The future of the future

Ron Peterson rpeterson at
Wed Feb 16 14:06:04 EST 2000

So I'm sitting at home with the flu and decided to write a little


Shortly after the turn of the century, my grandfather used to be a
telegraph operator.  My grandmother still has some of his equipment.  It
is very well made and still looks as good as new.  At the time, it was
an important occupation, and I think the quality of the equipment
reflects that.

Morse code, of course, soon gave way to radio.  So my grandfather
stopped using dits and dahs, and started using a microphone.  During
WWII, he was a member of the crew that took bomber planes on their
maiden voyages, to see if they would fly.  (Not all of them did.) 
Later, he worked for the airlines.  Reliable communications were vital
to the operation of an airport.  A radio operator did not just work a
microphone.  You also had to be an electrical engineer.

When vacuum tube electronics gave way to transistors, my grandfather
decided he didn't want to go back to school again, and started selling
real estate...


Well, now, of course, radios have been commoditized to the point that
almost everyone has one.  Not only that, but they are much more
sophisticated - e.g. cell phones.

They are so cheap and replaceable, that it would be ludicrous to, say,
get an electrical engineering degree so you would know what to do if
your cell phone went on the blink.


So does this have any bearing on the world of computers?  Computers are
getting cheaper by the second.  Pretty soon you'll be able to get one in
your Happy Meal.  Is the profession of "Systems Manager" going to go the
way of "Radio Operator"?

I do think that there is one significant difference between radio and
computers.  The function of a radio hasn't really changed much.  A
computer, on the other hand, is really just a machine we use to build
*other* virtual machines.  And while computers are getting cheaper, they
are also getting more powerful.  Therefore, the number of things we use
them for will increase in number in complexity.


I hope I haven't strayed too far off topic for this discussion group. 
But I figured that like me, you guys all probably spend a fair amount of
your time planning your future around computers.

What do you think?  Will the profession of managing computers blossom? 
Or wither?


Ron Peterson
rpeterson at (home)
rpeterson at (work)
Subcription/unsubscription/info requests: send e-mail with
"subscribe", "unsubscribe", or "info" on the first line of the
message body to discuss-request at (Subject line is ignored).

More information about the Discuss mailing list