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Reflecting on 2020

Updated: Feb 21, 2023

A Simpler Time

Many people are posting how happy they are to be done with 2020, but reflecting on this past year, I think there are at least a few things to be thankful for…

While some of you might not remember it, there was once a world without the internet. That’s right. Just think about what it would have been like if we had the pandemic WITHOUT the internet. No Zoom, no remote working, no remote “gatherings” with friends and family – that would have made life much more difficult indeed! So, though it may have been (and continue to be) remotely at times, at least we have each other.

There are other seemingly minor things that we might be tempted to take for granted too, like the computer itself. Remember, PCs were only invented in 1981, and it wasn’t until the mid-90s that most people even had one in their homes. Now, most of us have at least one tiny computer in our pockets at all times! (Unfortunately, there are still some people who don’t have access to a computer, but there are many ways to donate!) Keep in mind, too, that the speed of the internet itself has changed as well, only getting truly commercially viable in the last few years or so. While it might’ve seemed lightning fast then, can you imagine trying to work remotely with a 300 baud modem now? No, thanks!

Yet, it was a different time then. In those early days, I remember we had a mini computer system called QANTEL that ran on its own proprietary hardware and operating system. It didn’t even have a modem, and there was no interface to the outside world. Eventually, PCs came along to replace that, and we soon received a request from our largest customer to participate in another wonderful innovation of technology, Electronic Data Interchange, to bring in their orders.

Excited at the opportunity, I bought a PC and set it up at home to learn how to use it. I bought a modem, wired it into my home phone line, turned it on, and all I saw was “C:>”. What the heck is that? To find the answer, I bought a book called Running MS DOS by Van Wolverton. (Again, this was before you could simply “Google” for the answer because Google didn’t even exist yet.) Well, now I’d really joined the computer age! Each week, I’d bring in the EDI, print it out at home, and physically transport the 200+ pages to work for someone to re-enter into our system manually…and we thought life was sweet!

So, all in all, as I reflect on those early days, I remember that, while there were times of great suffering in 2020, there were also times of great innovation, for which I have sincere gratitude. As we reflect on this past year, let’s choose to focus on positivity and gratefulness, and may we carry that with us into 2021 and beyond.

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