On October 1, 2014, we begin our 28th year providing asset management software and services. Looking back at the tools we were able to provide our customers and the computers we used to provide services brings a wince of nostalgia and a repressed chuckle. Check out the first scanners that were state-of-the-art back then.
This remarkable scanner was manufactured and distributed by Mars Electronics, a division of the company better known for candy bars. At the time they had a deep skill set in scanning currency for vending machines and decided to leverage this in the Auto ID industry. The early units used a version of DOS, had a 32 character screen and 16k of RAM on board.
The handle housed the battery and the keyboard swiveled for convenience. This was the first self-contained portable scanner available. For early units, they were surprisingly reliable but a challenge to program and, because of the small screen, featured a cryptic user interface.
This wonderful device communicated, somewhat reliably, through the serial port to a PC with a 286 processor and a 20 megabyte hard drive. Bar code reports were printed on a trusty dot matrix printer that sounded like a car alarm as each bar code was printed. How we managed to get a day’s work done is hard to believe.
But what has not changed are the fundamentals of what makes an exceptional asset management program. Accurate and efficient data collection, adaptability of the user environment, robust reporting, flexible import/export, complete reporting, relational design and thorough data validation are as important today as they were in 1987. Moreover, the importance of client support is arguable more important than ever before. Larger databases, more complex systems and network designs and faster paced environments place a premium on up-time and responsive solutions.
While we take a moment to reflect on our origins, we are ever mindful of the importance and excitement of integrating the best of new technology. RFID, mobile deployments and cloud based access are but a few of the areas of rapid change affecting fixed asset tracking systems and those who provide them.