Not Enough Experience

It was 1960. I had been working for General Electric thirteen years, the last two as a Computer Programmer. I had fallen into the job accidentally but it was working out. I saw an advertisement one day from a Job Placement Service. I thought I’d call to see how valuable my job was in the Job Market.

I phoned the number in the ad and a friendly female voice responded. I told her that I was a computer programmer and was seeking a change. She asked for and I gave her some information as to my name, address, and phone.

She seemed interested and asked how much experience I had in this occupation. Caught by surprise by the question I blurted out the first number that came into my mind. About twenty-five years, I stated.

“Twenty-five years?” she asked, obviously astonished.

“Yes,” I responded, but now had an inkling that this number had something wrong with it.

“Thank you for calling,” she said and abruptly hung up.

It was not until I began teaching computers a year or so later that I realized how implausible my response had been. It was not until 1946 that the ENIAC (Electrical Numerical Integrator and Calculator) had been invented by John Mauchley and John Presper Eckert at the University of Pennsylvania. This machine is often credited as being the first calculating machine that deserved the title, computer.

I think the woman I was speaking to didn’t believe I had twenty five years experience with computers.

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