How revolutions are born

Flashback to the mid-1970s, when this pilot fish is a clerk at a company where IT is called Computer Services, all the software is written in mainframe PL/I -- and the VP of Real Estate wants a regularly updated list of leaseholders in alphabetical order.

"The names were from paper forms which had only one field for leaseholder name," says fish. "I could see the futility of continuing to reorder the data by hand and have someone type a list which would almost certainly be out of date by the time the typist finished.

"I made a request to Computer Services for a way the typist could enter the data on the brand new mainframe terminal that HR had put in our office, and have the data stored and printed.

"The answer was, 'Maybe in two years if you put something in the budget.'

"As I left that office in Computer Services, I was called into the next office down the hall by George -- someone I had known for many years because my father worked for this company for 35 years, and I ran free in those offices from the age of eight.

"George gave me the 1976 version of the SAS manual and told me to read it. He said, 'See if you think you can do it yourself.'

"I did -- and eventually retired from IT as a SAS programmer."

Sharky has a not-all-that-revolutionary idea: Send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp Shark shirt if I use it. Comment on today's tale at Sharky's Google+ community, and read thousands of great old tales in the Sharkives.

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