Pretend you are now the English scientist known simply as “Time Traveller”. You sit down in a contraption you have called the “Time Machine”, you dial back to 1986 and hit the big green button.
The Apple IIe has been out for 3 years now, and the Enhanced IIe was released early last year. The Mac Plus came out at the beginning of this year. The IBM XT 286 is fresh on the market, and Intel recently announced that the 386 will be available soon. Zelda and Mario Bros are rocking it with the brand new Nintendo Entertainment System.
During this time, a team of Ph. D profs and software developers worked with Dr. Dwayne Gardner and Dr. Arthur Wohlers to produce the “Enrollment Projection System”. The idea behind this new-fangled piece of software was to use trend lines based on inputted data to forecast (project) future enrollment patterns. They wrote it so was rather user-friendly, and could be run on either the IBM PC or the Apple IIe. I am guessing it was written in BASIC.
Ok, you can wake up now. It is 2011. 25 years later. Dr. Wohlers passed away in 2008. Seneca Software, Inc, was merged into Courthouse Technologies and filed away on a now dusty shelf. Dr. Gardner was, somewhat recently, leading the Planning Advocates group, which has been defunct for a little while now. To this day, Unit 4 is using this piece of software to project how many students will be registering for school next year. I would be very curious how “user-friendly” the Unit 4 staff consider this antique piece of code. They probably have an old XT sitting around for the sole purpose of running this dinosaur. 🙂
The User Manual is actually a rather insightful document, although it is a little hard on the eyes. I tried to convert it to a Word friendly document, but with mixed results (not posted). I find it extremely telling that the Demographic Survey we paid handsomely for is within 1% accuracy of this dated, but apparently useful tool.
I have this idea of migrating this to the 20th century. Maybe rewrite it in java and put a gui on it. I have also been exploring ArcGIS tools, and with the Census information available, I am thinking we could even automate the projections based on publicly available data feeds. Don’t need a high-priced outfit to tell you how your population has and will change.
But, given our current directions, this ain’t gonna be happening any time soon. I’ll just keep dreaming for now. And reminiscing about Combat on the Atari 2600……