Blog de Cristian Fiedler

Dedicado a quienes gustan de la tecnología, en especial a la relacionada con La informática, la Inteligencia de Negocios, las telecomunicaciones, etc., etc..

martes, 26 de enero de 2010

Primeros pasos: Un sistema para una industria Química

A finales de 1981, año en el cual el 12 de Agosto nacía el “IBM PC”, un amigo de la familia, socio de una empresa Química de Viña del Mar al saber que yo estudiaba algo relacionado con “Computadores”, se me acerca a preguntar acerca de “computación”. Sus conocimientos del tema no eran superiores a los de cualquier mortal de los que nacieron antes de la TV, por lo que una explicación no iba a ser tarea fácil…Antes de siquiera responder algo, pregunté cuál era el objetivo real de su curiosidad y la respuesta fue por decir lo menos, inesperada. En la práctica no le interesaba gran cosa sino que saber precios ya que quería “sistematizar” las operaciones de la empresa porque intuía que mas temprano que tarde, las empresas abrazarían la tecnología y ellos NO podían quedar atrás. En palabras simples, nuestro amigo no sabía que había que hacer pero quería hacer algo. Esto era una oportunidad de oro para un estudiante en sus últimos años por lo que NO dudé en aceptar el desafío. Antes e seguir con los detalles, cabe hacer un paréntesis para situarse en la época y de que se disponía. Las grandes empresas tenían sus grandes equipos ya sea IBM, Burroughs, Texas Instruments, Honeywell, NCR, DEC, y otros monstruos de valores estratosféricos. Por otro lado, existían los primeros microcomputadores basados en el famoso Z80, Atari 400, 800, etc., Commodore, Tandy TRS-80, algunos Apple 2, etc.. Nada de esto era realmente orientado a las empresas sino a algunos locos o fanáticos de la tecnología y punto.

Ahora bien, volviendo a nuestro amigo, el visualizaba la computación como teclados conectados a un televisor y por ende los costos debían ser “razonables”. Antes de pensar en un sistema tuve que confesarle que lo mas probable es que los costos fueran “altos” al punto que, descontando mis propios honorarios, quizá podría cambiar mas de algún auto… Lo mas increíble que a pesar de todo no se amilanó y con sus socios decidieron dar el gran salto: Pasar de un procesamiento 100% manual a controlar lo básico como Cuentas Corrientes de Clientes, Inventario y Facturación en una modalidad sistematizada.

El desafío: Hacer un sistema “simple” para usuarios que jamás habían tenido interacción alguna con la computación. Compré un computador VECTOR CPM 5800 con 2 disketteras externas de 5 ¼ “ “Hard Sectored” cuya capacidad era increíble para la época: 798 KB. (IBM PC salió al mercado con unidades de 360Kb mientras que la mayoría de los diskettes de 5 ¼” solo almacenaban 140Kb) En fin, con ese Hardware, y sin un lenguaje mas que el “Monitor” de la máquina y una versión muy precaria de Basic (sin archivos indexados por lo que todas las “claves” se confeccionaron con técnicas de “hashing”), en un plazo menor a 1 mes y con la sola ayuda de un compañero de universidad, nuestro amigo contó con un sistema operando y en tan buenas condiciones que PAGÓ mas de lo que le cobré. Lo interesante de todo esto es que operaron con ese computador por varios años, y cuando definitivamente ya no daba mas (amén de que comenzaron a desaparecer los diskettes Hard sectored), me volvieron a llamar para hacer todo de nuevo, y luego otra vez y otra vez. Fui testigo de las mayores mutaciones que un mismo sistema puede tener ya que de Basic pasamos a Pascal a Cobol y finalmente a un AS/400 con servicio en todas las oficinas y pantallas para muchos funcionarios. Lo mas rescatable de este desafío para mi sin duda fue el hecho de que nuestro amigo me entregó la confianza para que lo resolviera absolutamente todo, tarea que creo haber cumplido a cabalidad.

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