Wednesday, October 24, 2007
How things changed
As I look back over my "career" since 1970 with some historical perspective, I see, indeed, how things changed, and how perspective on a career evolved.
I started out in defense, moved over to vendors and then to commercial financial applications. By the mid 1970s I saw that mainframe applications program was a whole "culture" of values -- perfectionism, and a higher than usual stable income but relatively few perks. The deal then was to "get IBM" and then it became, get IMS and CICS. By the late 1980s the minis were coming in, and then PC's, but it took until the 1990s for people to catch on to the concept of end-user driven computing. First they would do it with DOS and Windows 3.1 applications, and by later in the 90s (as java exploded into the market like a nova) the Internet.
It was no longer possible to make a good living as a "generalist" like it once had. You could "switch" to client-server from mainframe after Y2K but not specialize enough in anything to get another job. You needed to actually develop and implement something to really understand the technology; starting out in support would not be good enough. Then, if you took your retirement, you would find yourself at home, gathering together your skills, finding that vendors would almost give away something like Visual Studio and various SQL's, to see if you could build your own paradigm on your own and make yourself famous.
How quickly times changed.