I was quite happy to notice that its another big celebration moment for my native Finland. This autumn brought 50 years of computers in Finland. And computers have been a very significant part of my life and professional career, so I have plenty to be personally happy about it too.
So I got into one of my "hey' that sounds like a fun research project" mood and 48 hours later with back-ache and sore joints and several gallons of coffee digested, I've now noticed that hey, I've been lost in research ha-ha, but also, that there is a good story here. Not only about Finland and its computing, but in several interesting ways to the world as well.
STARTED IN BRITAIN
So lets do a bit of overall history first. This is nice, I haven't done a big history of computers thing, its usually only been history of the internet part. But yes, after all the theories, the first practical, functional and used electric computer was also the biggest secret weapon of Britain in the Second World War, and arguably the second most powerful weapon after only the atom bomb (America's biggest secret).
It was the darkest moments in Britain's war, after the Battle of Britain had been won in the air - with the Royal Air Force beating the German Luftwaffe, the battle shifted to the seas - Royal Navy vs the Kriegsmarine. And while the government never admitted in public to how close they were to total collapse, the German U-boats were destroying the British ability to wage war, by sinking so many of the ships that the island nation needed to be able to supply its war effort. Anything from airplanes bought from America to oil to food.
Winning the war on the Atlantic was not going to win the war for Britain, but losing the war on the Atlantic would have Britain losing the war. So this weapon was not about winning, it was about not losing.
The submarines communicated with Germany using a coded radio signal, and the code was so immensely complex - called the Enigma - that the German scientists were confident it was unbreakable. Thousands of mathematicians could work day and night for years, decades, and not crack the code. Unbreakable.
Well, unbreakable by "existing means" sure. But the British tend to be very clever at inventing stuff. So here was the real national defeat at hand, an impossible problem, and one that humans alone could not solve. But perhaps they could develop a machine.
And so they did. The British built the Colossus. A 6.5 ton monster electric computer. They housed it in Bletchley Park and had the best team of genius mathematicians there to help break the Enigma code. And they did break it. The Colossus was able to decypher the German U-boat information, which then was very carefully used to stop U-boat success. If you knew where the submarine was, and sent airplanes and destroyers to go look for it there, to sink it, then it was far easier to hunt and kill submarines in waters as big as the Atlantic ocean.
The Colossus had an amazing calculating speed for its time of 5,000 calculations per second. Commercially produced computers made ten years later often did not match this speed. But the Colossus was a single-purpose device, not a "code breaking" computer even, but an "Enigma code breaking" machine. It could not even be used to try to hack other codes during the war like Japan's and Italy's codes; nor those of new enemies during the Cold War, such as the Soviet Union and China. The whole giant machine was built only to be able to solve the Enigma code cypher.
And they loved it so much, they built ten of them by the end of the war, to be able to decypher more of the German radio transmissions, also on ground and in the air, as the battle moved to the European mainland after the D-Day landings. By the end of the war, the Colossus machines and 550 mathematicians and code-breakers (plus a lot of translators) had decyphered over 63 million letters or perhaps 6 million words (German words tend to be long, ha-ha, like Finnish words). To put that in context, my newest book is about 100,000 words. So they translated command messages (which tend to be short-ish) that if printed out, would fill something like 60 hard-cover books...
But the Colossus was to also remain a secret and mystery, for a very long time. Winston Churchill was afraid that the machine and the process might be leaked to the Soviet Union - which was rapidly moving from ally to enemy in the weeks and months after the war - and Churchill ordered all Colossus machines to be destroyed so utterly, that no parts bigger than the size of a hand, should remain.
And then the biggest British secret was buried deep into the vaults of the Official Secrets Act for decades to come. Most early histories of computing never mention the Colossus. But it was there. Yet another of the inventions that drive the topics here at our Communities Dominate blog.
While the Colossus was being built, the worlds biggest maker of office calculation machines, IBM, thought about computers too. The CEO of IBM, John Watson, said in 1943 "the world market is maybe for five computers."
