Making the Computer Part of Business, was a Big Mistake

This seemed logical, back in the Eighties, when it happened. I know, because I was there.

I was an Electronic Engineer at the time, which was about vacuum tubes – and the first computers had many vacuum tubes. And the first computers were analog devices – I took a course on them when I went to the University of Illinois in the Fifties. They consisted of modules that performed mathematical operations – and you plugged these modules together, using flexible wires, such as those used in telephone switchboards – to solve linear mathematical equations – such as (A + B) C – which could also include differentiation and integration (Calculus operations).

The professors watched carefully to make sure you got all the wiring right – you had wires going all over the place. They did not have courses on digital computers at the time – because they didn’t feel comfortable with them.

And to this day, most people do not understand digital processing. I tried to explain them to my brother, who was a lawyer, and used computers all the time – as all lawyers do now. But he could not understand my careful explanation. It gave him a bad case of future shock. He is not alone, lots of people don’t understand them, and don’t want to understand them. It is creating a new world – but they do not want to go there.

I now return to the Eighties, when it became apparent that the computer was important. We knew nothing about it – but it was attracting a lot of money. And we knew how to follow the money. Like every gold rush, it attracted all kinds of people – especially the worst kinds.

Business had been immoral, but computers made it even more immoral. It put all that power at their disposal! I only survived by moving to Costa Rica.

Now that I am here – with a fast Internet connection – I am getting a new understanding of what computers really are – and how they should be used. They can be used to make money – but money is not everything. You have heard this plenty of times, I know, but computer enthusiasts really mean it.

I will now concentrate on software, the brains of the computer. Software enthusiasts sometimes call themselves geeks. They get their emotional rewards from making software better. And they have been responsible for some big improvements.

It is worth remarking, at this point, that these geeks are only a small percentage of the population – but they are making a huge difference. Lots of businesses are feeding off of them – usually without giving them credit.

As I already said – business is immoral. And making the computer part of Business (with a capital B) did it no good.


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