Technology – then and now.

Looking back at over 30+years in the profession, it is fascinating to see how the technology has evolved over that time.

I remember when I was under articles (as it was quaintly called) that we weren’t allowed to use the one armed bandit type adding machines until we had passed our intermediate exams (no one seemed to be too concerned about costings and efficiancies in those days!). Whilst it might take longer to add up a column of figures – at least we learned how to add up a column of figures!.

I was on audit when I came accross, at a client, my first electronic calculator – big thing it was, about the size of DAB radio – and my colleagues and I spent many a happy hour seeing how it divided and multiplied (time budgets – what were those?).

It was in 1982 that I introduced our first computer to my fathers practice. This was after much heated discussion on why we should actually need one of these contraptions – I honestly can’t recall what my justification was at the time – and the result was my father saying that I could get one but he wanted nothing to do with it.

It was an Olivetti 3030 – the size of a desk and with a floppy disk as big as a dinner plate – but it did the job and we were soon producing our first sets of accounts – avoiding the need for accounts typists and all the other, now antiquated processes involved in compiling a set of accounts.

Our first PC’s had a massive capacity of 20 megabytes and very happily operated on Microsoft DOS (which is a shortened acronym for “Quick and Dirty Operating System”) and we used Word Perfect for our word processing and Lotus 123 for spreadsheets.

I remember the discussions at the time about the move to Windows and what that would involve. I had someone working for me who dealt with our Payrolls and administration and who had been a comptometer operator. Her keyboard speeds were so quick that the Windows operating system couldn’t keep up with her and there were many occasions that the system crashed as a result.

And from then on the growth has been exponential. The technology that we take for granted today would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. The extraordinary (and in some respects slightly frighteneing) growth in Internet use has changed the face of accounting beyond belief.

I suppose the arguments about cloud computing are not disismilar with the discussions I had with my now late Father when I first suggested getting a computer. I knew it would be more efficient but how do you prove that to someone who couldnt grasp the concept in the first place.

I wonder what the next 30 years will bring?

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One Response

  1. It’s a conundrum – hard to understand how machines will get much smaller and still be usable while we need a keyoard, a mouse and a screen. What about using light as opposed to wires and wireless for the pc and its peripherals? Light based keyboards, heads up displays, position sensitive mouse equivalent powered by transmitters based in the desk surface (or any surface). Convergence is another route; as the iPhone combines a number of the toys we all carry in one, will the pc basics be miniaturised so we can carry them in our top pockets and all data held in the Cloud. Plug into the nearest light port and off we go. Mind, us accountants will still need printers!

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