The Trouble with Gerrold: FileMaker Pro advances
June 1, 2012 —
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Related Search Term(s): FileMaker Pro
The first personal computers were 8-bit machines, running an Intel 8080 chip at 2MHz. The state of the art was an S-100 motherboard. If you could afford it, you had 64KB of RAM to work with. If you could afford it, you had a floppy disk drive that could hold 90KB of data on a disk. If you could afford it, you bought a clock card. If you could afford it, you bought a card with a parallel port for a printer—if you could afford a printer. By the time you added a video monitor and keyboard, you were probably spending as much as $3,000.
In those days, you didn’t have a lot of choices for software. You had WordStar for word processing, dBase II for programming your own databases, and eventually you also had Lotus 1-2-3, a spreadsheet.
At the time, it seemed as if those were the three legs of the productivity tripod. If you bought a computer for business, you needed to be able to write letters and reports, you needed to do your bookkeeping, and you needed to keep track of your contacts and your inventories. While you could go to work immediately with your word processor and your spreadsheet, your database software required you to spend some time designing and creating your own specific applications. Most people didn’t want to do that; they didn’t want to learn programming, they just wanted to be able to manage their data and share it with others.
Today, 35 years later, you still need a word-processing program and you still need a spreadsheet, but specific-function database programs have replaced the need for a roll-your-own system. Just about every social network includes contact management. There’s free software for cataloging and playing your music and video files. There are plenty of free services for cataloging your photos, both on your hard drive and online. You can even manage your to-do-list and your daily calorie count.
If you need custom databases, there are plenty of those too. You can use Readerware and a barcode scanner for cataloging books, CDs, DVDs and Blu-rays. Other programs keep track of your comics, stamp collection, baseball cards, collectibles, anything that can be counted and categorized. You can use PaperPort to scan and catalog documents; you can use OneNote and Info Select to stash raw notes and outlines.