Were rabbit trappers the JAVA programmers of their time?

Recently in Hobart, Tasmania I meandered through what is called “The Soldiers Walk”. The Soldiers Walk is a gentle 2-3km walk with bronze plaques laid in front of a specially planted cedar tree. Each plaque uniquely represents a citizen of Hobart who had passed away through the course of the Great War. There are some 600 of these plaques, each outlining rank, age, religious denomination, a brief description of their service record and their occupation. All in all a quite melancholic and touching experience reimagining their lives all cut short by the horrors of war.


rabbitOn the walk what struck me was the occupation of the soldiers, that as much as there were carpenters, teachers, solicitors, farmers; many of the occupations no longer exist or only in very small numbers. There were compositors, telegraph mechanics, plenty of stonemasons, clerks by the dozen, haberdashers, tannery workers, trappers, loom operators amongst many others. Many of these jobs died because of technology/ automation, global outsourcing, changes in fashion, lifestyle and the like….it’s all so logical in hindsight. Logical at least until I read that there were 20,000 trappers working full-time in the rabbit industry in 1929 throughout SE Australia, plus many others working across the supply chain. Many made serious coin, often 3 times what a builder or carpenter might make. Were rabbit trappers the JAVA programmers of their time? Will someone write an article regarding the quaint and fascinating world of the UX designer 100 years from now? So, yes looking in the rear view mirror it all makes sense, but as for the future well …speculate away!

Starting in IT recruitment in 1983 (no apology offered!), my first placement was a Honeywell Level 6 Screenwrite programmer. I hear you! It sounds like something assembled by one of the AI engines from Space Odyssey. Further placements that year (checking my handwritten diary of the time) included a DEC RSX systems programmer (hot in the defence/real-time space), a Sperry Vortex V77 operator – this still sounds a little apocalyptic! An ICL2900/DME systems programmer – even then, as it sounds now, this was not the sharp edge of the wedge and probably my finest placement that year a Perkin Elmer (fast super mini for transaction environments) C code compiler designer. I could bore you endlessly about PICK gurus, Primos experts, CDC Kronos OS guns and so on. Mind you, just like now the best guys wanted to work with the best teams, with all the latest toys and know that their skills were in serious demand. On that front nothing has changed.

So if you don’t wish to be tomorrow’s rabbit trapper, the moral of the story is clear – STAY RELEVANT! Communicate with us to talk about “How to Pelt a Rabbit” and much more!!!


What are your thoughts on the progression of technology over time?  We’d love to hear from you. Contact us at social@mantechit.com.au


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Cameron Gillies

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