Saturday, August 14, 2010

Eric Schmidt Q&A at the Bear Stearns Annual Media Conference

Eric Schmidt Q&A at the Bear Stearns Annual Media Conference

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Dawning Of The Information Age

Just this week I had to do a paper for a Pace University class I'm taking on one of the historical events that really had an impact on history. The paper had to be somewhat extensive and I thought "Woe Is Me!". Low and behold after conducting a search, I found a website the zeroed in on the Top Ten Historical Events at

Seeing how I love Information Technology, my eyes immediately zeroed in on number 9, The Dawning Of The Information Age.

This was in my opinion a "loaded" topic as there are so many aspects and I had to think of what could I zero in on. I decided to zero in on flow of digital information exchange as I saw it as well as played a role in the early 1990's. Similar to an article I did recently and posted on my Blog, reflecting on Wall Street in the 1980's, once again to some what you are about to read may seem unclear in terms of trying to get a picture of what was going on, to others it may seem a little clear and yet to others it will be crystal clear. Here's just a little portion of the paper I came up with...

The Information Age brought about computers and the internet.
The factual information is that we are able to do more now than we could prior to the dawning of information age. Computers in their current form today were on-existent. The computers that did exist took up the size of a large room. Computer code was written on punch cards and “fed” into the computers. There is a podcast on iTunes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs that speak of how things were prior to the real evolution of the information age.

The computers that did exist that could be used by individuals as noted in the podcast had very little memory and hard disk space. Because of this the programs written to run on these computers also had very limited capabilities. The computer programming code existed on tape recorders. I know this personally because I used the computers like this. One of the early computers that were in existence was made by Radio Shack and was called the TRS-80. The computer was not stand alone with a display but rather was more like a keyboard with outlets to input peripherals. To this “keyboard” I connected my TV which served as a display. I also connected little snap in cartridges which contained the programs I wanted to run. There were cartridges for Word Processing, Spreadsheets and even online communications via Videotext Cartridge. There was also a programming language cartridge called Basic Assembler. You could save your work (Wording Docs, Spreadsheets, etc.) on to a Cassette Tape Recorder. To get online I used a cable connected to the keyboard that when into a separate Modem. This Modem connected me to the Information Services that existed at the time such as CompuServe Information Service (CIS). This was the “Internet” for users of the time. You were able to read the latest news, join in Bulletin Board Discussions as well as participate in Live Chat.

Information Exchange was a key part of the Information Age. As the Information Age further evolved, individual users found that that if they did not want to pay for an online information service such as CompuServe, they could create they own exchange of information between one or more users. This was done via the use of Computer Bulletin Board Systems or BBS’s. I ran one of these systems. Users were able to l dial my system (my actual telephone line) and I had my computer setup “ready” to take calls from users. I had Message Boards setup for users to exchange information with each other on my system. A Network of Computer Users evolved that at certain intervals at night would “drop off” messages to other Bulletin Board Systems. The Message exchange would be to the “next closest” system so that eventually the message “drop off” would cover the global. Popular networks of that time were called Fido Net Systems where numerically assigned numbers were the “ID” number for the individual computer board systems. The cost was just the phone calls and thus the mail drop offs occurred late at night were rates were low.

At this point the Internet was not in full swing, but E-Commerce was “up and coming” Using these same Bulletin Board Systems users were able to subscribe to services during their dial up session and purchase products using a credit card. The Bulletin Board System would just as it “dropped off” mail, would “drop off” credit card transactions to a card processor for payment. Automation in these early stages was key, so I had my Bulletin Board System setup to automatically take an incoming call, from a user looking to exchange email and/or purchase products. That same evening my system would automatically go offline to drop of mail to the nearest BBS System part of the Fidonet Network and then make another call to process any pending credit card orders.

As the Information Age further evolved having a “Website” was the “in” thing to have. With your Website you now became automatically global. Users could now visit your website and do all of the things they did on your Dial up Bulletin Board System. Once more, while you could only have a limited amount of users on your Bulletin Board System, on the Internet via a Website there was no limit. You would only have to pay additionally charges if you had an exceeding large amounts of traffic called bandwidth. The Internet via a Website allowed for Multimedia which was a big step forward. You could now have Sound, Pictures and Video all on your website to enhance the user experience. You could now offer many of the same services that the online information systems such as CompuServe were offering. This capability often led to the demise of companies such as this because “everybody and their mother” could do the same thing.

Today, my Bulletin Board which was accessed by dialing a phone number is now called up via my website bearing the same name Holman's World. I can offer what I offered on the Bulletin Board Service and much more because of the evolvement of the Information Age.

