Friday, July 10, 2009

My First Computer

It wasn’t a desktop. It wasn’t a laptop. It didn’t run Windows or OS/2, or even DOS.

It wasn’t a PC or a Mac.

My first computer was the size of a small refrigerator, and ran a proprietary operating system. We called it a distributed system. It was 1980, and it was born before its time.

This was long before ‘open’ systems even existed, and ‘proprietary’ was a very good thing. It was also in the days when customers ruled. Customer service was… well… everything in the IT business.

I worked in a customer service division where we answered customer calls, found errors, and fixed them. Yes, we actually fixed them. Imagine if you can (close your eyes and try) a call center than was manned with trained experts… people who actually knew what you were talking about… who didn’t read from a script… who spoke English as their first language… and worked in the US.

Yeah, the good old days.

Imagine that it was entirely up to the customer to decide when his problem was resolved.

So we needed computers to work on to find these problems and fix them. Initially we worked on terminals connected to a mainframe that ran programs to simulate the operating system. But before I get too techie… suffice it to say that it worked, but not all the time. Sometimes you just needed a real computer to test on.

The day they arrived it was like Christmas.

Our first computers were black, with a small display panel, and a single drawer for a large floppy disk. They had less than 2 megabytes of storage. Total. They were beautiful. I could sign up for machine time and have the computer all to myself.
Very cool.

This job had immediate satisfaction. Every day I solved problems. Every day I helped customers. The best part was… when I went home at the end of the day I was done until tomorrow. It may have been the best job ever.

Tell me abut your best corporate job or your first computer by posting a comment.


Anonymous said...

I too worked in a customer service organization. i remember the good old days. a customer called..... i answered the phone. "I want to speak to a technical person." the customer said. "speaking," I replied. "No, you don't understand Miss, I want to speak to a TECHNICAL person!" said the client. "I am a technical person." I responded. "Listen here, young lady. You don't seem to understand. I WANT TO SPEAK TO A T E C H N I C A L person!" he said in a very agitated manner. "Sir'" I said calmly, "I am a technical person." "You can't be," he said. "You are a woman!" "Yes, sir." I replied. "I was when I checked in the shower this morning!" The good old days.. when people thought that women only answered the phone! Give him kudos though.... he phoned back to apologize after I'd solved his problem!

Firefly said...

Ahhh yes... good point! I have some stories to share about being a woman in a technical role too! More to come in future posts!