Machine memories

A techie reminisces about bygone products

Editor's note: Sean Gallagher, special to Federal Computer Week, shares his memories of computers and software that he worked with in the late 1980s, when a Compaq 286 portable computer weighed about 30 pounds and Nantucket’s Clipper dBase compiler introduced him to the world of software development. To view the ads and read his comments, click here [.pdf]. To view a slideshow of more ads through FCW's 20 years, click here.

The technology industry is like a goldfish. It somehow manages to advance itself through the water from year to year, but it seems to lack any memory. How else do you explain phrases such as traditional Web application, or marketing people who talk about virtualization as though it were something VMware invented last Tuesday at a wild coding party?

Everything in information technology is derivative. And so, it seems, are the reasons why technology companies fail. A quick survey of advertisements from Federal Computer Week’s first two years of publication is like a walk through a graveyard of bad business decisions, technology dead ends and corporate hubris.

But technology companies never really die. They just get acquired and become someone else’s legacy problem.

-- Gallagher is editorial director of TechTarget’s Channel Media Group.

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