Thursday, August 31, 2017
The Early Days of Technology
The Early Days of Technology
In the early days of computers in the work place, the IT people were Gods who worked miracles.
IT people used this and were reticent to bestow any of their God-like abilities to the lowly “Users.”
I worked in an order and execution department of a large brokerage firm. Clerks filed orders in what we called “flip-flop racks” and then matched executions manually to those orders. The matched reports were then sent to teletype operators to send the reports back to the order entering office.
In the early 70’s this process was automated. Orders were filed on a mainframe computer and executions automatically matched with the report. The execution information was sent to the office by the computer. Clerks had to research and resolve messages that did not match for one of several reasons from an application on a terminal at their desk (we called them CRT’s, for cathode ray tubes.)
If a message needed to be sent to an office, it was written on a message pad and dropped off to a key punch operator to be wired to the office from their own CRT.
If an account needed to be researched or a trade adjusted, there was a separate “Dumb” terminal (CRT) for that process.
We had dumb terminals on each desk for researching trade issues.
We had a few dumb terminals in a separate area that were used for account research and trade adjustments.
We had dumb terminals used by teletype operators to send messages to the offices.
There was often a wait to use the account research terminals. There were often errors made because teletype operators misread messages.
Our department operated this way for years. One day I was watching an IT person trying to solve a problem. He was on a dumb terminal which we used to resolve mismatches. I saw him clear the screen and type a message to send to someone in his department.
“WAIT…What did you just do?”
“You can send a message from the order match terminal?”
“Sure, it all connects to the mainframe, you just clear the screen and then send the message.”
“So, we can send a message to an office ourselves? We don’t have to write it out and then give it to a teletype operator to send?”
“Sure, their terminal is no different than yours.”
“WHAT? Could we also use all the terminals to do account research?”
“Sure, just clear the screen and type “PC” and the account research application will pop-up.”
“So, we don’t have to stand in line waiting for an account research terminal?”
“We can send our own messages?”
“We can do everything we need to do at our own dumb terminal?”
“Why have we been standing in line waiting for a terminal, and needing a special operator to send messages when we can do it all from the terminal at our desk?”
“I don’t know, no one ever asked.”
It took me several weeks to convince those in my department that they could perform all operations from one terminal by clearing the screen and entering the correct application code. Some people still refused to send their own messages and they continued to use the separate terminals for account research.
Change is difficult.