Growing up with computers and what next?


By Ahmet Abdulaziz …..

The year was perhaps 1975, and I had started working at one of the leading Chartered Accountants in Pakistan, as their Articled clerk. (Articled clerks used to be the aspiring Chartered Accountants who were required to work obligatory under a Chartered Accountant for 3 years, for a very little stipend). Indeed those were the rules of those days. Now these have been vastly changed and altered.

I remember, as part of the audit team,  I was sent to one National Shipping Corporation of Pakistan. That was the first time that I had seen a computer. They had just started maintaining their stores cards on mainframe computers. There was a fully air conditioned room, where entrance was prohibited. The computer was in fact two large cupboards. I simply could not make any sense out of that.

There were punch cards with serial numbers, and the clerks concerned used to punch them, according to the information provided to them, from the incoming and outgoing store chits. I simply could not understand how all that used to work. All that I can recall now, was that there were some long long yellow coloured thin tapes, attached to the punching machine, which were sent to the main computer room where these were processed.

That was my first encounter with a computer.

Those were the days, when even calculators were not very common. I remember, that up to the late 1970s I used to take totals of the amounts written in the books of accounts and other documents, by simply counting them.

I remember that in school we were told of short cut mathematics. For example, we were told to add just one zero, if we wanted to multiply some figure by ten. We were taught to write the figures very neatly, and in a disciplined way, in such a way that hundreds and thousands did not get mixed up. That was the reason we were able to count the figures easily. We had learned how to calculate 10 percent, without doing any real calculation.

Our seniors in the audit firm, used to draw lines on the columns, so that hundreds of all figures would be written under each other in a line. I continued the same practice when I became a senior and asked my juniors to continue the same practice.

Those were the days when calculators had just arrived on the scene. They were quite large in size, and used to make much noise.  But as time passed by, not just their size reduced but also their sound too.

I came across the first personal computers , during the early 1980s. They were rare, and were not available so easily. But I had started seeing them in a few offices that we used to visit as auditors.

Then came a big boom, and everywhere started filling up with personal computers. Different designs, different colours, they were changing very fast. Myself, as an old timer, found it difficult to cope with the changes coming up so fast.  So I kept on trying to make the best use of whatever I could learn in time.

And then even personal computers (PCs) started vanishing. Though they still are being used in offices and workplaces, but the new generation is now using their smartphones in place of PCs.

I am sure, in the near future,  PCs too will become a rarity, like the mainframe huge computers have become.

I keep my fingers crossed to see what will happen next.