Full Circle?

I am currently working on training required for Azure Cloud Solution Architect – App Dev. These are pretty cool tools, all in one platform at your reach, easy to install and to use.

My father was a banker, during a brief time in his life, he had a short stint in the late 1960’s working for Honeywell selling mainframe time sharing – he went back to banking where he then had a stellar career in the financial industry – but that is a different story. Keep this in mind: main frame time sharing.

While I was in college getting my actuarial degree I came about to my first exposure to software development and computers was two fold: one day my father came home with and IBM PC – you needed to load the operating system using those huge floppy disks, Disk A and B and switch them as needed. The computer had no hard disk. He installed this huge thing on a desk inside a walking coat closet.

It was on that closet, where I spent hours working on my Operations Research homework assignments,  using a pirate version of a FORTRAN compiler with no documentation and only cryptic messages as : error 5 showing up on my screen, this experience left me scarred forever.

My second exposure to software development was a mandatory COBOL class, in order to be able to submit your work,  you needed to reserve a time slot on the school computer lab to use their Honeywell mainframe, you had 45 minutes to write this long convoluted code for a simple Hello World! app, COBOL lost me at the header.

I decided I was never going to be near a computer ever again, they were horrible.

As I finished my Actuarial degree I ended up working for a Surety Bond company. I was bored to tears exploring the ins and outs of the surety bond market, meanwhile they could not fill a position on the IT department, so I ended up in the IT department – where I swear I would never be – , with a brand new HP 300 mini computer with 32 MB of Ram complete with documentation showed up.

I fell in love with software development when I was able to find documentation that explained what error 5 means, with that information in hand, I was able to write code, reports, screens, and so on.

I have not stopped happily developing applications since.

Computer hardware architecture just like the Universe’s big bang theory, keeps moving, and it looks now like an ever expanding and retracting evolution.

Hardware has gone from super centralized hardware with dumb monitors to client/server architecture with personal PC’s with a lot of power that pull information from a server and process everything at the client level and now is coming back to a “centralized” model.

There are still mainframes and mini computers out there, COBOL and RPG programmers are still coding, but these resources are used for large-scale transaction processing systems that support thousands of users and application programs concurrently accessing numerous resources.

For the rest of the world, hardware and software architectures are now going back to centralized services, micro-services and web-services allow you to have a phone application request information that is processed in a server and the results displayed on your phone.

Laptops and phones have now enough power and memory to do minimal operations; after all the average user does not need 8 Gigabytes of memory and 1TB of space to edit a word document or browse the internet for social media, shop or read the news.

You can always store your pictures, music and videos on the cloud of your preference.

The cloud is a fancier version of mainframe time sharing where you pay what you use and our phones and laptops becoming now the little smarter versions of those old dumb monitors, less power than an PC but enough to let you watch a video.

Have we found ourselves back in full circle in a modern version of mainframe computing?


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