Where does the time go?

By Dr. Guy Bunker. 

I was asked this week to record a short video for our Clearswift placement students. We have four students on placement from Reading University all from technical departments! The video will be used at the placement recruitment fair and is to explain a little about Clearswift and why the students should come and work with us for their year out.

I was more than happy to do it – but it made me think. I did a four year degree and my placement year was my first introduction to the real world of work. I’d had experience working in a number of shops and even a holiday job in a very small factory building burglar alarms. Working in the ‘real world’ was different, project meetings, and real responsibility – even though you are on placement. Our students help in support, IT operations and engineering – all essential parts of our business. As I was being recorded on an HD camera, and the recording cut onto a DVD, I reflected briefly on the change since I was in their shoes… back then we had email, yes it was around and of course we had computers, but today the capabilities are almost unrecognisable.

So, back then, 1984, there was the first release of Microsoft Windows, but it was still MS DOS that was in use. Of course ‘in industry’ we were using VMS and I also had my first exposure to Unix… the system cost a fortune and the company I worked for was into real time image processing – the size of the image… 128x128 pixels! By the end of my year we were trialling some new technology which was 256x256 – and the processing units were the size of microwaves and cost an arm and a leg.

Hitachi also created the first chip with 1MB of memory, which once again seems so small when you think of the devices today and the recent announcement of a USB stick with 1TB of storage. The cost of the Hitachi chip was prohibitive for almost all applications.

Both IBM and Apple released their ‘personal’ computers the AT and Macintosh respectively… who could possibly foresee the changes in both companies and the next two decades – a rollercoaster ride for both, but they are both still here and stronger than ever.

Also, 1984 was the year that Mark Zuckerberg was born and Bill Gates made the front page of TIME magazine. Two individuals whose names are synonymous with wealth and innovation – and both are making a difference to millions (or billions) of peoples’ lives.

Time and tide waits for nobody, innovation today is just as great as ever it was and the rate of change is astonishing. Who would have thought back then that you could carry 30,000+ songs in your pocket, along with thousands of pictures, multiple videos and most importantly access to the internet – and all the knowledge that it can impart. What will we be able to do in 20 years time?

The reflection was only brief because it was nearly 30 years ago – and I am not too sure where the time has gone. All I know is that my placement year shaped the rest of my career – technology today still excites me and its potential for the future is greater than ever. I look forward to welcoming the new placement students in the near future – the first big step in their long and, no-doubt, illustrious careers.