I read two graduation speeches that blogger Tuckshop Boy has posted at his website. The speakers were Steve Jobs and Carly Fiorina. They reminded me of some pearls of wisdom that my own university professors handed out to us more than 3 decades ago.
I was studying at the newly set up Industrial and Systems Engineering Department of the then University of Singapore. Our head of department was a Professor Donald E. Morgan from the United States. One day, he made us write an essay, which was quite a novel thing then, maybe because it was generally accepted that engineers ‘cannot write’.
He wanted to know what we thought would be the impact of computers on society. Mind you, this was around 1974 or 75, way before the pc was even invented; when our own computer programs were written in Fortran IV on punch cards fed into our faculty’s IBM1130.
Shy to say, my answer reflected my ignorance and lack of foresight. I said something to this effect. “This computer thing is nothing special. It’s just another of man’s many inventions; no different from the bow and arrows that our ancestors used.”
I will always remember Professor Morgan’s comment when my essay came back. “But this is something that is going to have a huge impact on our society. A time will come when the computer will impact practically every aspect of our lives.”
I think at that time, the wise professor himself did not realize just how accurate his prediction was.
Next time, I will share with you what Professon Goh Thong Ngee wrote in our graduation magazine .. if I can find it that is.
Footnote: Through the power of the computer that Professor Morgan spoke about, I learned that he has just passed away about 2 weeks ago at the age of 90. Read his obituary here.
1) IBM 1130
2) Punch Cards
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