Twenty-One Years Ago
By Arnold Kling
Below is a random post.Our third daughter was born.
I was working in Financial Research at Freddie Mac. Freddie Mac had recently been turned loose from the Federal Home Loan Bank Board and was a publicly traded company. I had overseen the development of option pricing models for credit risk and interest-rate risk.
The information systems department was working on a project to redevelop Freddie Mac’s systems, which were still mostly mainframe programs written in the 1970’s. As far as I know, this project never was completed. My guess is that ten years later, during the Y2K scare, was when most of the redevelopment work took place. Even as late as 2003, the corporate systems used to produce its accounting statements could not stand up to scrutiny.
A lesson I learned from that is that if you don’t tear up your computer systems and start from scratch every few years, they end up dragging you down like an anchor. A few years later, when I had my own company, I was willing to overhaul our system any time we needed to upgrade in some way. Rewriting a system goes quickly if you do it often enough, and it gives you a chance to clean up all the garbage that accumulates in old systems.
Twenty-one years ago, there was no World Wide Web. America Online was launched at that time (transforming a previous company), primarily to serve gamers over a proprietary network. It did not use the Internet, which at that time was pretty much confined to engineers and scientists at some government agencies and major universities.
The Berlin Wall had recently fallen. The elder George Bush was President. The economy had been growing steadily with declining inflation for nearly seven years.
Sean Hannity was trying to break into radio. Paul Krugman had no public recognition, although he had served a stint as a staff economist with the Council of Economic Advisers under President Reagan. My most recent Presidential vote had been for Dukakis.
Much has changed in twenty-one years.