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 …

  1. Alan J. Wylie Silver badge

    20W50

    In between various programming and sysadmin jobs, I worked for a couple of years measuring the viscosity of 20W50 engine oils. I wonder how long before that trade vanishes?

    The crankshaft and camshaft grinders I used to write the control software for will be gone too, soon.

    1. Alan J. Wylie Silver badge

      Re: 20W50

      P.S. Just reading the squid mailing lists and another thought struck. With HTTPS becoming more and more common, caching forward proxies will become less and less useful.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "caching forward proxies will become less and less useful."

        They just become very useful to snoop into encrypted traffic...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 20W50

      I thought 20W50 only existed to pour into cars with knackered seals to sell / trade / partex them on, the viscosity hiding a multitude of mechanical sins?

      (At least until the bugger seizes / won't start / gets the next oil change service)

      1. Ahab Returns

        Re: 20W50

        Still fit it to my 45 year old MG - mind you, it does seem to come out of every orifice known to the A series. I wonder if there is a 50W50?

        1. EastFinchleyite

          Re: 20W50

          As you say 20W50 was the stock oil for A and B series engines. The oil pump on the B series is easy to change but on the A series it is a bugger being behind the flywheel. Solution: a pint or so of straight SAE 90 gear oil to thicken the engine oil a bit to get the pressure up. Make sure the little green light goes out then sell it.

          The skilled occupation of fraudulent s/h car trader may not have disappeared but it has changed.

        2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: 20W50

          Still fit it to my 45 year old MG - mind you, it does seem to come out of every orifice known to the A series

          Must be a different A series to that in t'missus' Moggie Minor. It's yet to display any signs of oil incontinence and only gets a top-up at the yearly service.

          And it's only a year younger than me. Admittedly, it gets fondled more than I do..

      2. Chemical Bob
        Boffin

        Re: I thought 20W50 only existed to pour into cars with knackered seals

        No, that's 50 weight.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: I thought 20W50 only existed to pour into cars with knackered seals

          with regards to squid, peek and slice works quite well. our domain has issued a domain truated cert to the squid box which happily man in the middles https. obvuously this is well written into the agreements (the actual agreements that the school will monitor all network traffic was writtennin from the first network which was nice )

          so caching proxies are still useful even in https days providing your users are made aware of course.

  2. Teiwaz Silver badge

    Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

    When I started learning IT at school, a lot of attention was paid to punch cards, kimball tags and other almost obsolete tech which I saw hide nor hair of when I reached work a year or two later.

    Come to think, most IT learning is chasing things heading toward obsolescence in the vague hope of jumping on and getting paid for a short while before it's trashed in favour of something else you know nothing about.

    repeat until dead...

    It's no wonder a lot of IT bods are increasingly in favour of a slow-down, if not total Neo-Luddism,

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

      It's no wonder a lot of IT bods are increasingly in favour of a slow-down

      I think that's partly because the same stuff keeps coming back, just in a different wrapper with a new brand name, rather like Opal Fruits - and a wide-eyed innocent new generation believe they're the first to have experienced the wonders of Starburst. Computers may look different these days - just as your TV no longer comes in a large floor-standing teak-veneered cabinet - but they're still mostly doing the same things, just faster: it's just that the teenagers who seem to be in charge of them, like all teenagers, want to have their own private language.

      1. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

        Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

        But even with TVs there is now no benefit to having skills and knowledge of their internal workings unless you work for the likes of Sony or LG - there are no more repair shops on the high street.

        Your TV blows you don't take it in for a new valve, you throw it in a skip and nip down to the only electronics retailer in the retail park for a shiny new 50" OLED (or whatever the latest fad is)

        Similar with PCs, they slow down people don't ask you to install more RAM or reinstall Windows ME (why did every Packard Bell seem to have this mess?), they throw them in the skip and buy an iPad.

        1. Steve Kerr

          Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

          Actually, my plasma TV died a few weeks ago.

          Found a bloke (looks a retired electrial engineer) up the road that fixed it for £100 including parts.

          As good as new!

          So, thought I would have to take it to recyling but turns out it was a short on the Y board and Panasonic sell a repair kit.

          Very nice, helpful, bloke too.

          1. LeahroyNake Bronze badge

            Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

            Plasma screens. I fixed one a few years ago it had 3 separate power boards with large heavy heat sinks and a shed load of caps on each one. They had paid over £2000 for it and it had been on 12 hours a day for 4 ish years in a pub. £100 for the board and 6 of us to lift it back on to the mounting bracket. They don't build them like that anymore and I think it's still working !

        2. Colin Critch

          Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

          I still do a tear-down just encase I can fix it.

    2. muddysteve

      Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

      "When I started learning IT at school, a lot of attention was paid to punch cards, kimball tags and other almost obsolete tech which I saw hide nor hair of when I reached work a year or two later."