The first famous American computer was the ENIAC, in 1946. That computer was used to calculate ballistic trajectories for the military, and in the development of the Hydrogen Bomb (the really big atom bomb, for those who aren't that familiar with nuclear weapons; even today of the nuclear club, not all have detonated an H-Bomb, and for example the North Korean experimental explosion earlier this year, and the accusations of the Iranian bomb program, are on the atom bomb level, not the H-bomb)
1951 saw the first commercial computer, the UNIVAC 1, which sold 46 units in its lifespan. The UNIVAC 1 weighed 13 tons, cost 1 million dollars and was powerful enough to handle 1,900 calculations per second. A year later the computer greatly popularized computing especially in America, as it was used in the 1952 Presidential elections to predict that Eisenhower would win, only one hour after the polls had closed (and was correct). By 1953 the world population of computers had reached 100 and three years later it passed 1,000.
Some interesting developments happened at this time. 1951 saw the first purpose-built gaming computer, called Nimrod - named so because it was used to play the strategy game Nim. It was made in Britain by Ferranti. One of our fave themes at this blog is convergence. Well, the first step of computers and telecoms convergence started in 1958, when Bell Labs introduced the world's first modem to allow data to be sent from one computer to another, using telephone wires. Yeah, that invention is also 50 years old today. Can't do the internet without it, ha-ha..
Early computers used punch cards to program and to feed information (a standard shaped card, for which you physically punched holes. The location of the holes would determine what the computer "read" and how it would react. The output was typically printout in paper, the continuing rolls of paper type. The modern concept of a personal computer - having a keyboard for easier entry than having to cut holes into punch cards, and a monitor to display the computer output rather than having to print everything out on paper - was launched by DEC with their PDP-1. The computer was only the size of a couple of full-size refrigerators - tiny compared to the others that weighed many tons - and cost only 120,000 dollars. It had a speed of 100,000 instructions per second and DEC sold 55 of them.
In 1961 the first industrial robot was manufactured by Unimation, which was installed to work in a television picture tube factory. In 1962 Bell Labs developed synthesized music on computers - digital music was born (and you thought it started with the iPod, ha-ha). And in 1962 the first university programs for computer science were launched in the USA at Purdue and at Stanford universities.
By 1962 the world passed 10,000 computers in use and IBM had made about a third of all computers in use.
LEARNING TO NETWORK
The 1960s gave us Moore's Law in 1965. And the first computer classified as a supercomputer was Control Data's CDC 6600, designed by a certain Mr Cray. The computer ran an amazing 3 million instructions per second, in a totally different class from any existing computers. five times faster than the fastest IBM. Cray would design most supecomputers for several years but he had greater things in mind, and later would leave Control Data to launch his own computer company and release supercomputers that bore his name.
But this was when many of our networking concepts emerged. In 1964 the first commercial application of a proprietary and closed network, spanning computers across America and the world even, was launched. It was not the internet, nor its origins, the ARPANET, but this was Sabre. You've probably been served by Sabre countless times in your life already. Sabre is the international airline ticketing sales network. It was designed by IBM. So yes, all those paper tickets that used to be printed, and you wondered why the travel agent would sell you the airfare but then you had to wait so long for the ticket to be printed for you - that was because of Sabre, which originally was a breathtaking innovation and allowed the airline industry to develop such bewildering pricing models and plans. Computerized interational ticketing - and networked computers. The Sabre system. First networked app, pretty cool. That was 44 years ago..
More networking stuff. Email was launched in 1965 and the first bulletin board system the same year. It was also when the first computer shot to space, when a tiny computer was installed into the Gemini capsule. Funny story here - the astronauts were told to ignore the computer if the astronauts felt it was not right - and the astronauts did so - and the Gemini capsule was massively off target in the ocean - but had they used the computer results, they would have been far less off. Humans tried to outguess a computer - ha-ha, generally not a good idea..
1967 saw another fascinating innovation in propriatary closed networks using computers - and an interesting advance in digital meeting analogue - the first banking automated teller machine (cash machine) was launched in the UK. Soon these banking networks would spread to all countries. Can you imagine life without a cash machine and that vital piece of plastic in your wallet? That started 41 years ago, in Britain.
Hypertext was invented in 1968 - that is the power behind every internet link you have on any website or blogsite. Yes, fourty years ago. The computer mouse dates from this year as well.
And then finally we get the ARPANET, what would lead to the internet. In 1969 the first four nodes were connected to the ARPANET, on the West Coast of America. ARPANET would span the country and have 19 nodes by 1971, and also make its first international connection, to Norway, that year. The internet email format was invented in 1971, the @ sign that we all use in our emails today.
