A Tale of Two Readers

A pair of Computerworld's first subscribers miss the old days but look back on long, fruitful careers.

As we looked back on Computerworlds 40-year history, we reached out to two longtime readers who have been part of the IT scene for more than four decades. Although they arent entirely happy with the course IT has taken over the years, they both say they wouldnt trade their experiences in IT for anything.

Mike Gorman, database/CASE expert

In 1967, Mike Gorman made $650 a month, and the computer he used with far less power than a BlackBerry has today cost his company $650 per hour.

A lot has changed in four decades.

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And not all of it for the better, according to Gorman, now 66 and president of Whitemarsh Information Systems Corp. in Bowie, Md. We fail to learn from the past, he says. With every generation of hardware and software, we seem to re­invent the same things. Techniques for memory management are a prime example, says Gorman, a specialist in database systems.

I fault the universities, he says. There are not that many courses in real software engineering anymore. Back in the 1970s and early 1980s, there was a real effort to teach software architecture, software engineering, systems analysis and design. Whats replaced that is courses that teach Oracle or Sybase or Microsoft, and the result is lousy database design, lousy software engineering.

With an undergraduate degree in math, Gorman joined the world of IT in 1966 as a Fortran programmer at Vitro Laboratories in Silver Spring, Md., where he worked on an IBM 7090 computer. While computer time then was more expensive than a programmers salary by a factor of several hundred, that relationship has now been completely inverted, Gorman observes.

And thats had a perverse effect on the quality of systems today, he contends, because companies are willing to throw lots of computing resources at a problem but are stingy with the human resources needed to really make systems top-notch.

Gorman sums up his long career in IT this way: IT has been very good to me. I got seven kids through college, compliments of IT. But I have no intention of retiring at all. I have too many things to do, and Im having too much fun.

Gerald DeMaagd, information security specialist

Gerald DeMaagd traces his love of IT back 45 years, to his days as a programmer at General Motors Corp.

DeMaagd, now 70, earned a degree in economics and took his first job in 1962 at GM as an operator of an IBM 1401 computer. That mostly involved pushing cards and mounting tapes, but he soon advanced to 1401 programming, which meant writing code in the Autocoder assembly language.

It was fun, he recalls. The programs were fairly small; you could test them out yourself on the computer, watch the tapes move and get real feedback from the machine. I worked the second shift so I could play with it at night.

In 1967, DeMaagd moved on to Lear Siegler Inc., a defense contractor that was among the first companies to get one of the revolutionary new IBM System/360 mainframes. And thats where he became a charter subscriber to a new publication called Computerworld.

Computerworld was the only publication that was really giving information, outside of IBM channels, as to what was going on inside IBM, he recalls. For us, it was sort of the straight scoop on our main vendor.

Where else did he get IT information? It was on-the-job experience, he says.

Over the years, DeMaagd joined Steelcase Inc. and then Jefferson Wells International Inc., an auditing services company, where he now works part time.

Of his 45 years in IT he says, The one constant is the need for continuous learning. Computerworld helps with that.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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