[vcf-midatlantic] early recollections (was apple /// cobol)

Neil Cherry ncherry at linuxha.com
Thu Nov 23 18:02:47 EST 2017

On 11/23/2017 01:48 PM, Tony Bogan wrote:
>>>> .
>> I don't recall seeing micros (Apple, CP/M) or minis (like the PDP-8) in small
>> businesses. Of course that might have been due to my limitted exposure at that
>> period. See below when I started seeing the PC show up.
>> BTW, companies like newspapers and large manufacturing (smelting, chemical, 
>> pharmaceuticals) had minis and mainframes for a long time. I know that PDP-8s (and
>> DECNet) were being used in automation control until 2005.
>> I worked in the newspaper industry in 1984 and I know that the industry used the
>> minis (PDP-8) for control of the presses and distribution of the stories and editing.
>> I know this because I watch a tech do a repair of a PDP-8 where the entire back was
>> one color of wire (Yellow). And I couldn't see anything other that wirewrap back
>> there.
>> I watched one network engineer at Hoechst Celanese login to a mainframe and proceed
>> to pipe commands from the mainframe to the the PDP (Decnet) to Unix (IP network),
>> like you would in shell. (1988)
>> I also recall the first PCs being used at the Wall Street Journal. They wanted the
>> company I worked for to create news story editing software (doesn't use ASCII & had
>> special font and formatting). We'd been using OS/9 on a Gimix Ghost and I found the
>> fact that the PC couldn't do multitasking a step backward. (1985). The company I
>> worked for had OS/9, OSK and Flex machines.
>> In 1987 I worked at AT&T's technical support hotline in networking. I supported
>> everything from mainframe protocols, X.25, Novell, Banyon Vines, IP and this new
>> fangled brouter ( ;-) ).  Businesses were really putting the PC to use heavily by
>> then.
>> One more odd story. I recall that my insurance agent had a printer and mainframe
>> terminal when I got my first insurance (1979). It wasn't a nasty IBM terminal but
>> something else. He had converted his garage into his insurance office. Opinion: the
>> introduction of the IBM PC. More specifically the beginning of the clone market. The
>> Ken Gordon Production (PC-fests) shows started around 1982 (probably a bit later).
>> Some may argue that it was Apple that started the march towards business, I always
>> considered them more educational. The name IBM meant business and the clone was close
>> enough for everyday use. I do recall business application for the Apple, Commodore 
>> and Atari home computers. I had a copy of Visicalc and was shocked at how easy it was
>> to use and wondered why I needed it.
>> In 1981 I had started working for Middelsex County College. Doing PC installation,
>> support and repair (later mainframe terminal repair).
>> I recall the Apple IIs not getting noticed by the business dept. They had mainframe
>> terminal access. But when the PC arrived then we noticed an uptick on PCs on the desk
>> (Lotus 123 was huge).
>> BTW, don't trust the years I may be off on some of this. The general gist of the
>> story is correct but I didn't really track the years. Heck I didn't get a PC clone
>> until 1990.
> I guess pet of it depends on what you consider "small business." You mention
> newspapers, Wall Street journal, at&t, college.....these are not small businesses (I
> know you know this and you were not say n they were)

Oops, mixed things up again, sorry. Those places I worked at (except my second job)
were definitely large businesses. I meant the small business as in SMB. During the
1980-1990 time frame my friends and I put together hundreds of systems for people
at the various KGP shows. Save folks a lot of money. Most were the small business
folks I meant (a few employees at most).

> My family business (20-40 employees depending on time of year) started using an apple
> II to do the bank accounts and basic word processing (to mail letters!!) and
> bookkeeping in 1979/1980. I was not in high school yet using MoneyStreet to do the
> checking account reconciliations for the accountants (mr Forman and his son mark!)
> Ritchie potters electronics (for decades sold the decanavigators, the A-loran then
> c-loran and the radars and radios etc to the fishing boats all along the jersey coast)
> was the first place I saw an apple II. He started using it to do his books and print
> receipts. A few years later he became a full fledged Apple computer dealer!!
> I remember the mid 80s the dry cleaners my mom took us to had an at&t machine and. A
> daisywheel printer doing the two part carbon receipts.

Wonder if it was the 6300?

> By the time I was 14 (1982) I had two other friends besides myself who's family
> business used the apple II to "run" their business (from daily records to just
> checkbooks)
> The local newspapers to me (coast star, etc) used some early pc for bookkeeping before
> they eventually switched to Macs for pagelayout in the 1986-1988 timeframe.

Macs were very good at page publishing, That's one are where PC were terrible.
At AT&T (1989), our group did all our documentation on Macs (Page Maker and
Viseo - before Microsoft borked it) up. Appletalk and Laser printers were the
norm. I worked in the group that did the engineering for the group that is now
AT&T managed network services.

> I think the Commodores and trs 80s and apples didn't really break into the "big"
> business market. The small and home business market was created by those three (and
> VisiCalc....it was EVERYWHERE and one of the few things non computer people even knew
> about)  and eventually taken over by the pc and clones.

I think the Pets did but not so much the home computer stuff. I've heard of oddball
stuff like an Atari 800 being used in a radio station. The recently shown (and still
working) Commodore 64 tire balancer, and my Uncle ran a DEC dealer out of Poughkeepsie.
He must have had small businesses as that's pretty much all that's up that way (I know
not microcomputers really).

Oh, I forgot about the TRS80s. Those were business machines also and they pre-date
the PC by a lot. I remember drooling over them for a long time.

> At least in my neck o the woods thats what I saw growing up. Tony

I stand corrected :-) I recall Moneystreet, Peachtree and one other.
I will say I know of CP/M machines being used in business but I never
saw them. My limited exposed I guess. But I still stand by the PC being
the point where people really didn't need to be a programmer anymore
because they were in greater numbers by 1982. And they were as ubiquitous
as cash registers.

Perhaps I saw it incorrectly. Perhaps, pre-PC, there weren't as many
businesses with computers so many close leaders. But the Clone wars
made the PC clone the leader when computers started to become common.

I think Bill D. did some work on this.

Linux Home Automation         Neil Cherry       ncherry at linuxha.com
http://www.linuxha.com/                         Main site
http://linuxha.blogspot.com/                    My HA Blog
Author of:    	Linux Smart Homes For Dummies

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