MICROCOMPUTERS AND SUPERCOMPUTERS
The 1970s saw computers getting smaller and more powerful. The first compact military computer was installed into a fighter jet aircraft (the first computer on an airplane) on the Grumman F14 TomCat (this is the fighter best known for Tom Cruise's movie Top Gun). The next year Intel released its first microprocessor, the 4004. that was capable of 60,000 calculations per second. Remebering that the Colossus computer did 5,000 and weighed 6.5 tons, now we had a chip that was the size of a book of matches but 12 times faster than the Colossus. Well, it had been almost 30 years of Moore's Law, so no wonder.
Don Hoefler coined the term Silicon Valley in 1971 and the next year sees the first commercial videogame, Pong, as an arcade game, by Atari. They manufacture 19,000 coin-operated archade games of Pong. Meanwhile the first home console videogame was introduced by Magnavox, the Odyssey. Magnavox would be bought by Philips, but the various Odyssey systems would reach a total installed base of 2 million gaming consoles. Pretty impressive. 1972 also sees the first use of computers in medical use, with a brain scanner used in Britain to detect tumors.
1974 is when we get the first commercial launch of a personal computer, the Altair 8800. First chess-playing computers participate in a chess tournament in Stockholm that year and the first computerized flight simulator is launched, AirFlight. The first 3D virtual environment shooting game, Maze War is released in 1974 and the first (non 3D) role-playing multiplayer online game, Dungeon, the next year.
1976 sees two milestone computers launched - Apple 1 and Cray 1. Apple 1 was the first line of personal computers to reach beyond the geeks into mass markets. With its successor Apple II, the iconic PC maker would become the world's largest computer maker by number of computers sold (not by value of computers) and hold that until IBM would release its PC. Before the Apple 1, the world's total installed base of computers was a bit over 300,000 at the end of 1995. In the next five years, Apple would sell that many computers all by itself.
But lets look more closely at Mr Cray and his Cray 1. This is considered the first "real" supercomputer, so much so, that his name became synonymous with being the benchmark, for all supercomputers. They talked of Cray-marks. How fast is your supercomputer compared to a Cray. And here we have his first masterpiece. The Cray 1 ran 150 million instructions per second, or 150 MIPS. It had a massive 4 Megabytes of RAM memory, and could be equipped with several Gigabytes of storage memory. This was a massive and heavy computer, weighed 5.5 tons (not counting the air conditioning it needed - and not counting the hard disk drives that were not included in the base price). What was this machine used for? It was for example used to design the stealth aircraft of the US airforce, the B2 bomber and the F117 fighter. The first Cray 1 cost 8 million dollars and his company sold 85 of them over the next decade.
Another of those silly quotations comes in 1977 when the President and Chairman of Digital Equipment Corporation, Ken Olson, says that there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home. Good call, Ken, good understanding of your industry, and this moment in time, three years after the first personal computer. Yeah, good call.
In 1978 the world passes the million computer level - most of these are PCs by now - but the ARPANET still lumbers on with mostly government and university computers connected and by 1980, has only 200 connections. Its no internet yet. Early PC hit applications like Visicalc spreadsheet and Wordstar word processing software are launched.
1980 sees the first "portable" computer - the Osborne, a suitcase-sized and massively heavy PC. Pac Man is the big hit on the arcades and Nintendo launches its first handheld gaming console, the Game & Watch in Japan.
In 1981 we have another of those famous quotations, when Bill Gates says that 640K should be enough for anybody. He meant 640 kilobytes of RAM memory for a PC. We haven't had PCs that could load their operating system on that little amount of memory for 15 years now, ha-ha..
1981 sees Charlie Chaplin on TV selling the new IBM PC. IBM's iconic first personal computer is very expensive, starting at 2,880 dollars, but boasts impressive performance for a PC, with its top model at 800,000 instructions per second (or 0.8 MIPS). Remember that the first CDC supercomputer was only four times faster than this. But as CPU is an Intel processor and the operating system is Microsoft's DOS, it becomes too easy to make clones, and the first clone of the IBM PC is launched only a year later by Colombia Data Products. In 1982 Time names "the computer" as its Man of the Year.
In 1983 the miniaturization drive takes a huge leap, with the first personal digital assistant (although not called that), when Casio launches its PF-3000 in Japan. Apple becomes first PC maker to enter the Fortune 500 that year as well.
