[Gllug] where do older sys admins end up?

david at gbenet.com david at gbenet.com
Thu Dec 30 19:28:41 UTC 2010

Hello All,

I've been following your thread with some interest - as an old git of 62 and a "Sysop" as we
were once known. In the middle 80's having built computers - we got into running BBS's there
was no internet - and when it came I had about 100 business people that used it.

I leased cable from IBM - the cable went to the USA and out via France and Germany to end up
in Birmingham - 100 per cent of traffic went out of the UK that was destined for the UK. And
speeds? 9600 baud - and as low as 2400 - the world wide web was an add-on with Netscape the
leader in browsers and web-based intranets.

People - or rather companies first bought computers - desk tops as adding machines. I sill
know people who keep 5.25 inch drives and disks - who are expert at "dos" command prompts.

What happens to us oldies? We all go on to better things :)


Andrew Back wrote:
> On (10:21 30/12/10), Rich Walker wrote:
>> David Damerell <damerell at chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:
>>> On Wednesday, 29 Dec 2010, john maclean wrote:
>>>> Where do older systems administrators end up? I don't know that many
>>>> programmers in their 50/60 and it suddenly dawned on me that I don't
>>>> know any sys admins in that age range.
>>> I do, but partly it's just that the field has expanded. Someone
>>> retiring from sysadmin at 65 today might have started as a
>>> pimply-faced youth of 20 in 1965. But how many sysadmin jobs were
>>> there in 1965?
>> I was talking to an ESA chap at Harwell the other day. They have a huge
>> database of climate measurements going back many, many satellites (and
>> data formats), and they are looking for someone to do data warehousing,
>> visualisation work, integration and so forth. Knowing ESA, that's
>> probably including data formats from 1965 that no-one else
>> understands...
> This is a worryingly common problem. If I were them I'd speak with the
> Computer Conservation Society [1] and perhaps also ping the Classic
> Computing Mailing List [2].
> Via the CCS I've heard a number of amazing talks on early developments in
> British computing, e.g. the, sadly, recently departed Sir Maurice Wilkes
> talk casually about coming up with the idea for subroutines. Their
> membership boasts a number of British computing pioneers. Worth getting to
> one of their lectures at the Science Museum if you ever get a chance.
> Oh, and of course there's already a link between TNMoC and Harwell, as the
> TNMoC/CCS are restoring the Harwell Dekatron Computer.
> ClassicCmp may be a better place to start where US computers and systems are
> concerned. 
> Then for documentation The National Museum of Computing has a large archive
> that includes a wall of microfiche documentation for everything ICL ever
> made (not sure if this covers products from the companies that were merged
> into ICL). And you have bitsavers.org which provides a general archive for
> software and documentation.
> Getting back on topic: the old programmers/sys admins seem to now lecture or 
> have retired and many can be seen in attendance at CCS meetings. Reminiscing
> about things such as how they referred to the first CRT based terminal I/O
> as a "glass teletype", since nobody had yet come up with the term VDU. 
> Cheers,
> Andrew
> [1] http://www.computerconservationsociety.org/
> [2] http://www.classiccmp.org/

“See the sanity of the man! No gods, no angels, no demons, no body. Nothing of the kind.
Stern, sane,every brain-cell perfect and complete even at the moment of death. No delusion.”

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