Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Memories of IT - early 1980s - Starting to work...

So what was my actual first work? Maintenance, making changes here and there in the Mortgage system. Sometimes there would be a need for a new report, so that might be written from scratch, but often it was take an existing report/program, copy it and change it. Less often, I got to create something totally new; I recall an accounting reconciliation function I developed, matching detail mortgage transactions to GL entries; it was big, intricate, and I was quite proud of it. All of this was done under the direction of an experienced programmer, a nice woman whose name I really wish I could remember, because she got me off to a good start, but left the company not too much later.

Looking back, the main maintenance work is where I first started doing more analysis than coding. Figuring out what the system was doing and how to change it to do what new thing was being asked for, that took more time and effort that the actual coding changes.

I was also lucky to start out in area that literally supported more systems than there were people in the department, so I got to work on many applications over time, from Real Estate Management to Shareholder Reporting to IT Chargeback. I contrast this with the company's main individual life insurance system, which was huge and had a whole department just for its care and feeding.

Other things to note about this period, first half of the 80s:
  • All the systems in use had been developed in-house

  • Batch systems were on their way out; the life system I mentioned above was on-line, using IMS DB and DC. This led to the first down/out-sizing I saw in my career; the internal keypunch group was phased out. The current staff were offered positions with an outside company that continued to do the same work for Crown while it was still needed, but with the obvious expectation that it would be needed less and less over time. At some point, the cards themselves were phased out, with the data being entered in files that mimicked the cards, and those files being used as input to batch jobs.

  • The technology/tools used by programmers was also changing; more on that next time.
Next time: Development goes online...

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About Me

Ontario, Canada
I have been an IT Business Analyst for 25 years, so I must have learned something. Also been on a lot of projects, which I have distilled into the book "Cascade": follow the link to the right to see more.