      When I started work, my first COBOL programs were on punched card. I even produced one with a hand punch, because the data prep department was busy.

      You got one compilation run a day in those times.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

        "You got one compilation run a day in those times."

        You were hard done by. We got 3. You were even harder donw by. We used FORTRAN.

      2. BostonEddie

        Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

        When I trained on a IBM360 Mark 1965, complete with a card sorter, mag tape storage and, I do believe a thundering 256K of RAM, I obtained a Certificate of Competence on the IBM 026 Keypunch Duplicator. Whadda thrill that was.

        Then there were the weather map machines, fascinating technology involving chemically treated paper, a spinning glass cylinder, an IP26 PMT, various tone activates relays to set the drum sped, and several SAMOS earth satellites. Oh, and a modem eventually upgraded to 1200 baud. My piece of the action was still tube technology.

      3. BostonEddie

        Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

        COBOL? That new fashioned thing? I trained on IBM languages Autocoder and Snoball

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

          I trained on IBM languages Autocoder and Snoball

          Some of the IBM S/370 TPF code that I herded in the early 90's was written about the same time I was being born..

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

          COBOL? That new fashioned thing? I trained on IBM languages Autocoder and Snoball

          Autocoder does predate all the still-used HLLs; it had some influence on FORTRAN and COBOL (as Grace Hopper wrote the seminal paper on "autocoding" in '55, though ultimately COBOL was far more influenced by Hopper's own FLOW-MATIC).

          Autocoder is an assembly language rather than an HLL, of course.

          SNOBOL (one L), on the other hand, is younger than COBOL - as you might guess from the name. SNOBOL was invented in '62, three years after CODASYL released the COBOL specification, and two years after the first implementations appeared.

          I played with SNOBOL myself many years later (sometime in the '80s; I don't recall on what system), and it's a cute language for string processing. Its use of CFGs rather than regular expressions for its pattern type makes for generally more-readable code. Formally the "extended" regular expressions most languages have these days are just as powerful, but CFGs are more expressive and less terse. But ed begat grep, grep begat awk, awk begat Perl, and their progeny multiply and overrun the land.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

      At school I thought that identifying a winchester disk would be something that would need to be a regular skill.

      Or how to DTP a newsletter in ClarisWorks (is DTP even a thing anymore?)

      Or even in my spare time that knowing the Windows for Workgroups 3.11 installer like the back of my hand would somehow pay off. By the time I reached full time grad employment it was the eve of the Vista era.

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

        Or how to DTP a newsletter in ClarisWorks (is DTP even a thing anymore?)

        ClarisWorks?? Hah, *luxuuury*!

        I used to do DTP in PFS:FirstPublisher. I even found a copy of a Worldcon bid flyer (Midadlanticon) I did some 30 years ago.

    4. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

      When I started learning IT at school

      My school didn't buy its first computer until the year after I left. It reportedly took them a full year before anyone knew what to do with it, educationally speaking.

      1. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

        My school didn't buy its first computer until the year after I left.

        We had one, a DEC PDP 11/20 (here seen providing auxiliary output.

        1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

          I repaired Teletype ASR33s as a part time job when I was at school.

          They were a marvelous collection of clutches, cams, springs and levers. Serial binary data in, printed pages out. Like a laser printer, only noisier, no graphics and yellow paper...

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

        My school didn't buy its first computer until the year after I left

        Mine had a link to the Barnet Council Burroughs mainframe - but I didn't get to use it because I didn't do the IT A level (becuase I hadn't done the O level - even me pointing out that I built my first computer at age 12 and was programming in hex[1] thereafter didn't get me into the A level).

        However, I did get to use the BBC Micro machines that our forward-looking maths teacher had bought out of her budget and installed at the back of her classroom. Out of lesson hours, they were free for any pupil to muck about with.

        Which is why the first pre-assembled computer I bought[2] was a BBC Micro. Followed by buying a Watford ADFS board and sideways RAM/ROM card (which I then upgraded with a read/write switch to cope with those pesky ROM images that would try to self-corrupt..).

        [1] No assembler - we didn't buy the Zeap Assembler until later. Before then it was hand-assembly all the way. Good old Nascom 1.

        [2] Technically, my parents bought it. But it was mine dammit! And I paid[3] for the scorchingly-fast 12/75 non-autodial modem that I used to run up my parents phone bill by making calls to the Almac BBS in Scotland..

        [3] Well, *technically* my brother bought it since he worked for a GEC company at the time. But he didn't seem to ever use it so it ended up as mine. Possession and 9/10ths and all that.

    5. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

      Been there, done that.

      Come to think, most IT learning is chasing things heading toward obsolescence

      Looking back over 44 years of coding and related things, there has been a lot of learning, but also a lot of forgetting. Mainly detail stuff. I can no longer remember the commands for various IBM MVS SORT statements, but I don't think I ever could. I had a card (still in a drawer somewhere) that reminded me. Ditto the syntax of Fortran IV. But I'm still coding.

