Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Infrastructure IT Evolution Part 1 - The Early Years

I started at an insurance company in August of 1990; I was fresh out of high school. My first position was sorting mail for the customer service department. I decided to delay college (it has been delayed for 22 years now) and my starting salary in August of 1990 was a generous $14,000.00 a year.  That pretty much covered my car payment, car insurance, gas, and my weekend expenses.

I walked around in my dress shirt, dress pants, and tie (corporate policy even for mail clerks) with my standard issued mail cart delivering correspondence to customer service representatives, managers, and executives.

In a short period of time I was promoted to an associate customer service position.
The early 1990’s were an interesting time to be in corporate America. Individual contributors that were part of the day-to-day operations didn’t have cubicles, instead 6-foot high walls zoned off the department and all our desks were jammed together. There was no privacy, and even worse was the fact that smoking was allowed in the office. Every day I would come into the office and sit next to Liz and Holly; they were two pack a day chain smokers. My introduction to cloud computing was the cloud of cigarette smoke hovering over my dumb terminal. By the end of the day my eyes were watering and my cloths smelled like I had been at the Philip Morris convention.

This prompted me to seek other opportunities in the company. The first position I applied for was with the company help desk. Why you ask? The IT department had cubicles! Cubicles with FULL walls! It provided some level of privacy, nobody in the department smoked, and I was able to learn about computers. Score!

When I applied for our IT department’s help desk position, I had been with the company for 3 years, I relied heavily on my customer service background, and of course, I read Microsoft Windows for Dummies. Yeah! I had learned just enough about Microsoft Windows to land the job. Now I was making some real dough, $22,000.00 a year. I remember in those days, I was under the delusion that if I could make $25,000.00 dollars a year that I would be living the high-life. Oh how life has changed…
We were just moving out of the mainframe era to the personal computer. What a relief! I don’t say that because of any technological reason. Rather, I was relieved because the quad screen dumb terminals that were widespread throughout our company weighed nearly 40 pounds. Every time my manager notified me there was an upcoming department move, I cringed.
My introduction to the personal computer was an IBM PS/2 that had a 386 processor, 4 MB of memory, an 80 MB hard drive, and was loaded with Windows 3.0. The average cost for personal computers back in 1993? $2,700.00 to $3,200.00! And people think the MacBooks cost a lot...  

Thus began my exciting journey into infrastructure IT. In my next installment I will discuss the early days of distributed infrastructure computing.

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