I am thankful for IT geeks.

In the spirit of the recent holiday, I started to think about what I am thankful for. Of course, we are all thankful for those in our life who are family or friends. However, this blog post is about why we should ditch our family and friends and break bread with former IT geeks.

In 1960 the US Navy bought a computer technology called NAVMACS. NAVMACS stood for Naval Modular Automated Communications System. This was a big cabinet system which used Octal programming with binary logic. The cabinet did not have a monitor and used a series of LED lights to show you code. When working correctly, the system would parse messages from an incoming radio signal and decode and print these for commands to read. The system had 16K internal memory and ran on an 8K system clock. Comparatively speaking, this is close to 400 times slower than what we use on our phones today.

It is important to realize why I am telling you this. First and foremost, the NAVMACS was replaced in 2001 with a new NACMACS 2 system. What this means is for 41 years the US Navy used this technology.

This system makes me very thankful for newer technology.

The first thing that I am thankful for is LCD monitors. We certainly take these for granted today. The cost for a 21” LCD Monitor is less than $200. If you remember, these became popular in 2003. The LCD monitor did not outsell the CRT (Cathode Ray Tube) monitor until 2008. Imagine today if you wanted to get a large 22” monitor on your desk and had to use a CRT monitor. A 22” CRT monitor was over 19” deep and would take up all of your desk space. Not to mention it took a crane to lift it up and move it onto your desk. Not really, but you get the point.

The second item to be thankful for is virtualization. We all talk about it like it is a common term that everyone should know. The virtualization craze started with VMware and still resides with them. (Sorry Microsoft, Hyper-V is not there yet). The virtualization process allows us to use one large physical server and segment this into several virtual servers. Prior to VMware, we would buy a physical server for each server that we needed. With VMware, we can allocate resources to different virtual servers saving money on power, processing, cabinets, and networking. In a nutshell, this is what has allowed the cloud to become so popular.

The third item is more about a team of people. I am particularly thankful for the engineering team at Intel. Intel has helped to continue to prove Moore’s law from 1965. Why is this important? Without improving processing power, we would not have the innovation that we have today. First and foremost, thank you Intel team for creating the multi-core processors. Prior to multi-core processors, we had one processor bus per chip and this would only allow so many instructions to be handled. The only way to get more processes would be to raise the speed of the clock. The higher the clock speed the more heat we produced. If Intel had not learned how to develop multiple cores we would still have huge tower computers to help dissipate the heat of the processors. Think about that when you look at your phone or tablet today.

The next person you need to thank is Bill Gates. Well, maybe not him directly but certainly his team. Do you remember DOS? This allowed us to run a program from a command line and allocate memory for this process. The programs were not multi-tasked and only one would run at a time. It was not until Windows 3.0 that we were allowed to see what multi-tasking was. We learned we could open one program and minimize this while running another. If you don’t think this is important then try to open your email, read your email and then close it. Next open a web browser, then close it. Multitasking is what has allowed us to become much more efficient than we were in the past.

Don’t believe it. Al Gore did not invent the internet. The internet was developed in part in the 1960’s by the federal government to help share information. The internet became wildly popular in the early 1990’s with AOL and CompuServe. We all know how this has changed our society. Consider that today (Monday after Thanksgiving) is one of the three busiest days on the internet per year. The evolution of the Internet is not just one person. It is a society based effort to have more access. You can take a bow, you helped create the internet for what it is today.

So if you are tired of turkey and pumpkin pie, eat one more piece and think about the IT geeks that have come before this day to help make us the productive society we are today.

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