      The things that matter are not the details. It's the ability to analyse problems, design clear solutions, develop test strategies and persuade users to reveal what they are actually trying to achieve, rather than what they think they want/need (cf. earlier article this week on wanting a Print button)

      Those are the skills I learning in the 1970s, and I'm still using them today. Teaching people to code is one thing, but it's just scratching the surface of the job skills.

    6. Tim Hines

      Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

      The very CDC 6600 I used to work on is on display in the Science Museum. I feel old... oh bugger I AM old.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Starting on the Museum exhibits, ending on them.

        I feel old... oh bugger I AM old

        You are only as old as the appropriate-other person that you feel. Which, given that she's two years older than me is old[1]..

        [1] She's older than me but in considerablely better condition. It's not the age, it's the milage..

  3. Khaptain Silver badge

    Dont worry

    There is one job that will exist as long as people are allowed to users conmputers, The Hell Desk.

    The BOFH and the PFY will always be in demand due to the fact the (l)users will never arrive at a level of intelligence/rational thought that they should have possessed before being allowed to interact with a keyboard.

  4. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

    I've been working for the same company for nearly 30 years (how time flies when you're being told that you're supposed to be having fun). When I first started, they'd made a huge investment in kit and staff for capturing documents to microfilm for long term storage.

    I'm willing to bet hardly anyone we've employed during the last decade or two gives a flying fig (or even knows) what microfilm is.

    1. PPK
      Happy

      Archive

      Long term archive is a big thing in the broadcast video/audio arena. A good role for the 'mature' engineer can be keeping alive old broadcast kit - 1" tybe B/C reel to reel machines, Umatics, analogue Beta, so that years of material can be digitised.

      The funniest thing is that 'tape is dead' has been the mantra for quite a few years, so everything has been archived to files - the US Library of Congress standardised on lightly compressed (J2K) video with uncompressed audio, with harddisks as the storage medium. But most projects I've worked on have archived the files to... tape.

      So every <x> years or so, as the LTO5/6/99 drives start to wear out, and the MXF file format becomes the preserve of the keepers of ancient lore, it'll be time to flip it all forwards again - like Majikthise and Vroomfondel, on the gravy train for life! Until someone loses the sugarcube sized multi Exabyte diamond storage down the back of their cyber sofa...

      1. H in The Hague Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Archive

        "Until someone loses the sugarcube sized multi Exabyte diamond storage"

        Ah, that'll be holographic storage, been around the corner for as long as I can remember, bit like a practical fusion reactor. Though I think microfluidics are making a comeback after four decades. Speaking of fluids, here's one for the weekend.

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: holographic storage

          Unlike magnetic bubble memory which actually made it into some military products. I wonder what archive life is and how small/capacity and fast it can be? Flash isn't archival, but certainly seriously beats bubble memory on speed and capacity.

          I expect commercial fusion power stations before we see consumer holographic storage or proper performance VR with focus & movement tracking of eyes as well as head.

        2. Jan 0

          Re: Archive

          Oh YES! Never mind my flying car, when can I run my house with a compact fluidic computer?

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: Archive

            we have a circa 1997 rewriteable CD and a burnt CD at work. it gets fired up once every 6 months or so to see if we can extract from it. It has a zip file full of data files and we are curious as to the lifespan. they both still work. The original unit was a HP 6read 2 write burner and the cds are also both HP brand.

            we also have an ide 20mb 3.5" ibm branded hdd. we used to fire that up but cant be bothered any longer. im sure we can waffle together ide to usb but until we get a new apprentice we probably wont bother.

            1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

              Re: Archive

              we have a circa 1997 rewriteable CD and a burnt CD at work

              I suspect that your media was one of the earlier metal-foil based one rather than the later (cheaper) dye-based ones.

              The metal foil based CD-R's are still used for archival purposes. The dye-based ones are not because they often have less than five years of useful lifespan. Which is not too bad for a car-use music CD but is pretty crappy for data that you want to be able to read after 20 years.

      2. Mage Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Archive

        And re-writeable CDs / DVDs last less time than a passed around C15 tape for a spectrum.

      3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        Re: Archive

        Until someone loses the sugarcube sized multi Exabyte diamond storage down the back of their cyber sofa...

        Or worse - has a peckish moment and accidentally fries the long-term DNA-based storage cube in order to eat with their toast.

        I love the taste of data in the morning.

    2. Joe Harrison Silver badge

      The best use for microfilm (or microfiche as we used to call it when it arrived in postcard-sized sheets instead of reels) was night-shift entertainment. For some reason it seemed really cool to fish failed-test microchips out of the reject bin, saw the top off with a Stanley knife, then if you put them under the fiche reader you could actually see all the registers and gubbins in the chip just like on the hacker movies.

