The Development of Information Systems

All of the new companies and businesses that were forming during the post-war period required complex information systems. Many of the early computers from IBM were little more than very large and very accurate adding machines. The ‘B’ in ‘IBM’ is for ‘business.’ These machines were created to help businesses run more smoothly and accurately. The people who worked to sell business machines during their early days were benefiting from the new surplus of talented salesmen.

The machines that were produced during this time period were enormous and only had so many applications. Few people from this time period could have predicted personal computers or anything of the kind. Still though, they set the stage for the personal computers that would arrive on the scene during the 1980s, and which would come to dominate the culture of the world by the 1990s.

Information systems themselves weren’t commonly used in businesses until around the middle of the 1960s. They were becoming more popular throughout the 1950s, but the 1950s was really where everything got started. It was more of a launching point for the success that would follow. Once the 1960s was well underway, the businesses that weren’t using information systems were starting to get left behind. Many businesses could not yet afford them, however. Even though business owners saw the advantages of getting complex information systems, they were prohibitively expensive through the 1950s and the early and mid-1960s.

The TELEX machine made all the difference in terms of the development of modern information systems. Business-people operating at different points within a given organization were capable of communicating much more efficiently and effectively than ever before, which helps them save money each and every time and made all the difference in terms of their long-term development. Machines like TELEX also helped set a new standard throughout the industry.

Accountants and their departments made use of information systems first, at least within businesses. Information systems were largely their domain. The role of information systems began to expand significantly as the technology-involved came down in price. A good portion of the history of technological development has proceeded along similar trajectories at some point or another.

The prototypes of most technological systems are very expensive. They are often so expensive that only the wealthiest organizations can ever hope to own them. These organizations will become successful as a result of these new technologies. Research and development into that technology continues, since the success of the prototypes has generated interest, and it may have directly increased the funding involved. The researchers make several important discoveries, and they are able to improve upon the original concepts involved. They release new lines of products, which are available for a comparatively low amount of money. Now, smaller businesses and wealthy individuals are able to afford them.

Research and development continues at that point. The technologies that are under development soon become part of mainstream culture in a direct or an indirect fashion. The general public has more interest in those technologies. Before long, they fall into the hands of the general public. Decades of research and development have made that possible. As more and more people become interested in the products, they are able to come down in price as a result of the economies of scale. Once more members of the general public become interested in them, the technologies come down in price even further and they more or less become part of the social fabric.

The trajectory of technological development produces plenty of interesting ironies that often only reveal themselves retrospectively. For one thing, the prototype of a piece of cutting edge technology is often the most unimpressive item in the entire lineage, and yet it is often the most expensive item of all. It certainly didn’t look unimpressive when it was made, or it would not have inspired an entire technological lineage, of sorts. It’s also ironic that the rich are the early adopters who more or less end up paying more for items that are going to look unimpressive by the time everyone’s even aware of them. If they had waited a decade or so, they’d be paying less for better items. However, wealthy early adopters are often part of the process, and the irony only serves to add a layer of intrigue to the situation.

Daniel