Monday, April 6, 2015

Imagine if you will...............................

      For bankers in the sixties, the computer was arcane and mysterious.  The IBM mainframe computer had given rise to an entirely new race of mutant humans known as programmers and analysts, who spoke a strange language, carried pens in plastic pocket-protectors, and thrived on the power that their unique knowledge gave them over ordinary mortals.  "The banks were having a tough time coping with the computer," said Tom Paine, the rocket scientist and former consultant to Citibank.  "The information revolutions at the time was full of magic and sorcerers.  It was a closed technology, and if your weren't a computer programmer you couldn't hope to fathom it."  Paine remembers when computer departments would ask top management yearly for increases of 20 to 40 percent in computer-related expenses, and the bankers had no idea whatsoever whether these requests were reasonable or absurd.  Bankers, Paine said, fell victim to almost every snake oil computer salesman who got in the door and waxed enthusiastic about the incredible power computers had to solve every problem.  All of them would begin by pointing to the terminal and saying, "Imagine, if you will..."
-Phillip L. Zweig,  Wriston:  Walter Wriston, Citibank, and the Rise and Fall of American Financial Supremecy

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