      Well we didn't have hacker movies in those days so perhaps we thought we were 007.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "For some reason it seemed really cool to fish failed-test microchips out of the reject bin, saw the top off with a Stanley knife, then if you put them under the fiche reader you could actually see all the registers and gubbins in the chip just like on the hacker movies."

        Stuff the movies, this was real life:

        We had a new IED control board in for examination. As per normal the IDs were scratched off the ICss. Our resident electronics guy was pretty good at working out what they were from the surrounding circuitry (usually 74 series TTL plus 555s). But on this device there was also one of those ICs in a little metal can. That was a bit of an unknown. We cut the top off the can then I set up the big Zeiss microscope for incident illumination and read the part number straight off the die. I remembered seeing it advertised in WW. The complete operation if the device was analysed in about an hour.

      2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        microfilm (or microfiche as we used to call it when it arrived in postcard-sized sheets instead of reels)

        And let us not forget microcard - microfilm printed onto cardstock, and read with a reflective reader. The US Federal Government supplied a lot of material to archival libraries in that fashion. I read many pages of it during one of my stints in graduate school.

        The stuff I was reading was ephemera, things like DoD pamphlets for civilian employees. No real records or major publications. It's possible they only used microcard for that sort of less-critical stuff.

    3. BostonEddie

      When I worked at the Worcester (MA) public library they were just beginning to convert the old magazines into microfilm. Also they used a system with vacuum powered carriers to transfer call slips into the sealed stacks where we pages would retrieve them and bring the books to the main desk

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        the Worcester (MA) public library

        I patronized that institution as a child. That would have been up through the age of 6, I think. Still have a few fond memories of the place, though.

  5. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Trollface

    Round goes the wheel...

    Yes, for the people who do things, there will always be different things to do. If you want centuries-long stability in your job, join (just you try) the "extractors of value" set. See also, management, sales and marketing, nobility etc., etc.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Round goes the wheel...

      Nobility mostly went bust when Industrialisation and imported food & cloth killed ability of their Estates to make money from agriculture (mostly wool, which is why eradicating wolves was seen as so important and the "woolsack" in Parliament).

      Managers, Politicians, senior civil service...

  6. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge
    Windows

    Strangely enough

    There still seems to be a residual demand for COBOL programmers.

    Not that I can remember much about it. Or anything else, for that matter.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Strangely enough

      I remember that leaving the full stop off the end of the first line in an otherwise perfect 500-line COBOL program would produce a 500-entry error report forty minutes later.

      1. MiguelC Silver badge

        Re: COBOL error handling

        I remember once in my first work in a bank's IT department a room filled with 90+ developers, typing silently (as silently as those wonderful keyboards allowed us to be) when suddenly we hear a really loud and prolonged "Fuuuuck!"

        Everyone turns to the new guy, who's turning bright red by then.

        His compilation had just produced over 4000 errors and he thought he'd have to rewrite his program from scratch... I think he was as embarrassed about his loud expletive as for the public explanation he got from our manager about the error count.

        From the on we would hear, day in day off, someone muttering the prolonged fuuuuck after something was awkward, had really gone bad, or just because.

        1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: COBOL error handling

          Not COBOL - usually SQL - but cheering when you have slain a difficult bug is also sometimes embarrassing in a work room of colleague who really ought to be sympathetic.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Strangely enough

        " a 500-entry error report forty minutes later."

        It was a pity Unix was still some way into the future. Compilers really needed to filter error reports through head.

  7. Potemkine! Silver badge

    What job will last forever

    Lawyer

    Hitman

    Insurer

    Banker

    I see a trend here: it could be any job based on a special sense of morality.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What job will last forever

      Hooker.

      Policeman.

      Manager.

      1. Potemkine! Silver badge

        Re: What job will last forever

        Amazing, still fits!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: What job will last forever

        "Hooker. Policeman. Manager."

        Hooker = sex robot (now)

        Policeman = patrol robot (now)

        Manager = decision maker analysing large data (now)

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Thumb Down

          Re: What job will last forever

          Manager - computer says no...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: What job will last forever

          Hookerbots will need to get much better to be anything other than a niche fetish.

          We all saw ED 209, police bots are still a while away from usable

          Managers will always find other managers to manage, even after no work is actually possible due to the heat death of the universe.

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: What job will last forever

            Fluffer.

            1. Tim99 Silver badge

              Re: What job will last forever

              Fluffer: Apparently, not since Viagra.

          2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

            Re: What job will last forever

            @AC

            police bots are still a while away from usable

            Nah,

            1. Has it moved?

            2. Shoot it.

            3. Play mp3 of 'Stop. Armed Police.'

            Job done - those can replace most US cops.

          3. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: What job will last forever

            Any demand for Ed 209 Hooker bots?

            Rather niche, and it'd be the Ed 209 Hooker bots doing the demanding.

            .....hanging around street corners in short leather mini-skirts chewing gum.....