Hollywood is eager to use computers too, and the first movie with graphics designed by supercomputer is science fiction flick The Last Starfighter. It looked impressive at the time, now seeing the movie 24 years later in reruns, the graphics do look dated. Funny how our perception changes.
1984 we get the Macintosh, the most revolutionary personal computer, which changes the way computers can be used. It is launched with an orwellian TV ad during the Superbowl and the PC introduces users to a graphical user interface with menus and icons, and a mouse to point at items on the screen. After the Mac, anyone could learn to use a computer. Before the Mac you had to go to computer class just to learn how to turn the machine on and off.. As Microsoft's Windows was its attempt to copy the Macintosh experience, we can say that all modern computers trace their user interface to the Mac. But the Mac was not the most powerful PC, its IBM contemporaries would run rings around the Macs in sheer computing speeds. The first Mac ran only 0.7 MIPS - slower than the original IBM PC that was three years older. Yet this is it, the start of computing for the rest of us. First Mac, 24 years ago.
Meanwhile IBM wasn't standing still. That year it released the Advanced Technology PC, the IBM AT, which ran a top speed of 2,7 MIPS. And a bit closer to home to our reader passions in virtual worlds, in 1984 William Gibson coins the term Cyberspace in his book Neuromancer. But Cyberspace was still a pretty lonely place, only 1,024 computers were connected to the ARPANET.
MOBILITY AND COMPUTERS
So in 1985 we see the first laptop computer. The Japanese get to buy it, but the rest of us can only read about the impressive Toshiba 1000 in computer magazines. It would arrive to the rest of us the following year. But this year, 2008, finally more laptop computers were sold than desktops. It took 23 years for the cross-over. But it started here, in 1985.
1985 sees also the first major revision to the Cray line, with Cray 2. A far smaller and lighter supercomputer than the Cray 1, yet the Cray 2 crunches a massive 1,000 MIPS and costs, appropriately, 15 million dollars. That doesn't stop big companies from buying it. Apple buys one to help it design its own computers.
Computer generated graphics invade television with Max Headroom as the first starring computer-generated actor in a TV show in 1987. AdLib releases the first sound card for the PC to bring us "multimedia" to personal computers - and many doubted anyone would want to listen to music - or watch videos - on a PC. The same year Apple introduces Hypertext on the Mac. Now we're getting most of the pieces that the internet needed.
And would you know it, in 1988 the first significant internet virus is released, a worm, by Robert Morris Jr, who is prosecuted for it. But by now, the internet is finally growing at high speed, and the total connected computer population is 28,000, and reaches 8 countries.
So enter the web. In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee invents the WorldWide Web, and the internet explodes to 160,000 connections, while the world passes 100 million computers in use. Sim City is released and the next year the first search engine for the internet is launched. Not Google, not Yahoo, it is Archie.
1990 sees the launch of the first digital camera, marketed as the Logitech Fotoman. More of the media entertainment weirdness comes in 1992 when the first music multicast is on the internet. And the internet passes 1 million connections. But the really big innovation for the internet is the browser, and the first web browser, Mosaic is launched in 1993. Now the real internet revolution can take off.
That same year sees the first PC networked multiplayer game, Doom, become a super-hit, to be voted later as the greatest game of all time. It has its free version downloaded 10 million times and the paid version sells a million copies making the owners of ID Software incredibly rich. Oh, how many multiplayers was it - concurrently only four gamers. But playing against 3 real people is far more exciting than against a computer.
1993 is when the term PDA is coined for Personal Digital Assistant. Who made the iconic device that earns this moniker? Apple of course, it is the Newton. Moore's Law continues and in 1993 Intel's Pentium chip is clocked at 100 MIPS. This is barely slower than the Cray 1 supercomputer and now any PC owner could get that performance. Many PCs are built with Pentium chips to mimick a Cray 1.
1994 sees the launch of the PS-One, Sony's Playstation 1, which goes onto sell 102 million units. Meanwhile the internet is the hottest thing, reaching 25 million users and getting on the covers of Newsweek and Time. More than 10% of the world's 230 million computers are now connected to the net.
1995 sees the release of Toy Story, the first completely computer-animated movie. Wikis are born. And the Boeing 777 takes its maiden flight, the first airplane to be completely designed with computers.