The Big Online Services like CompuServe provided the “neat and cool stuff”. I found their offerings were quite exciting. The offered very manageable discussion boards. I actually served as Discussion Board Leader in many of these online forums. I saw what the board looked like from an Administrative point and was impressed. Just as companies were developing products for the BBS users, they were also developing products for the Large Online Services as well. As the Online Services could have numerous amounts of users online, their message boards were very large and just trying to read everything was a challenge. Companies developed software that allowed users to read their messages offline whether for a large online service or a Bulletin Board Service, thus saving online cost. These Offline Readers (OLR) were key for all users as they could mark read messages and compose responses to be sent during their next online session, whether on a large online service or on a computer Bulletin Board Service.

In the Information Age, we’ve come a long way and it seems we still have a long way to go as today’s technology is history by tomorrow.

As I did with my Wall Street Article, I'd like to mention again an organization that has played a critical role in technological developements and that organization is BDPA Information Technology Though Leaders ( This organization was right at the forefront of the Bulletin Board Systems back in the day and had it's own FidoNet Style network called, BDPANET. Take at look at some the BDPA files from back in the day as well. Also the picture in this Blog post is me presenting an Internet Seminar at a BDPA National Conference actually during the time when the BDPANET and my BBS was in full swing. The Laptop Shown is what I actually used to run my BBS.

This paper mentioned the larger online services and offering such as Chat Sessions. I conducted some of them. What did they look like. Have Look at my Chat Logs from back in the day.

Lastly I tried to share an lesson on two on the regular and called them, "Information Highway Lessons".


Watch this video relative the Dawning of Age:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

How Wall Street looked to a high school student in the 1980s

There are many visions of Wall Street. Over the years and much has changed. Let me take you down memory lane just a little bit. For some this tour may be unclear, for some it may be a little clear and for others it may be crystal clear. Back in the 1980’s I started my journey on Wall Street.

I was a senior in high school at Andrew Jackson High School in Queens, N.Y., and had joined a Co-Operative education program (Co-Op). I’m not sure how many of these exist today. I had the opportunity to work one full week with pay and then go to school the following week. A high school student stepping on to Wall Street for the first time was an experience like no other.

The first adjustment to the adult world was being told that I could address the adults by first name as opposed to “Mr” or “Mrs” or “Ms.” As I did with my High School teachers. I was very fortunate to work for a well-established firm called, The Morgan Guaranty Trust Company. As it is today, it was then that the firms wanted to ensure that students experiencing the firm for the first time got very familiar with the industry and the firm. Training back then, involved visiting a room where you were equipped with a cassette tape player, cassettes, booklets and headphones. I remember hearing words like “manifold” referring to trading tickets. You don’t here that too often now if at all. The training tapes gave information about the various departments and the company itself.

I did not feel completely out of place as I also found number of other High School Co-Op students working in my same section at the company. I handled the “manifold” tickets relative to trades that had been entered. I worked in the section called “Ticket Check Off”. The Department was called Government Bond. Here I saw trade tickets relative to what I would soon learn were Fixed Income trades such as Treasuries as well as Money Market Instruments such as Certificates of Deposit and Bankers Acceptances.

As I reflect back now what was most interesting was that that I not only got to “see” the manifold tickets relative to these instruments I also got to see the instruments themselves. This was the 1980’s and many of the instruments of the day were in physical form. I got to see US Treasury Notes with the interest payment “coupons attached”. We would attached a one copy of a multi-ply manifold ticket to the Treasury by using what then a “T-Pin” which I have not seen in ages. I was informed one day I would be delivering some Treasuries to the Federal Reserve Bank down the street (we were located on Broad Street across from the NY Stock Exchange). We had an armed Security Guard Accompany us. I later realized that as many of the instruments of the day were in “bearer” form they could literally be cashed by whoever said it was theirs.

Working in Government Bond was an excellent learning experience. I got involved with the daily proof and reconciliation. We reconciled with a group of individuals that were enclosed behind a window called “The Cage”. We ran a calculation tapes on huge calculators that took up most of a desk and used two copy calculator tape (on copy being a carbon copy). We would balance the general ledger tickets that had passed throughout the day.

There were no personal computers as we know them today. For me as a High Schooler, my taste of the Internet was during my "school week" I was able to go into a High School Room and dial-up an on line services. I would need to dial the number on the telephone and then put down the handset on some acoustic couplers (shaped like the phone mouth and ear piece) that was attached to a printing (not display) terminal. The Session information would print out on the long printer as opposed to on a display system. News and other other information would print out. That was it for the "The Net" in those days! Read more on the Technology of those days on my latest Blog.

As with most High School Students of the day, the highlight was lunch time. Most interesting enough lunch was free. Not only that, on those occasions when we had to work late we also got free dinner via a “supper pass”. For me the work, the experience and the food, was the life!

More Information:

Organizations helping Youth in Financial Services and Information Technology at the High School and College Level in New York (Local Chapters have links to their respective National Offices):

Urban Financial Services Coalition New York Chapter

BDPA Information Technology Thought Leaders New York Chapter