Today BDB Computer Systems is involved with the supply and maintenance of PC
systems, as well as with ongoing software development, Web site development, training etc.
BDB Computer Systems started life in Kimberley,
South Africa, in 1982. Originally its primary function was the sale and
maintenance of Apple II and first generation Apple Mac computers, together with the design and sale of software
for them. In those days we had an innovative little program called "Visi-Calc".
This was the forerunner of Lotus, Excel and the plethora of spreadsheet programs
currently available. We would put the program floppy disk (180K capacity)
in one disk drive, and a data disk in the other drive. If you only had one
drive you had to play disc jockey, swapping between program and data disc as
instructed by the program. There was no such think as "on-screen
help" - so you had a printed manual to work with. The typical Apple
computer had 64K of RAM - but if you had a fairly unlimited budget or needed to
do some heavy calculations you could install 128K. One of the first
systems we sold in 1982 comprised 64K RAM, three (yes, THREE! ) floppy drives, a
9" black & white monitor, and a (high speed! ) 80cps dot matrix printer.
supplied an accounting program with it, together with Visi-Calc, and presented
our client with an account for around R8000 - at a time when a decent new family
saloon cost some R12,000.
Around 1984 Apple pulled out of South Africa, leaving the
market wide open for the IBM PC, rapidly followed by the IBM XT, and of course
all the clones. By that time, hard disks were the thing to talk about at
your Friday evening session with the boys. So anyone who considered
himself anyone at all was running a 10Mb (yes, ten megabytes) hard disk - and the real fundis
were installing up to 640 Kb of RAM. It is rumoured (although I suspect
that this may belong in the category of "urban legends") that Mr. Gates,
referring to the Microsoft imposed limit of 640K, said that "nobody would ever need more than
640K". In those days a decent IBM system (640K, 10 Mb Hard Disk,
12" Green-screen monitor, a reasonable printer and some software to help
run your business could easily set you back R12-13,000 - the cost of a small family
saloon. But, if you were prepared to take your chances with a
"clone" then you could save quite a couple of thousand.
we have progressed quite a way. The system I'm composing this web site on
is a fairly average one by today's standards - a Pentium 2.2 processor, 1Gb
RAM, a 160 Gb Hard Disk, Scanner, ADSL modem, DVD Writer, Laser Printer etc. And it sells for very little more
than that first Apple
I sold back in the dark ages! I can only wonder where on earth will we be
in another 20 years time? I have thought about trying to extrapolate recent trends into
the future, to get an idea of what may happen. However, I have come to the
conclusion that the most likely results of such an exercise will be that I will
1) waste a lot of time and effort and 2) be hopelessly wrong. So, in the
interests of sanity and professional prudence, I say nothing.