From JNA to Eternity – 40 Years of constant change – The Birth

PunchCards were the original means of loading programs and data to the Computer …well before keyboards on dumb terminals or PCs

The story begins in the late 70s a time when change in the world was about to really accelerate.

The PC and the Fax Machine had not yet been invented … a geek called Bill Gates had just started Microsoft, Computers were called Mainframes they cost a million dollars and occupied large rooms with sophisticated air-conditioning and fire proofing.

Data was stored on large 64 kb disks and input using 80 Column punch cards.

And then IBM introduced their System/3 family of smaller computers which used 96 column punch cards

Then along came John Neller at a time when large companies outsourced Payroll calculation, reporting and management to Bureaus such as TNT and Mayne Nickless….  who were in that business because they also transported the cash in the form of pay envelopes. Continue reading From JNA to Eternity – 40 Years of constant change – The Birth

Do you need a HandUp or a HandOut?

hand upI was interested but not surprised to hear lots of outrage when the last Australian budget announced cuts to various StartUp/Innovation/Entrepreneur finding programs.   Along with cuts in almost every area of Govt in an endeavour to get the books back in balance.

Rather than provide grants and no strings attached funding to people who have good ideas I believe the Government should be supporting in other ways.  Providing introductions and bestowing credibility and then getting out of the way is the best thing any Government agency can do.

With the exception of research and development that is not commercially viable budding entrepreneurs should not be putting their hand out but merely asking for a hand up … and this might mean helping them to cut through the red or green tape.

There are plenty of investment sources out there looking for opportunities that are at least commercially viable. But generally the want to know one thing and one thing only before they will be interested ….. Is there a customer for this and will they pay the asking price.

As such rather than wait on Govt funding, perhaps now budding entrepreneurs will do what they should always have done before starting work!!  Having identified the customer that will pay then ask for some up front payment ….  Think CrowdFunding … but failing that find an investor and tell them all about your customers.

And when it comes to investors ..

remember if you are going to rob a bank perhaps you should hold up a few service stations along the way…..


Continue reading Do you need a HandUp or a HandOut?

COBOL – Everything old is new again

Cobol Nested IfA while a ago  I compared my computing past with my computing present when I looked at what Apple Macs and old IBM Mainframes have in common

And then I talked about developing an Appllication Program Interface (API)  back in the 80s when we didn’t know what an API was.

And now I am returning to my roots as a failed COBOL programmer…  although I always say the best boss I ever had John Neller saved the world from more bad code by moving me into a marketing role as Austpay Product Manager.

The more I see of the evolution of “programming” the more I see things coming back to simple logical English like languages like COBOL that almost anyone can use. Continue reading COBOL – Everything old is new again

Want to be an Entrepreneur? – Find an Unmet need at a time when there is a unique opportunity available to you.

neller_logoIn the late 60s John Neller was a mild manner Accountant at the Bank of Adelaide with a keen interest in Fixed Asset Accounting. As such he was acutely aware that much of the approach to Fixed Asset Accounting was quite different to the practices in other parts of the world.

But he was unaware that the opportunity would arise for him to create a company that played a very significant part in the development of the Australian computer software industry – Neller Software

In fact he saw an unmet need in computerised accounting systems becoming available at the time as they were not designed to meet the specific needs of Australia. But in those days software was bundled with hardware and was built to meet major e.g. USA market needs.

So the choice was clear create your own or go along with what the market offered which was not easy to  modify

But when IBM, who were are the time the main supplier of hardware and software for big business adopted a new marketing policy in 1969 John saw the opportunity to capitalise on this unmet need in the Australian market .

“Until this time customers did not pay for software or services separately from the very high price for leasing the hardware. Software was provided at no additional charge, generally in source code form; services (systems engineering, education and training, system installation) were provided free of charge at the discretion of the IBM Branch office. This practice existed throughout the industry. Quoting from the abstract to a widely read IEEE paper on the topic:

“ Many people believe that one pivotal event in the growth of the business software products market was IBM’s decision, in 1969, to price its software and services separately from its hardware. ”

Continue reading Want to be an Entrepreneur? – Find an Unmet need at a time when there is a unique opportunity available to you.

Want to be an Entrepreneur? – First find a customer and make a sale!

similar to the machine used at Chrysler Aust in the 70s
IBM Maniframe – System 360 – similar to the machine used at Chrysler Aust in the 70s

In the late 70s I was a very young up and coming Analyst/Programmer in the DP Department at Chrysler Australia. Among the 3 systems I had some responsibility for was payroll…. an archaic in house developed system written in COBOL which ran on what was at the time a million dollar computer an IBM Mainframe … a System 360 Model 40.

One day my boss came to me to tell me he had been invited to attend a seminar at John Neller and Associates along with some other big name companies that used IBM Mainframes (inc Bank of NSW (now Westpac), SAGASCO ( now Envestra) ES &A Bank (now defunct)) to look at developing a computerised Payroll packaged system to meet the specific needs of Australia. Continue reading Want to be an Entrepreneur? – First find a customer and make a sale!