Magazine article The CPA Journal

The CPA Journal at the Dawn of the Information Age

Magazine article The CPA Journal

The CPA Journal at the Dawn of the Information Age

Article excerpt

From the Editors

While the first "thinking machine" was invented in the 1940s, it took a good 30 years before computers were small and affordable enough to become common in the workplace. When it happened, though, CPAs were among the earliest adopters, and The CPA Journal documented the profession's ride through computer revolution.

The Journal ran its first feature pieces on CPAs and computers in the 1960s. The frequency of such pieces grew through the next decade, and December 1984 saw the introduction of a new regular column, "The Practitioner & the Computer." The earliest installments, written by David R. and Mary V. Campbell, introduced CPAs to the basics of hardware and software. Spreadsheets were covered in March 1985; a discussion of Lotus 1-2-3's macros feature noted that "it has proved difficult for some users to master," a sentiment modern readers can still sympathize with.

The costs and functionality of technology in the 1980s were very different from today. In the December 1987 column, Ronald E. Kaplan of ZeBrack and Morgan CPAs described his firm's 1984 acquisition of a local area network. The setup included "six work stations, 512K [kilobytes] of random access memory [RAM], [and] 62 megabytes of disk storage, all at a cost of just under $20,000." In comparison, the computer on which this article was written has 16 giga bytes of RAM and one tera byte of disk storage-and when new cost just under $1,800.

In the August 1988 column, William M. Winsor introduced readers to email, describing it as "considerably faster" than more traditional methods. The "entire process" of sending price and availability information to a customer "takes approximately one hour"-counting time for the secretary to write up the information in a formal letter. Clearly, a full understanding of the technology's capabilities was still to come.

With all this new technology came new dangers. …

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