The InSource Group is celebrating our 20th year in business since Linda Dietrich founded the company in 1992. And to paraphrase a popular Grateful Dead lyric, “What a long, GREAT trip it’s been.”
The technology industry has changed dramatically since The InSource Group was founded. We thought it would be fun to highlight just a few of the many changes which have occurred over the last two decades.
The 1990s saw a tremendous shift in how software was developed. Early on, if you were an Assembler, RPGII, RPGIII, PL/1 or COBOL developer, you were in high demand during the early 90s. 4GL programming languages such as PowerBuilder and Delphi were just beginning to gain acceptance, with PowerBuilder professionals experiencing a hot ride for several years.
Remember the UNIX vs. DEC/ VAX wars being waged for the engineering and scientific community in the early 1990’s? Heterogeneous networks became the buzz words for connecting different hardware platforms to a common network with a standardized communication protocol. IBM was the undisputed hardware leader with its mainframe and mid-range AS/400 lines, while a host of competitors were vying for left over market share. Microsoft began its real run at the business enterprise (first with Windows 95 recommended to run on 8 megabits of memory, AND the OS upgrade still being shipped on floppy discs!) and quickly became an established part of the rapidly emerging client-server architecture. By the way, what ever happened to the OS/2, CP/M and PICK operating systems?
Software development was primarily performed in a structured or iterative methodology, while object oriented programming was finally gaining acceptance beginning with client server based application architectures. FORTRAN, C and Assembly were still the dominant languages used by the technical community, although C++ was actually invented around 1980. While until 1995, Java was still just a slang word for coffee.
What about those hardware vendors from the 90’s? Which of these do you remember: Stratus, Prime, Tandem, DEC, Data General, Honeywell, Computervision, Silicon Graphics (SGI), Wang Computers, Cray, SUN Microsystems, Convex or Pyramid Technology? Most are out of business or absorbed by the few remaining dominant hardware vendors.
With the increased acceptance of C++, Visual C++, along with Java’s introduction in 1995, object oriented development professionals were in high demand. If you were one of the early developers who jumped on the OO development band wagon, the mid and late 90’s were very good to you.
The new millennium brought many more changes. How technology was being used seemed to change as much as the technology itself.
Who can forget the Armageddon predictions associated with the Y2K conversion efforts for all those mainframe applications using a two digit date field?
At the same time, it seemed like any company with a business idea related to the internet became prime investments for Venture Capital firms. Some companies even changed their name to end with “.com” to capitalize on the hysteria. For a while, if you could design a website using HTML you too were a hot commodity. And suddenly in 2001, the “dot com” bust finally occurred.
Seemingly as quickly, the world changed and became “flat” as described in Thomas Friedman’s book published in 2005; “The World Is Flat”. Now, not only was technology continuing to change at a rapid pace, America was competing on a larger, global playing field.
Outsourcing and off-shoring projects became all the rage in the early to mid-2000’s. The successful completion of a large number of fiber optic, transatlantic communication cables capable of data rates of up to 10 gigabytes / second provided access to a cheap and educated workforce primarily in India and China. During this time careers in technology did not look so promising in America as companies cut back on IT investments and hiring technical staff.
ERP specialists were the exception during this time as Fortune 500 companies sought to optimize their operations to compete more efficiently and globally. Whether a functional or technical specialist with SAP, Oracle, i2, PeopleSoft, Baan, Lawson or JD Edwards experience, this was a time of high earnings.
Application developers with Java, C++, or .Net framework experience saw a decline in demand, while data architects and data warehouse specialists stayed in high demand as companies struggled with complex ERP and Business Intelligence system implementations.
Then, another change began taking place. Is it possible to over emphasize the influence on both the personal and business use of social media sites? From 2002 to 2006, the following sites were placed in operation: Friendster, MySpace (a response to Friendster with the first version coded in 10 days!), Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Along with increased use of the World Wide Web came increased risk of hackers and potentially devastating computer viruses to the business enterprise. Greater attention was placed on information security with new hardware and software products being developed, along with new career paths developing around data security. These increased threats quickly elevated the importance of the position of Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). By 2009, 85% of large organizations reported having a CISO, up from 43% in 2006.
RIM’s Blackberry can arguably be credited with kicking off the mobile computing race. Soon, PDAs, smart phones and ultimately electronic tablets accelerated by the iPad introduction, created demand for a new type of development professional. Experience with operating systems such as iOS, Android, Windows CE, BREW, and Symbian along with software languages like Objective C, J2ME and Python grew in demand. Working closer to the operating system increased in importance, something more typically associated with engineering or scientific software development efforts.
Last but not least, the acceptance of cloud computing as a viable business model is changing the technology landscape again. Software as a Service (SaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) now provide access to applications and services previously available only to larger firms with deep capital resources. Technology professionals such as Business Analysts, Project Managers and Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) with a deeper understanding of how a business operates combined with strong technical skills, have reemerged in importance.
To finish this off, here is a short list of some of the more important events for each year The InSource Group has been in business. We hope you enjoy the trip as much as we have.
1992 – Ross Perot Sr., founder of EDS announces his presidential candidacy as an independent candidate, with most of the country still asking, “What’s the World Wide Web?”
1993 – Mosaic was the first graphical web browser released for browsing the internet.
1994 – Yahoo is started as a personal list of sites by two Stanford college students, David Filo and Jerry Yang.
1995 – The Java language introduced by Sun Microsystems and Amazon.com becomes operational, while less than 27% of U.S. households own personal computers according to Dataquest.
1996 – The average modem transfers data at 14,400 bps and “dial up” is still the dominate method of connecting to the internet.
1997 – Personal computer ownership in U.S. households rises to 43%.
1998 – Windows 98 OS released by Microsoft.
1999 – Craigslist’s website is incorporated, the original version of Napster’s file sharing software debuts, and the Melissa email virus is unleashed.
2000 – The Internet bubble peaks on March 10th, and the NASDAQ and other markets begin their yearlong downward spiral.
2001 – Wikipedia debuts and the Apple iPod is released.
2002 – The Blackberry smartphone by RIM is introduced supporting email and web browsing.
2003 – Apple iTunes store opens while 67% of users who download music from the internet say they do not care whether the music is copyrighted or not.
2004 – Facebook is started by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, Google files for their IPO and the number one word of the year based on on-line lookup according to Merriam – Webster’s was “blog.”
2005 – YouTube is founded and Google Earth is launched.
2006 – The social networking service Twitter is founded and the first Sony e-book reader is released.
2007 – The first Apple iPhone was released and the smart phone frenzy accelerates. Is there anything else worth talking about?
2008 – Microsoft offers to buy Yahoo for $44.6 billion and the PC mouse turns 40 years old.
2009 – The Internet turns 40 years old, and almost 1/3 of the world’s population is surfing the internet.
2010 – The Apple iPad was introduced and Bill Gates was quoted, “It is a nice reader but there is nothing on the iPad I look at and say Oh, I wish Microsoft had done that”. Uhhhh Bill, would you like to take that statement back?
2011 – On aggregate, healthcare information technology combined with advances in medical device technology opens up a whole new area for information technology innovation.