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Embracing Change a.k.a. Comparing Apple and Abacus

AFO Associates, LLC

My Point of View

August 6, 2017 | Mark Matthew

Roman Abacus

Without trying to date myself, I remember back in the days of my early corporate finance career, when green ledger paper, white out, and a whole lot of paper and file cabinets were utilized to conduct day to day business operations. In school, I took tests to show speed and accuracy or “wpm” (words per minute) on a typewriter. Today my kids ask me “What’s a typewriter?!?” I tell them that it used to be THE state of the art way of writing up professional looking correspondence. In fact, it was the only way, and now, it is just obsolete. They just laugh. My 6-year-old son could already navigate a laptop and use a cellphone before he learned his ABC’s in kindergarten. I didn’t even think about typing until high school and for that matter, when I was in high school, “cellphone” wasn’t even a word! Yep, I went and did it, I dated myself…I am no spring chicken! That’s okay, I don’t consider age as a detriment. I look at myself, rather, as a well-seasoned bird!

Moving on…

Does anyone out there remember:

Triplicate Carbon-less Paper
Carbon Paper
  • Carbon paper: It used to make the worst handwritten copies. I liked

the new carbon-less triplicate forms. Top sheet was white, middle sheet yellow and 3rd sheet usually pink or blue. You had to write with a hammer and chisel in order to read the 3rd copy. Carbon paper was also used in early Brother Fax machines.

  • Microfiche: you needed a huge special monitor to view and print. Libraries used this tool as well.

Microfiche Reader

  • When a Library was where you went to get books for free, not have to buy them at a Barnes and Noble.

  • The Dewy Decimal System: you actually had to be IN a library to understand this system. I do remember that Math & Natural Science was under the 500’s, Applied Sciences – 600’s and Geography & History – 900’s. Today, when I ask my kids where the Technology books are, they say “Aisle 9 by Starbucks!”

  • Pay Phone Booth: When you needed a quarter to make a phone call OR know how to make a collect call (when you’re in jail you learn about collect calls real quick).

  • Beeper/Pager: when they only beeped or vibrated, usually when you’re in church. Doctors and Lawyers started using them first before they became trendy. They thought they were really something until they had to ask an ex-con how to make a collect call from a phone booth.

  • Oki-Data Printer:

The dinosaur of computer printouts! Talk about wasting paper. Green and white ledger paper with hole guides you had to line up and feed into the printer. It was perforated and folded in such a way so that if you lay the 1st few sheets down on the floor just right as it was printing, your 500 page report would stack nicely back and forth. Then you had to tear the perforated hole guides off and separate each individual sheet, take it to the copier and reduce the image so you can produce a report that can be reviewed by upper management. You also had to make sure you printed on the right side, not the green AND white side.

  • When a computer monitor’s display came in only 2 colors….green or orange. I preferred the green.(NY Jets Fan)

Floppy Disks
  • Floppy Disks: No, not those 3.5 double density disks that everyone loved, I’m talking those big 8” floppy disks that looked more like a vinyl record! My kids ask…”What’s a vinyl record?!?” ☹SIGH!

Anyways, I can go on and on… The whole point of this exercise is this, been there, done that, lived it, and other than vinyl records, would I go back to any of it in a business setting? Odds are no. Because of the advancements in technology, which btw, is still listed in the 600’s under the Dewey Decimal, now called a “Classification” System, the way we conduct daily business processes today has changed so dramatically in just a short period of time. Think about it. How much has changed in 20, 10, even just 5 years ago?

20 years ago, when you left work at 5PM, that was it until the next morning, zero hour, 9AM! - Elton John(Rocket Man-1972)

10 years ago, when you left work, your boss could still contact you by email on a Blackberry. (Blackberry is already considered old tech)

5 years ago, if you ever got to leave work, you are still totally accessible via desktop, tablet and mobile device.

Here is another example of how technology has changed in just a few short years:

“Alexa, play music!” and “Alexa, reorder more supplies!”

Where do you think technology will take us in just another 5-10 years?

Businesses that incorporate technological advancements to their advantage tend to move ahead. Look at Do you have a Prime account? Amazon created and just ran their 3rd annual Prime Day in mid-July 2017 with record sales. It’s Christmas year-round for Amazon! While we’re on the subject, I used to work for a retail company that went belly up because of a fierce competitor we all know as Wal-Mart. Did you think that anyone would ever challenge this MEGA RETAIL GIANT? Well, it took an Amazon (not Wonder Woman)!

Businesses that don’t evolve with the changing times tend to end their time as a business. A&P, Blockbusters, Borders, Circuit City, Linens & Things and Radio Shack just to name a few that recently have or are in the process of folding up their tents. Corporate America, a place where you can go thru Chapter 11 before you get to Chapter 7! Trust me, I’ve been through this story a few times. Neither of these chapters is a very good read and the ending was always bad.


If you are a business owner or thinking about starting your own business, consider all of the resources that you have at your disposal and use them to your advantage! Keep an eye on what is trending in the market and be prepared to adjust so your business can evolve with the changing times. Don’t be reluctant to change just because you are comfortable doing the same processes you have always been doing. Complacency can destroy any good run. A recent example of this is

Blackberry. In 2006, Blackberry controlled half of the world's smartphone market. Then in 2007, a guy named Steve Jobs took to the stage and said Apple had just re-invented the phone! We call it an iPhone. Blackberry reps said the iPhone was nothing to worry about, we'll be fine! In just 5 years, Blackberry went from a profit of 2 billion dollars to a loss of almost 6 billion! Today Blackberry is barely 1% of the smartphone market and my kids ask "What's a Blackberry?" If a billion dollar corporation like Blackberry can take a downturn like this, it can happen to any business! So in order for your business to grow, YOU, as the business owner, must grow with it. Embrace change and stay ahead of the competition.

That’s my point of view.

Another thought:

When you think of Aristotle, you think of logic. Some say Aristotle was the creator of the computer by utilizing just his mind and an abacus. His influence on philosophers set the table for the technological revolution that we are experiencing today.

Imagine what Aristotle would have done with an iPhone in his hand…

Imagine how many he would have influenced if he just had a website…

Aristotle Invents the Computer


“Mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about nor whether what we are saying is true.” - Bertrand Russell

Something I wanted to share:

My family and I visited a popular park in our area(Bergen County, NJ) the other day and I saw some writing on the wall that I appreciated and wanted to share. It went like this…