            1. IPFreely
              Happy

              Re: What job will last forever

              Re ED 209 bots - at least I'd be able to "comply" within 30 seconds :-)

              I'm here all week.

      3. Adam 52 Silver badge

        Re: What job will last forever

        Policeman, in the traditional sense, is going in the UK. It is being replaced by two new roles - muscle bound, taser wielding stormtrooper with an IQ of about eighty and form filling, quota chasing, jobsworth bureaucrat.

    2. I am the liquor

      Re: What job will last forever

      Accountants and train drivers are two more occupations that must have some sort of special automation-proof magic in them, otherwise surely they'd have been automated out of existence decades ago.

      1. J J Carter Silver badge

        Re: What job will last forever

        Aslef has prevented driver-less trains, they nearly kept the Guard too!

      2. Ben Bonsall

        Re: What job will last forever

        Accountants were automated out of a job years ago, but they are really good a lobbying the government to keep the tax and accounting rules changing often enough to ensure that the people who write the automation are always several steps behind and so need a trained lobbist to make sure it's doing it's job...

        1. JEDIDIAH
          Devil

          Re: What job will last forever

          Unless your taxes can be sent in on a post card, they are too complicated for a machine. The rules are just a little too complex and subtle. It's a bit like law.

          In the US you need a post-doc degree to be a tax lawyer.

          It's not about keeping the accountants employed. It's about keeping billionaire campaign donors happy.

          1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

            Re: What job will last forever

            The tax software lobby ensures that tax laws remain complex in the US. Most other countries have virtually automated the process, either via PAYE or prefilled online returns.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: What job will last forever

              "The tax software lobby ensures that tax laws remain complex in the US..."

              Ever tried filing forms in the uk where that prefilled stuff doesn't work? eg. foreign income, no residence, small entity accounts, tax avoidance schemes :D

      3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: What job will last forever

        "Accountants and train drivers are two more occupations that must have some sort of special automation-proof magic in them,"

        Unions in the case of train drivers. Knowing where the money REALLY goes in the case of accountants.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Lawyer [...]"

    Three out of the four are already being deskilled by IT. They are predicted to be early AI targets too.

    Vicars and priests will be replaced by kiosks and auto-generated online sermons to congregations. A sermon is usually just an extrapolation of passage from the Bible.

    Only the hitman remains a viable career - although their modus operandi might involve remote hacking of someone's self-driving car or house automation.

    In a sci-fi story whose name I forget - everything is automated except the human job of a hairdresser.

    1. mordac

      Only the hitman remains a viable career

      Drone

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Impossible to use a drone on the QT. You want it done quickly and quietly, you really need a professional.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "You want it done quickly and quietly, you really need a professional."

          IIRC There was a film with the most unlikely casting of Eric Sykes as a professional hitman doing the jobs very efficiently as plausible accidents. IMDB is not helpful in pinpointing the film.

          1. grumpyoldeyore

            RE Eric Sykes plays a Hitman

            Griffen in the liquidator ?

            http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0059390/characters/nm0843059?ref_=ttfc_fc_cl_t7

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: RE Eric Sykes plays a Hitman

              "Griffen in the liquidator ?"

              Very probably. I had discounted that originally because I couldn't see anything to confirm the cold threatening nature of the character. Thanks for that quote.

              I also (mis)remembered it as a tribute programme clip from a b&w film. That didn't seem to match the lighter tone of the colour film suggested by the IMBD poster image for "The Liquidator".

  9. PPK
    Pint

    Fax of life

    Bravo Alex, I'm out of triple mocha caramel machiattofrappeballs, have one of these instead --->

    Oh, and "Fax machine repair engineer" - they've all moved to Japan, fax is still deemed a sensible way of moving documents with signatures there. As per the On Call today, flip phones are still a big thing, and they even still sell those little plastic electronic dictionaries in Yodabashi Camera.

    1. Goldmember

      Re: Fax of life

      You'd be surprised at how prevalent fax machines are in certain Western industries as well. Most independent hotels, for example, still use faxes to send and receive credit card info and invoices for business travel.

      Things do indeed move quickly, but there will always be dinosaur companies, and even whole industries, who are a decade or more behind the curve.

      1. Nunyabiznes

        Re: Fax of life

        Over here medical offices still require hard copy for most everything they do. So printers and faxes (and the people to keep them running) will be around for awhile.

        Maybe we will get real reform in the medical arena sometime and that can be one of the actual cost-saving moves.

  10. Alistair Dabbs

    Channel Tunnel cabling

    Last night I was chatting with the karate instructor at my local gym. Now retired, he entertained me with stories of his working days installing network cabling along the Channel Tunnel, among other places. But "network" could mean anything back then. Even in an office, you had to choose from Token Ring, Netware, etc. He described to me some pretty beefy cables with massive dual connectors costing £7 each ... which he duly quoted on and had accepted before finding a supplier in Germany who could sell (the required) hundreds of them to him directly for £4 a pop. These were 1980s prices.

