Forty years of forward thinking


Forty years of forward thinking

I was returning this afternoon from visiting a client of mine in Dublin, where he works, when I thought I might stop at the Applegreen for a break.

While having a coffee I received the above picture via WhatsApp and felt that it was probably a good time to jot down a few words on the iPad and upload using Applegreen’s Wi-fi connection.

Jim has always been one to embrace change and realise that the future involved technology, he even took me to lunch on my first day 15 years ago in an electric car.

Jim decided to purchase Northern Ireland’s first home computer used by Hambro back in 1979. You can see from the picture it was a thing of beauty(?) and it probably required quite a steep learning curve and a forklift to move it.

Back then Windows was probably only an embryo of an idea for Bill Gates, as at that stage he’d only founded Microsoft computers some 4 years earlier. I’m sure that everything was DOS based (I still don’t understand how that works).

Jim is pictured with John McGrann who both provided Jim with the equipment then, and the memento of the occasion today.

We take technology for granted and if your kids are like mine they become unbearable if they’re not snap face chatting or Instadoodling pictures of their food.

Back in 1979, Jim’s computer boasted 120k of memory and everything had to be saved on a floppy drive each holding a huge 250K of data. The picture of John and Jim above wouldn’t fit on that floppy.

Jacquard JPS-01-J500 Videocomputer

A quick Google search turned up the manual and in the first paragraph it says:

“The J500 is a general purpose computer system with a 16- bit word length. The central processor is organized around four accumulators, two of which can be used as index registers. This accumulator/index register organization provides ease in programming and greater efficiency both in time and memory use”.

I’m not sure what all that means in our “Hey Siri” world.

Even the internet didn’t start up until 1983, before becoming available to all in 1991. You’re probably all replicating the modem noise when it was connecting as you read this.

Jim had however realised that as the first one at Hambro, where he worked, owning a computer would give him a real advantage with record keeping and remaining in touch with his clients, a true pioneer. Cutting edge technology has somewhat dropped in price as the £10,000 price tag then is the equivalent of £35,000 today!

Things have come along way since then but we still strive to find new ways of communicating. I imagine that in 2059 people will wonder how difficult and quirky it was in 2019. Thanks again to John for reminding us of how Jim brought us into the modern age.

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