WCIT MONITOR Issue 66 Dec 2015 - Page 20

MONITOR CHARITY WCIT History: The Reminiscences Series 1. WCIT Founder Member John Handby I was one of the original 100 Founder Members of the WCIT (although for the first few years we were not of course ‘Worshipful’!) and my perspective on that time may be of interest. In 1987 I was working as Group Director of The Post Office (the CIO term was not really used in those days) and was approached as one of the senior members of the industry to help establish the new Company. The technology backdrop at that time was rather different from that of today and serves to emphasize the hectic pace at which our sector continues to move. In 1987 the industry was still dominated by IBM with Microsoft as an emerging force. The PC remained a mere juvenile, networks were crude and the Internet had yet to become a reality outside defence and academic circles. Our plans in The Post Office reflected the times with the following highlights:  building an IT infrastructure to serve the constituent businesses (The Post Office and BT had only been split about 5 years earlier and we desperately needed to develop our own systems);  putting in place a second IBM mainframe centre to provide extra capacity and resilience for corporate-wide systems;  installing a regional network of Digital (DEC) machines in major sorting offices and linked terminals/PCs locally. Software development and operations were largely in-house, with major systems being developed for mail route planning and trace & track for parcels (including early mobile devices). The majority of staff were directly employed with no significant reliance on consultants or contractors. When we came together within the WCIT in those early days it was really like a roll call of the industry – including most of the senior IT Directors of the time and the CEOs of the major suppliers. Because of this our gatherings were very lively and provided a great opportunity to come together to discuss and debate the burning issues of the day. What I remember was the vitality and excitement of it all and the sense of pulling together to create a very new kind of company within the venerable institutions and traditions of City livery companies. I well recall our first AGM, standing around in a circle in a livery hall (I forget which one) in black tie with Barney Gibbons presiding as Master. It was over in 2 minutes and we then went into dinner! Contributions for the Reminiscences series are invited to be sent to the honorary historian Joan Smith. Please contact eleanor@wcit.org.uk if you would like to speak with Joan. Page 20