Monday, January 25, 2010

Continental Cablevision and the Apple IIc

The first real paid contract software job that Mr. Alessi and I did was for a local cable company called Continental Cablevision. I guess with a name like that they must have had grand ambitions, but I'm sure they don't exist anymore. We got this work through a fellow named James Foster, who was an associate of Mr. Alessi's.

The business model for cable TV was different back then. They actually had real sales reps, and they would call people up and try to sell cable TV service. The packages would have different options and depending on how successful the rep was at selling these to the customer, commission was paid appropriately. This is what our Apple II application was for, computing sales commissions and payroll.

I was new to this, and quite naive. When we went to the customer site (one in Needham, Massachusetts and one in nearby Natick), I found myself making mistakes in the way I disclosed information. The people who worked there were pretty good at getting my to talk about things that I should have been more discreet about; For example, how easy or hard it would be add certain features. I was a member of a team, and needed to act appropriately. This was a good lesson for me, and it sticks with me.

In the Natick office for Continental Cablevision they had the miniaturized version of the Apple II, called the Apple IIc. These machines were really small, about the size of a laptop computer, but of course the screen was separate. Apple sold very small screens that looked appropriate for the size of the Apple IIc. It was a complete Apple II, and it was cute. Brains and beauty in one package.

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