As I was drifting of to sleep last I suddenly realised that next year it will be 30 years since I wrote my first computer program, a small mainframe BASIC application that printed out the multiplication tables to twelve -- no proper loops, just if and goto because that's as far as I had got in the book. I did this in sixth form at Maidstone Grammar School just as I was starting A level computer science with a new school teacher, Tim Baker, who as you can see has moved onto other things. I owe them, and many other people, a huge debt. So what's happened over the last nearly 30 years. Here is my personal list in no particular order:
  • The PC
  • Client server computing, initially 2 tier which took a very long time to to become accepted, and then later multi-tier
  • The drop in cost of software and hardware. Many people now have computers with complex tools (office automation, software development, multimedia....) at both home and work
  • The Internet
  • Free Software
  • Web applications and the on-line economy
  • OO technologies
  • New languages such as: C++, java etc; Perl, Python etc; "Interesting" languages that have become more mainstream such as Haskell, Lisp etc.
  • Everything has become digital. Music, TV, banking, photographs, education, commerce, wars...
and what have been the disappointments?
  • Software development has become a fashion industry, every new fad will fix all the problems with the previous one
  • Stuff takes a long time to become mass marketed even when there are no technology problems
  • It's still pretty hard for the none-technical people to get things to work
  • The decline in the quality of computer education (or perhaps it was never very good?)