Don's Home Technology Information Processing and Communication Networks - History - Technologies - Overview

Under Construction.

As information technologies merge it becomes harder to classify my web pages with notes on them. Communications (Telephone, TV, Radio, Internet (email, web, facebook, ...), Electronic computing (Number crunching, word processing, ..., video editing), and the networks to connect it all. The devices, phones, computers, switches, routers, ... all became smaller, faster, cheaper more ubiquitous.

I was lucky to have a 45 year + career which spanned a lot of it. Starting with paper tape system connected to teletype machines to transmit billing records for telephone customers in Nevada to computers in Sacramento which generated the bills in 1967 to building a web site for my Son's wedding in 2011.

I decided to try and look back on how things evolved. My career with the phone company (Pacific Bell, Bell Labs, AT&T, Bellcore and Telcordia Technologies) gave me an inside look.

It started with the paper tape system mentioned above and a GE timesharing system where we wrote basic programs to do statistical analysis in 1970. In the middle 70's, at Bell Labs, I used a new computer operating system, UNIX, to do simulations and testing on a project to build the largest integrated facilities inventory, management and customer records system ever attempted. It kept track of all the wire, cables, switching equipment and phone numbers available and provisioned them to provide a customer with phone service.

In 1980 I left Bell Labs to work on a prototype "office of the future" at AT&T. Managers would ask us why they had to pay the information systems organization $4,000/yr to do their budget on a main frame when they could buy an Apple II and do it on visicalc for a one time investment of less than half of that.

Higher up managers were allowed to have answering machines, but voice mail and desktop computers were still 5 years off.

The chairman of AT&T got a terminal to do email but had to hide it in a closet because the UNIX software we used only worked on an HP terminal, not the Teletype terminals manufactured by Western Electric, and AT&T subsidiary.

Around that time, early 80's, there was an explosion in technology, Ethernet, Xerox PARC, Digital PBX's, packet networks, TCP/IP, .... I had a diagram on my viewgraphs showing a computer with a phone hanging off the side as an example the future desktop appliance. Bell Labs research actually had such a device they were trialling with executives. (The Apple Macintosh and IBM PC were to be introduced a few years later.)

Below I'll try to trace how distance communications (I'll start with the telegraph not smoke signals used by native americans or signal fires used in the American Revolution), and desktop computing starting with the pocket calculator, evolved.

In 1985 after the breakup of the Bell System (AT&T, The 22 Bell operating telephone companies, Bell Labs, Western Electric, ...), I started a consulting company I called DIMEX (Digital Information Management and Exchange), which I thought would be the growth area of the future. (I eventually went back to work at Bellcore, because my wife thought I ought to have a more stable job.)

Stay tuned. I have real work to do now so will be updating this site later.


Links:
Technology Adoption Cycle
Mini and Personal Computing History
Internet History
Esparza's Computers and Digital Technology CIS105 - Chapter 5 Telecommunications, Wireless Technologies, and Computer Networks (powerpoint) at Glendale Community College
last updated 14 Apr 2011