  11. DougS Silver badge

    Rotary dials

    You can buy pulse to DTMF converters so you can use old school rotary phones even on your VOIP phones (though why VOIP ATAs can't add support for pulse dialing I don't understand, it would take one guy an afternoon)

    I'm kind of thinking about stealing the old green princess phone my parents still have in their basement sometime and get one of those converters just to freak out millennial visitors who would be shocked not only by a "landline" but wondering how you access the contact list :)

    1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

      Re: Rotary dials

      I'm pretty sure you can buy rotary phones that send DTMF (to go next to your bluetooth enabled gramophone).

      1. DougS Silver badge

        "modern" rotary phones that send DTMF

        I think you're missing the point if you want to use a rotary dial phone built in the 2000s...unless you like stuff built out of cheap plastic that will stop working after a few years.

    2. Ben Bonsall

      Re: Rotary dials

      The contact list is stored in a little black box next to the phone that looks a lot like an iphone with a simulation of a card index running on it..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Rotary dials

        Surely the paper based data recall system. Or "phone book" to give it its proper name.

        It was very useful when you could get free the ones for your neighbouring boroughs. Became ( for us,certainly) useless once they stopped that. Because they went by London Boroughs, not postal districts. We have a London postcode and don't go anywhere near the Borough centre, let alone know or call anyone there. But they refused to provide a London phone book. Oh no, we had to have the useless borough one, full of postcodes and phone numbers we didn't even recognise. Which went straight to recycling. They would not even give it as an alternative. So we had to get numbers online.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Rotary dials

          "So we had to get numbers online."

          I am surprised these days if I can find someone's number online. It used to be only a few who chose to be ex-directory. With the increase in mobiles and non-BT landline contracts very few people are listed. The BT paper copy is a waste of time - it has physically shrunk to the point where a microscope is almost needed to read the entries. I bookmarked the BIT online directory page - trying to find it in their web pages is tricky.

          The various directory enquiry services have become very expensive. Not just the pay by the minute to make the enquiry - but apparently a surcharge per minute if they then connect you to the number.

    3. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Rotary dials

      You can even buy the parts and breadboard a rotatary to DTMF. A pi or old laptop with serial port (sense a handshake line) can do it. Even easier if old laptop has a built in modem (AT D command).

      Some exchanges and ATAs do still support pulse dialing.

      Two analogue phones (any kind) and a 6V battery all in series makes an intercom. We used top & bottom wire of a fence when we were kids.

  12. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
    Trollface

    Back in the day

    I recall a conversation I had with my kids a few weeks back, as one of them was doing "modern history" at school.

    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.

    Also when I was at university (25 years or so ago) I can remember the first 1GB hard drive appearing in the building, and when I wrote my PhD thesis (in LaTeX and CorelDraw) the whole thing fitted on two floppy disks. Kinda sobering to consider that I have more storage and processing capacity about my person as I type this than we had in the whole department back in the day.

    Christ I feel old now, so get off my damn lawn, young whippersnappers!

    1. Nial

      Re: Back in the day

      " I can remember the first 1GB hard drive appearing in the building"

      I remember one of the software engineers in the first company I worked for getting an _800MB_ hard drive. I was amazed and thought you'd be able to store your whole life's work on such a beast!

      1. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: Back in the day

        an _800MB_ hard drive. I was amazed and thought you'd be able to store your whole life's work on such a beast!

        I bought a 500MB SCSI drive, in 1995, for video and animation work, thinking that it would be enough last me for the full MTBF lifetime of the drive. Now I couldn't even fit my music collection on something that size.

        1. muddysteve

          Re: Back in the day

          In the 80s, the company I worked for set up a multi-user data prep system It ran on an IBM AT PC (with a 286 processor), had a 20 (yes, twenty) MB hard disk, and supported 6 users. If you told the kids today that they wouldn't know what you were talking about, let alone believe it.

        2. JEDIDIAH
          Linux

          Re: Back in the day

          > I bought a 500MB SCSI drive, in 1995, for video and animation work, thinking that it would be enough last me for the full MTBF lifetime of the drive. Now I couldn't even fit my music collection on something that size.

          Forget about now. Just a couple of years after that I had multiple classes of multimedia data that would not fit on a mere half gig. Music was just one example. That ship sailed a long time ago.

      2. Kobus Botes
        Boffin

        Re: Back in the day

        @Nial

        The first PC I specced (in 1985) was for an IBM XT PC (XT indicating that it came with a hard drive, rather than two floppy drives). The standard disk was a wopping 5MB - I had it upgraded to 10MB (the cost was prohibitive).

        When one of the senior directors wanted to know whether it was sufficient, my answer was that we would not be able to fill it in our lifetimes (given that floppies were 256KB and the operating system (DOS 1) plus all the programs (Multimate, Lotus-123, Harvard Graphics) took up less than 2MB). Lotus-123 spreadsheets typically ran below 10KB, as did Multimate files, so yeah - plenty of storage.

