Software, it’s around us every day, to the point that we take it for granted. Having started in I.T. in the early 90’s, “information systems” was the wild-wild west and we were the gunslingers. Every few months we saw the release of new applications and hardware that sent current technologies to the scrap heap. Some communication and server gear never even made it out of its packaging!
If techs were the cowboys, the salespeople were the rock stars. Able to translate the techno-babble into value propositions and decipher vendor spreadsheets into purchase orders. They drove sports cars and had long vendor sponsored lunches. Product lunches were massive affairs that would consume an entire beach side resort, or so I’m told.
The geeks were never invited to sales events and even if we were, we would not have had the time to go. The sheer speed of technology advancement meant that if you were not installing, you were studying or working out how the new gizmo worked. We took the customers new servers home on the weekend so we could work out how to install it on the Monday. We learnt how applications worked on the drive to the customer, where our sales “handler” would make us dance like chimps.
Steve Jobs made the world fall in love with his stylish, simple to use devices. Few people would comprehend the time when you have to build your work computer from the mother board up, Microsoft Word was tediously installed using 25 delicate 5 ¼ inch diskettes.
Then there was the software wars… Bitter and bloody, fought with venom and spite. No marketing trick was too dirty or sales kickback too big. Microsoft vs IBM, Novell Netware vs Banyan, UNIX vs OS2 and Apple vs everyone. Governments purchased millions of dollars’ worth of software one year, only to switch to another product the next. It was a crazy time and we were crazy people.
This Valentine’s Day, as you send that selfie clutching a bunch of roses to Facebook, spare a thought to the 50 years of software evolution. Without it, whisking your 6MB of ones and zeros through a myriad of routers, firewalls, servers and storage arrays to end up as a Valentines notification on your timeline, people may think you’re still single.
Love your software this Valentine’s Day, it’s been through a lot too!
VP Product Development