Wise Owl is 21 years old this year: 1992-2013
To celebrate our 21st birthday, we thought we'd look back on how software training has changed over the last 21 years.

Posted by Andy Brown on 23 April 2012

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Wise Owl's 21st Anniversary Year

Wise Owl began life on Friday 1st May 1992.  In this the year of our 21st birthday, we thought we'd take a moment to look back nostalgically to see what's changed in computer training over the last 21 years!

Base Knowledge has Increased

One of the biggest differences between now and 21 years ago is the base level of people's knowledge. It wasn't at all unusual in the early 1990s to train people who didn't know where the SHIFT key was or what it did; these days, it's a rare person who doesn't know - at least - how to open, close and save files, and how to cut, copy and paste.  The standardisation offfered by Microsoft Office is responsible for this, to a large extent.

Training is More Targeted Today

Another difference is that training has become much more targeted. Frequently in the old days companies would adopt the "sheep-dip" approach, and train everyone, regardless of ability or need-to-know. That kind of training is mercifully quite rare now, perhaps because companies and organisations these days exercise much tighter budgetary control. From the trainer's point of view, this is a welcome development.

Microsoft now Dominates Business Software

Software has changed too, although perhaps not as much as we might have predicted in 1992.  When we started out, the market was more fragmented.  Remember these software applications anyone?

Type of software Main applications in the early 1990s
Spreadsheet Lotus 1-2-3 for Windows, Excel 4.0, Quattro Pro, SuperCalc
Word processor WordPerfect for Windows, Word, Ami Pro, WordStar
Database DataEase, Lotus Approach
Graphics Freelance, PowerPoint

Lotus had a much larger market share than Microsoft, being particularly strong in spreadsheet and graphics packages.

It's unfashionable to say it, but I believe that the dominance of Microsoft has been good for the world (it's certainly been good for Microsoft).  What you need in computing is standards: without them, you wouldn't have the Internet, email, world-wide web ... or Windows.

The Rise of the Laptop and SmartPhone

One final change - computers knew where they belonged, which was usually the office.  Nowadays you can access computer software anywhere, thanks to notebooks, tablets and SmartPhones; in the early 1990s you were lucky if you had a laptop computer that you could carry!

This has made computer training more mobile.  Running a course at a customer's site was no small task in 1992, involving lugging large desktop computers around and connecting hundreds of cables.  These days, setting up a course can be as simple as powering up a few laptops.

 

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