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

        1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          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?

      3. Nunyabiznes

        Re: Back in the day

        I installed the first hard drive in a pc (IBM XT) for a company. An RLL-MFM(?) 10mb! I think they came in 5mb sizes earlier than that even (Edit - Kobus confirmed that). I should have used a lifting belt for that thing.

      4. JEDIDIAH
        Linux

        Re: Back in the day

        By the time 1G hard drives came out, there was more than enough user data to fill them up with. I archived stuff on CD's in those days.

      5. Tim Hines

        Re: Back in the day

        I remember paying £600 to upgrade the 10Mb hard drive in my "portable"* computer to a 40Mb one...

        * Olivetti M21 weighing 30lbs

    2. Colin Wilson 2

      Re: Back in the day

      " 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."

      Ah - a youngster then!. We only had two channels. If we wanted to change between them we had to get up and turn a bakerlite knob to one of the two positions.

      We also had to get up and thump the side of the thing sometimes - to stop it scrolling

    3. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Back in the day

      Some TVs & Radios had remotes in 1950s. One 1930s USA Radio had a WIRELESS connected dial to select a preset radio station.

      I'm pretty common and I had email (300 baud or 1200/75 depending on if Prestel, BBS or X25 PAD) from 1981 on CP/M. By 1987 using an account to get access to Telex, Fax and Bitnet email from a PCW8256 with 300 baud modem. Fax replies were posted to me by physical mail.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "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.

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        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..

        1. Long John Brass Silver badge
          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

    4. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Back in the day

      Handful o' cold gravel for breakfast...

      1GB, 800MB? 500MB? Eee, you were lucky!

      When I was at University, learning to code in the mid 70s, they had these massive de-mountable disk packs which, if I remember rightly, had a capacity of 2MB each! You needed special permission to use them.

      I remember paying £250 for a 256MB hard drive.

      I found an old PC magazine from about 1982 a few years ago, and worked out that if a machine had been available then with the spec of my laptop at the time, it would have cost about £50 million - in 1982 money! Lord knows how much my present phone would have set you back!

    5. Charles 9 Silver badge

      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!"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        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(?).

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          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)

  13. Fading Silver badge
    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......

    1. 404 Silver badge
      Terminator

      Re: I look forward to working...

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

  14. FuzzyWuzzys Silver badge
    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.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      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.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Very true...

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

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

            1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              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.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              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.

              1. Long John Brass Silver badge
                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!

                1. H in The Hague Silver badge

                  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.

      2. Marcelo Rodrigues

        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?

  15. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

    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.

  16. peterm3
    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!

  17. J J Carter Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Taxi for BOFHs

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

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      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.

  18. Simon Rockman

    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.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      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)?

      1. 404 Silver badge

        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.

    2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      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.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    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.....

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: IT Managers have already been replaced

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

      An excuse?

      An error?

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      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.

  20. IGnatius T Foobar
    Terminator

    dystopia

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

    1. Mage Silver badge

      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.

      1. J J Carter Silver badge

        Re: dystopia: Jeff Bezos

        Only the Chosen People will have jobs

        1. Marcelo Rodrigues

          Re: dystopia: Jeff Bezos

          "Only the Chosen People will have jobs"

          The jobs must flow!

          Either that, or you are employing it wrong!

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
            Joke

            Re: dystopia: Jeff Bezos

            "The jobs must flow!"

            I thought he was buried?

            Too soon?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          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.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            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?

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              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.

              1. Danny 14 Silver badge

                Re: dystopia: Jeff Bezos

                Ix will make fake jobs. Dont wory.

  21. ecofeco Silver badge

    Phone menu hell will always be the same

    "Digitized moron"

    That's Pulitzer material right there.

  22. Mage Silver badge

    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).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      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.

    2. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      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

  23. davemcwish

    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....

    1. Mike Pellatt

      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)

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        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.

  24. Mateus109

    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.

    1. Jan 0
      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.

  25. JustWondering
    Meh

    Whatever

    Old man shakes fist at clouds.

  26. fluffybunnyuk

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " 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."

      An elderly neighbour born in 1914 lived until she was 99. She remembered the excitement of primitive aircraft flying overhead. Broadcast radio was also a new invention when she was a child. Electricity gradually replaced gas lighting in the home.

      She learned to drive a car when you didn't need a licence - or at least there was no driving test. Someone's autobiography describes their father buying a car on a visit to London. The showroom mechanic took him for a short drive to teach him the principles. The man then drove home. He arrived with both running boards attached by rope - the result of several mishaps en route.

      1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        She learned to drive a car when you didn't need a licence - or at least there was no driving test.

        My wifes grandfather got his driving license at 15 during WW1. The local doctor needed a driver and all the able-bodied men were away or doing Important Stuff[1]

        His test consisted of the local constable watching him drive round the town square.

