Disco Duck

This blog has very little to do with disco, and nothing at all to do with ducks. With 2013 coming to a close, I started thinking about what a 1970 Systems Programmer would think of a 2013 Systems Programmer?

I'll call the 70's sysprog Travolta and the 2013 sysprog Bieber.

In 1970, there were four SHARE's a year! Travolta would have attended all of them and had a blast at scids. He probably would have skipped several afternoons of sessions to do some local sightseeing.

In 2013, despite Bieber's best efforts, he is only able to get one SHARE a year approved, and when he goes, he is completely focused, attending all sessions and even the morning and evening optional sessions.

In 1970, mainframe costs start at about $2,248,550 (For the S/370 in 1970)

In 2013, mainframe costs start at about $75k.(For the zBC12 entry level)

This $2,248,550 of 1970 dollars would be worth $13,545,481.93 in 2013. $13M will get you a dang fine EC12: 2827-727 with 27205 MIPS. If you want the top of the line EC12, dig in your pockets for a cool $33M and get a 2827-7A1 with 78426 MIPS.

In 1970, Travolta would be dreaming about a cushy fully funded retirement program. 

In 2013, Bieber is relying on Social Security and his 5% contribution to his 401K.

I wonder if Travolta would be able to handle the job of a sysprog today. We have so many tools that make our lives easier, but it takes some getting to know the tools. On the other hand, Travolta had to do things the hard way, and thus he knew internals much better than clicky Bieber does. He knew assembler, and memory, and reusing base registers and how to play frisbee with r/w rings, and how to remove a platter from a disk. (I'm stretching the boundaries of my own knowledge here!) He had institutional knowledge as well, like where the coldest place under the floor tiles was to hide the beer, and how loud you needed to turn up the music when the burster was running. 

A day in the life of Beiber would likely blow Travolta away. Bieber's commute lands him at work at 6:05AM, because Starbucks opens at 6. Bieber spends about half an hour checking the overnight issues, checking dumps and logrec and security violations, checking the RMF reports for yesterday. Bieber will then particpate in a few conference calls and a hallway meeting with his boss and three coworkers. He then takes two mandatory classes online, privacy and disaster preparedness. Around lunchtime Bieber heads to the gym for a 45 minute workout and chugs a can of soup at his desk later. In the afternoon there are more conference calls and meetings, but Biebs manages to sprinkle a little bit of actual work in there. Travolta would be appalled. He spends his 14 hour days heads down banging on the keyboard.

Bieber's phone has 1000 times more computing capacity than anything Travolta could buy. Travolta's impact printer would have printed 2,000 lpm. Bieber can't remember the last time he printed anything.

It makes me start to think about time travel. I'd like to go back, just for a day, and hang out in Travolta's computer room, or bring him here to mine. Wouldn't that be a hoot!?

At the end of the day, I think Travolta's day was more fun, but Bieber has a huge productivity advantage, despite the number of meetings he has to attend. So, I probably should have been coding in 1970. At age 5.

Your link today is to Dave Manuel's inflation calculator. http://www.davemanuel.com/inflation-calculator.php

Have a great day!

Mary Anne


1 Comment

Yes, it's a hoot!

December 19, 2013 08:31 AM by Marna

Love this post and the comparison!  I can't attest, but sounds spot on.  Doing so much more with so many fewer people is one of the biggest comments I hear.

Rock on.

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