app was Visicalc to track my expenses. The must-play games were "Breakout" and a space invaders derivative.

The Wikipedia history of the Apple ][ suggests they were available in the UK in 1979.

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Re: Dabbs

@Mage

BBC Transmitter engineers are gone. Such a shame.

reminds me of the follwing article - an interesting read...

The BBC PCM NICAM Story

BBCeng.info - Recollections of BBC engineering from 1922 to 1997

- that reference is courtesy of @Peter Galbavy who posted the link here

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Museum piece

The first system I supported as a fresh young thing at my current employer is now at The National Museum of Computing. I'm not aware of any plans that will see me follow....

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Re: Museum piece

PDP/8 ??

Had 3 or 4 of those hooked up to our Dec10 at Imperial. And a few PDP/11s too.

Intersil 6100, PDP/8 on a chip, used that to build a 100x100 pixel imaging device. Never did get it following the bubble chamber tracks (neutrino experiment from SLAC, more tracks than you could imagine. The HPD had fun with those)

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Re: Museum piece

"Intersil 6100, PDP/8 on a chip, used that to build a 100x100 pixel imaging device."

I had an eprom programmer that used a 6120 - a better PDP/8.

I quite liked the PDP/8, it was entertainingly bizarre. 6 bit encoding was fine if you either didn't want capitals or didn't want punctuation, and the instruction set was "look how little we can get away with and still do stuff." But in those days if you wanted a cheap but fast CPU that was easy to program and had serious arithmetic processing, the TMS9995 was a good bet. Another bizarre architecture and the eprom needed to be copied into static ram at boot to avoid wait states, but it certainly did the business.

But...

The first computer I ever got near (ICL1900) was older than the one in the Science Museum, and as I recall had only 5 hole punched tape. At least I didn't cut my teeth filing escapements on a Difference Engine.

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Rag and bone

Here in the North of England we have plenty of rag and bone men. They drive around call out "Ra un bon" and collecting scrap households leave out. Some even still use a horse and cart.

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Windows

Re: Rag and bone

Not just oop north either. I've heard one in Norwich, Bluebell Road area, near UEA, recently. However, he was letting the side down by shouting clearly. What happened to the incomprehensible cry of "badjaburr" that I remember from the '50s?

As a lab boy, I still remember hand punching headers, on 5 hole paper tapes, for a Ferranti Orion. My boss, who wrote our data analysis program in Extended Mercury Autocode, predicted that I would be replaced by a 'black box'. I decided that I should learn how to control black boxes.

I think that the future of IT professionals is analagous to the future of electromotive engineers at the start of the 20th century. Their industry has been commoditised.

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Meh

Whatever

Old man shakes fist at clouds.

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I think despite getting seriously older than i want to be now, and looking back on what we've all experienced (those who experienced the micro boom at the end of the 70s and before that), its been history, and great to have been a part of it. So many people live without riding the whirlwind of a revolution (technological,inustrial etc), and we have watched it from youth and will watch it to maturity. Sadly I think wetware will be the next revolution after i'm gone. But on the whole if there was a point in history to have lived for me this is it.

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