        [1] This being Cornwall, Important Stuff == mining, fishing or farming. Because he was a nice middle-class lad (his father owned a shop), he didn't qualify for any of those.

  27. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Windows

    All

    my career of wrangling robots has to do is last 7 more years and I'm home free

    However all you people looking back with misty eyed nolstalgia at the '60s, '70s '80s and thinking how much better it was.. it wasn't....... IT back then was crap, how many of us learned assembly code because the langauges of the time ran slower than a dead slug stuck in treacle

    Oh exciting shiny computer time... with a screen res of 256/192 .. sheesh thats less than a desktop icon today.. lets get 1 black blob to hit another black blob, get the computer to make a buzzing noise and call it space trek or something.

    I learned my trade on hand controlled machinery, lathes and mills etc, as soon as I found out someone had attatched a computer to one and got the computer to do all the work I was out of the hand twirling nonsense and off into robot land where I could sit in a nice warm office telling the robots what to do and not stuck on an oily smelly factory floor getting covered in shite (at least that was the plan... it hasn't quite worked out like that)

    Technology changes all the time.... bet theres still some cavemen complaining about this new fangled thing call 'fire' and how it was better in the old days before we had it

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All

      "[...] IT back then was crap, [...]"

      It was subjectively exciting. The dopamine rush on achieving the "impossible" is a universal human reward.

      What many of us youngsters didn't realise was that we were often pioneers. If our boss gave us a job to do - we would ask how to do it. To which the effective answer was that no one had done it before - so you'll have to work it out for yourself.

      Being in computer development allowed plenty of scope for treating the latest massive mainframe as your personal toy. Wow! - a whole 1MB of store.

      As technical support we bridged the gap between the System/Application programmers and the hardware engineers. We knew our way round both silos. That depth of experience gave us an uncommon grasp of how IT works at all levels.

      I can still get that rush from an Arduino project - needing similar skills to my early mainframes and my prior teenage radio/electronics hobby.

      I also get that same high when sculpting human likenesses in clay. There is a lot of similarity in the ups and downs of both creative projects - except you can't checkpoint clay against disasters as you progress. A colleague once remarked that I write software like someone modelling in clay - probably what is called DevOps nowadays.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: All

      how many of us learned assembly code because the langauges (sic) of the time ran slower than a dead slug stuck in treacle

      Yep. Even as an amateur coder in the 80s I needed to use 6502 Assembler to make stuff work reasonably well. And that included rewriting some educational software that had cost real money, but that was written in BBC Basic, to make it more usable.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: All

        university had me using a 6502 to write my name on an oscilloscope. then you designed traffic lights systems on them and switching boards for fake assembly lines. PLC design almosy.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All Technology is Ironic if you Wait Long Enough

    The first video played on MTV, in August 1981, was "Video Killed the Radio Star," by The Buggles. The duo are now reputedly working on a musical entitled "The Robot Sings."

  29. CentralCoasty
    Trollface

    Forever job?

    SAP ABAP or BASIS?

    Almost guaranteed job for life!

  30. Muscleguy Silver badge

    Coopers still exist, up here in Scotland anyway. The Water of Life is still, by law, matured in wooden barrels for at least 3 years in Scotland in order to be called Scotch Whisky. That means we need people who can for eg put knocked down barrels imported from the US bourbon houses back together again. To replace a stave, refit a heated hoop.

    Being a thrifty nation little whisky (note the spelling) is matured in new wood. For people who make wooden barrels from scratch you need the US where the law says the whiskey (sp) must be matured in new wood. A law noted by Scotch Whisky producers. Grants, who make Glenfiddich, own an oak forest in the Ozarks, they rent the barrels to the bourbon houses then import them impregnated with bourbon.

    I'm a part time woodworker and I'm just about tooled up to make a barrel. I could use a compass plane but wooden coopering planes are cheaper and still around. I have matched pairs of tongue and groove wooden planes. Much more pleasant work than feeding wood into a wirring, roaring machine you have to wear ear defenders for.

    1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      The Water of Life is still, by law, matured in wooden barrels

      Same applies for other 'traditional' spirits (Calvados et. al.). I've no idea if it hold for the abomination[1] that they drink in the US though..

      [1] They call it "sippin' whiskey" cos only a fool takes more than a sip before moving on to proper whisky made from malted barley..

    2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

      import them impregnated with bourbon

      Quite a lot of Spanish barrels get imported too - some very nice whisky comes out of barrels formerly used for sherry..

      (The Englsih Whisky company does some. Far, far too potable for something that costs £35-£45 a bottle.)

  31. Dave559 Bronze badge

    Hot metal type

    If HoTMetaL type is your thing, I recommend seeing the film “The Post”, which, in addition to wetware, also features a lot of scenes of the hardware end of newspaper production as well, leading and all!

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