So we get to our current era. 1997 is when a supercomputer, IBM's Deep Blue, becomes the first computer to defeat a sitting world champion in chess. Gary Kasparov is the vanquished. Bill Gates becomes the richest man on the planet, worth 23 billion dollars. And the first massively multiplayer online game, Ultima Online, is released. Our fave form of computer activity is launched eleven years ago - yes, the weblog (blog) finds its roots in 1997.
Media and computers keep on crashing into each other. In 1998 the first digital terrestrial TV broadcast service starts in Britain - to fold four years later. The first portable digital musicplayer is launched that year. No, its not the iPod. But three years before Apple's gadget, South Korean SaeHan launches MP-Man. And 1998 sees the launch of our fave internet company, Google. Ten years ago, hey, congratulations Google !!
In 1999 the first consumer robot is released. Not a household cleaner, not a sex toy, but the Sony Aibo, the robotic pet dog. Costs 2,500 dollars.
In 2001 Dell becomes the world's biggest computer maker. The first camera-phone is marketed in Japan by J-Phone, and manufactured by Sharp. South Korea launches MP3-playing musicphones in 2003.
By 2002 the one billionth computer has been shipped and by 2005, a billion people access the internet - and the total users of the internet exceed the total number of computers. The world's fastest computer in 2005 is the Cray XD1, with a speed of 1,600,000 MIPS. What do we need supercomputers for these days when we have no codes to crack or spyplanes to design? Weather forecasting is one of the big clients, and the world' second fastest supercomputer in 2006 - was used 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for one exclusive use - to design a faster Formula One racecar for the BMW team. Each of the ten (now 9) F1 teams has a supercomputer, some teams have two. Yeah, we've come a long way in this industry when our phones are computers, we use computers to show videos on the internet, listen to music, and take digital pictures. And to design supercars.. Yeah..
(Sorry guys, this is longer than I thought, but hey, its Xmas time, plenty of time to read, eh?)
So, honestly, I've tried to give you my very best summary of the past 65 years of computers, and two increasingly related concepts, networking and digitalization, both of which require the computers, microprocessors, and computer science skills that the evolution of the computer brought about.
Now this remaining part will look at Finland's milestones and domestic achievements, which obviously are not to the scale of the first part - for the most part - but there are several, quite surprising, points where Finland contributes to the global computers-networking-digitalization story. Sometimes with just an echo to it, other times even driving it.
Bear in mind Finland with a population of 5.2 million is one twelfth the size of the UK and one sixtieth the size of the USA. You would not expect Finland to be featured prominently in this story. Clearly the majority of the inventions and achievements come from America, and IBM, Apple and Cray feature numerous times in that summary. But also there were major recurring themes from Britain, Japan and South Korea. And the occasional additional storyline from some other countries like a Norway. But do notice, its almost screaming in its loudness, where is Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, Canada, Australia, India, etc. Bear that in mind when you consider this story. There is more than one time, that the Finnish contribution truly deserves to be added to the above story, not only here to the bottom Finnish domestic celebration.
STARTED WITH ESKO
The Finnish adventure into computing started seriously in 1955, when a group of Finnish mathematicians travelled to Germany to a conference on computers. Motivated and enthusiastic, and also energized by fellow Scandinavians who also were eager to get into computers and about to launch their national computer initiatives, the Finns came home to suggest a national computer.
It was then the question of whether to buy it or to make it. Remembering that computers at this time costed easily 10 million dollars - equivalent to about 150 million dollars in today's money - and hardly anybody even understanding what a computer was or could do (and hence how to make use of it), in post-war Finland, that was an enormous investment. To save money, they decided to make it rather than buy it. But even then, there was the issue of work and cost and design. To further save costs, they decided to buy the design from Germany, a computer called G1a.
Unfortunately this was not the best of designs of a computer, and worse, the designs were not clear and complete, so it took a long time to complete the project. However, this process in the late 1950s ignited the engineering community to become fascinated by the big national computer project. It was run by the Helsinki University of Technology (in Espoo, very near the current Nokia HQ). The computer was called ESKO, and legend has it, that the team first came up with this name - which is also a man's first name, like Tomi or Jari or Kimi etc - and after that, they had to invent a clever acronym for it. They called it "Elektroninen SarjaKOmputaattori" (electrinic serial computation machine).
