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The "old days" in the computer era equates only to the age of the speaker. I have been servicing PC's since 1983, yet a young systems administrator who works for me has never even seen Windows 3.1!
home insurance in wisconsin My old days include DOS, CP/M, dumb terminals, Arcnet, the "Four C's" (the four most popular IBM PC compatibles in 1985: Compaq, Corona, Chameleon and Columbia), Novell and yes, Windows 3.1. Many present day technicians would classify their old days as Windows 98 (plain) and NT 4.
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My point is that technicians today do not have the benefit of yesterday's experience, mistakes and products long gone. I do sometimes feel like a grandfather while explaining to the youngsters that Windows 95 only became popular because of True-type fonts (before that, we had to manually build each and every font size of each font type separately). I'm only 46, and although I'm technically a grandfather via marriage, I only feel old enough when I'm running down a problem with roots in ancient times.
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Do you know we used to have to prepare hard drives for use in computers? It sometimes was an overnight job. Have you ever seen the "park" program? It would move the heads of a hard drive to the far inside to protect from vibration when not powered on. Network adapters once needed boot programs built for each workstation. Memory was at first soldered onto motherboards. It tool an electrical engineer to replace a single chip, If you knew which one went bad.
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Technical support was a special science back then. There was really nowhere to go for answers. A technician learned mostly from trial and error and there was no such thing as an apprentice. Most PC technicians were employed in the mainframe market, dabbling in computers at home and learning enough to fix small problems. Soon these techs grew their knowledge and went into networking and building their own PC's from components. There were two kinds of computer stores, one was a corporate store for their name brand (IBM, Apple, etc.) and the other were "clone" stores, who built IBM-compatibles to order. Us clone techs really knew our stuff. We had to.
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Then something interesting happened: networking with Windows became mainstream. This was easy to set up, compared to Novell or other server operating systems, and the end result was the introduction of thousands of new "garage" technicians, people who had virtually no experience, but enough hands-on to perform simple networking tasks. Anyone, it seemed, could be a computer expert. The competition for business between these new technicians and legitimate network specialists became intense, and hourly prices fell to rock bottom. For example, a key employee might have a friend or neighbor who would charge only $10 per hour (on the side) when most experienced technicians were getting $45-$75. Only the rapid growth of the industry kept most of these professionals employed.
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Eventually the fallout came, and garage techs found that more and more problems were over their head. Their business clients soon became disenchanted with the down time and lack of explanation for serious issues that continued without resolution. Office managers began to return to using the journeymen, and this continues to this day.
A reversal of the "easy" times began in the late nineties. Computing became complex again, especially with the advent of Terminal Server (which allows remote access to a network via sessions) and ecommerce web sites. Almost overnight, a large number of computer professionals, including most corporate IT staff, found themselves lacking the knowledge required of them by their companies. One had to know the intricacies of Citrix, Internet Information Server, Exchange, Linux and SQL, in addition to their already taxed application set.
At the same time, high-tech companies have been going bankrupt or downsizing, and businesses are finding themselves co