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Dead At 92, Business Computing Pioneer David Caminer 142

Posted by timothy
from the 92-and-holding dept.
Brooklyn Bob points out this fascinating obituary of David Caminer, the first systems analyst. "The tea company he worked for developed their own hardware and software — in 1951! Quoting New Scientist: 'In today's terms it would be like hearing that Pizza Hut had developed a new generation of microprocessor, or McDonald's had invented the Internet.'"
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Dead At 92, Business Computing Pioneer David Caminer

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 29, 2008 @05:43PM (#23993631)

    And I'll say it again. The British take their tea very seriously. It should surprise nobody that a tea company would be working on microcomputers. After all, these are the same companies that started wars and colonized new lands.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 29, 2008 @05:45PM (#23993649)
    God save the queen!
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Sunday June 29, 2008 @05:50PM (#23993675)

    The best solutions don't come from engineers sitting around brainstorming. It's almost exclusively domain-specific knowledge that only practitioners have that makes good systems good. Lyons needed account tracking software for their tea and bakery business, and it's likely that there was simply no idea at IBM or any other "computer" shop that such a need existed.

    Engineers are pretty much replaceable cogs in software development. It's the people who have real world needs that require real world solutions that bring these things into existence.

  • Tea company? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by HJED (1304957) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @05:52PM (#23993685)
    The article said the company owned tea shops not that it was a tea company.
  • Re:McDonalds? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao@@@hotmail...com> on Sunday June 29, 2008 @05:55PM (#23993701) Homepage
    Is it an analogy at all? "Wow, a food shop made their own computer. That's just like... another food shop making their own computer!"
  • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @06:18PM (#23993873)

    Super-size your internet, drive-thru downloads, I'm lovin' it.



    Didn't MS already do that? I mean your browser has to look rather super-sized with all those spyware toolbars, and drie-thru downloads are a lot like the drive-by downloads that IE has....

  • by westlake (615356) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @06:58PM (#23994115)
    these machines had about as much memory as a sheet of notebook paper, and were glacially slow at calculations. What kind of tasks could be worth the expense of building one?

    glacially slow by what standard? the mechanical adding machine? you could have half your office staff performing routine calculations with all the opportunities for error that implied.

  • by moosesocks (264553) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @07:32PM (#23994329) Homepage

    According to Douglas Adams, in the future, computers will be making beverages for us that are "almost but not quite, entirely unlike tea"

  • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday June 29, 2008 @08:20PM (#23994641) Homepage

    Engineers are pretty much replaceable cogs in software development. It's the people who have real world needs that require real world solutions that bring these things into existence.

    Try looking at a real mechanical machine with a broken cog. Not only does it tend to bring the machine to a halt, it can also do permanent damage. Yes, you can replace good cogs with other good cogs but try replacing good cogs with poor cogs and see how far you'll get. Sure all requirements come from the "real world", I'd just like to point out that often the requirements have been there, the money/manhours to it has been there and yet it's spectacularly failed at bringing things into existance.

    It's a widely idealized rumor that companies are so dynamic and innovative - once you get some experience you realize most struggle at reaching "not dysfunctional". If I was in any software business and had a not dysfunctional design team, not dysfunctional development process, not dysfunctional test/QA process, not dysfunctional sales and marketing team and a not dysfunctional HR and recruitment process, I'd be ecstatic. Why? Because I'm sure almost any product we'd go for would be a winner.

    Just to throw out an example, take Dell. "Sell low-cost custom-assembled computers directly over the Internet" basicly sums up the whole original business idea, and probably took about five minutes, and the business requirements aren't far behind. Creating the system to actually deliver on that was all the hard work, and it's far from the only example. Many companies have really simple business plans when it comes down to it, they just execute them exceptionally well. Unless you're heading into completely new dotcom economy fields you can be pretty sure there's money in doing things better than the competition.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 30, 2008 @06:37AM (#23998151)

    and there are still problems where an analogue computer will outperform a digital computer at the same task.

    I'm calling bullshit on this Sir.

    Care to elaborate?

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