|.||Kisco Home : An IT Retrospective - 50 Years in the Business||.|
While working at PepsiCo Wines and Spirits, I got my first introduction to the IBM line of minicomputers. We implemented distributed application
running at an office in Bermuda on an IBM System/32. This system, about the size of an office desk, had a 5 MB disk drive, a built in communications
port, printer, display, and keyboard, and was an early form for a PC. Unfortunately--that is very heavy sarcasm--I had to travel to Bermuda several
times a year to keep it running smoothly. We followed this on quickly with a System/34 for the offices in Purchase, New York, where PepsiCo had
finally landed its headquarter offices. The System/34 gave the division some real autonomy in their processing needs and integrated well with both
the corporate 370 environment and the System/32 in Bermuda. This soon moved to the System/36 platform as a natural upgrade.
It was shortly after the System/36 implementation that I finally decided to part ways with PepsiCo. It was time for me to get a promotion, but Pepsi was only interested in promoting people with masters degrees in information systems and I was sitting there still with my high school diploma. So, I left PepsiCo and went out on my own as a consultant. I started Kisco Information Systems in June of 1984 and am still doing this today.
In those early years, a lot of programmers talked about becoming consultants and that was a dream for many of us. I got to realize the dream and also the responsibility of running your own company, hiring people, observing all of the government red tape associated with all this and then some. I must like it since that was 21 years ago and I'm still at it.
Shortly after going into consulting, I came to the realization that when you're consulting, you are constrained in your ability to generate income by the number of hours you can work. While I was making a comfortable living with a growing client base, I wanted to broaden the revenue base, so I started writing general use utility software for the System/36. That platform had a loyal following and there were thousands of small software developers writing packages for it. I joined the group and soon had several software products on the market. I quickly learned that writing an application for a single user and writing for a broad range of users are two very different things. To this day, I am constantly astounded by the ways customers find to use the software that we sell; ways that we never imagined when we started out.
While the PC revolution got started in the early 1980s, I did not jump to that platform until the latter part of the decade. My first PC was a Compaq Portable I (which I still have). It had 640 KB of memory, MS-DOS and two 5.25-inch diskette drives. Even with this limited capacity, I was able to learn programming in dBase II and convert my company processing onto the PC in a custom implementation. Over time, I upgraded the Compaq to add a hard drive of 5 MB that was later updated to 10 MB and then 40 MB. I have since learned to upgrade your PC about every 5 years and buy as much PC as you can each time. Then, nurse it along until you find a drop dead issue that calls for another outright replacement.
When the AS/400 was announced in 1988, I got my order in right away for one of the new B10 systems. I ended up taking delivery of the first customer AS/400 installed in our county. I then quickly moved one of our most popular System/36 applications over to run on the AS/400 and entered into the AS/400 software market as well. I soon found, however, that the AS/400 was vastly different from the System/36. IBM did a nice job of making the System/36 customers feel at home, but I found that I needed to learn a new skillset to work successfully with this system.
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