The Finnish language did not have a name for a computer, and typical of such international words, the initial Finnish attempt is to add a letter i to the end of the word, Telephone becomes Telefooni, Plastic becomes Plastiikki, Computer becomes Kompuutteri (or Komputaattori in this case). But Finnish is also a language that quickly rejects most such words and develops a "real" Finnish word. We don't speak of a telefooni. The Finnish word is "puhelin" which could be translated as a "talk-eling" or "talking device". Plastic is not plastiikki, it is now "muovi" which is adapted from the verb "to form" and could be translated as "formable". In the same way, this kompuutteri was not going to last.
The first way the Finnish industry described computers in the Finnish language was to call them "elektroniteknillinen tietojenkasittelykone" (didn't I say Finnish words are long ha-ha). Literally that means "electronic and tecnological machine for handling knowledge". Pretty nice, but way too long a word. Five years later in 1960, professor Turunen coined the Finnish term "tietokone" (literally knowledge machine) which I always thought was a more elegant term for "computers" than the English language word, computer. Our computers do much more than "calculate" ie "to compute". Why do we still call them computers. A pocket calculator, yes that is justifyably a computer. But isn't your laptop much more a "knowledge machine" than a calculator? But I digress. Must be the sleep deprivation and super-caffeination.
ESKO would not end up the first computer in use in Finland, not even the second. But when finally finished in 1960, ESKO would be the first computer manufactured in Finland. It would remain with the university and be used for several computer uses. ESKO was a modest machine by its computing power, only 20 instructions per second. What is worse, is that the G1a German design was actually faulty, in that ESKO was very inaccurate. So when the computer was trialled by the Finnish military to do ballistic trajectory calculations, they found that the ESKO results had too many errors and the calculated results were not usable in real world artillery situations (you don't want your own artillery shells to drop on your own soldiers, ha-ha..)
The first actual computer to be installed and put to use was called ENSI (literally "first") and this was an IBM System 360 machine, acquired by the Finnish Postipankki bank in 1958 (yes, 50 years ago this October). It was used to tabulate the balances of the 1.5 milllion customers of the bank. So successful was the computerized bank accounting, that Postipankki could pay interest at a higher rate and paid on more accurate balances than its rival banks. This resulted in a competitive advantage that the other Finnish banks had no option but to get their own computers in the early 1960s. The IBM 360 was a very expensive top-line mainframe computer of this time and Postipankki could not afford to buy it, so they leased it as most computers (in Finland) used to be for a long time.
During 1959 IBM ran the first computer course in Finland, which was attended by 646 people. IBM would remain active in training Finnish information technicians and in this way also instill into them a strong brand loyalty, with which IBM tended to own about half of the Finnish total computer installed base almost up to the time of the personal computer, a far higher percentage than in its home market, the USA, for example.
So, the decade turned, and in early 1960, I was born. At that time Finland had 3 computers in use. Yet the hype and excitement was so great that a major magazine declared the whole of the 1960s to be the "wild decade of computing" for Finland. And it sure seemed to be headed that way. By the end of the year, Finland had 8 computers.
1962 saw a similar event for the Finnish popular perception of computers and their accuracy, as the Eisenhower election prediction in America ten years earlier. A Siemens 2002 computer owned by Kaapelitehdas, was used as a promotion, to calculate the scores at the big annual ski-jumping tournament, held that year in Ounasvaara and televised. Finnish TV viewers got to witness the power of computing with the scores shown in what must have seemed like "real time", for that time. I am not old enough to ever know of sporting results that were not computer-calculated, so its hard to imagine, how did they do it before computers. On paper and pencil and all sorts of errors and corrections, I would guess, not to mention lots of delays.
In 1963 the Finnish government bought its first computer, an IBM 1401, which was used.. naturally.. to calculate those darned ballistics trajectories for artillery. The standard first application of any army when they first saw a computer.
I'm not going to list out all major companies and in order who bought a computer, except to add one more. I think this is telling of Finland and its hunger for IT and digitalization. Turun Sanomat, a newspaper publisher, bought a computer in 1965 for newspaper use, including computer graphics work. This brought early computers into the media houses of Finland and helped them along on the path to digitalization.
LEADERSHIP IN EDUCATION
Finland is known for global educational leadership in almost every conceivable measure, year after year. Mathematics, languages, sciences, arts, university level, high school level, primary school level. So it comes as no surprise, computers soon also featured in the educational process.
In 1965 the first university professorship for computer science is established for Finland at University of Tampere. The same year, Tapiolan Yhteiskoulu launches the first computer club, for the high school level. I should note, that Tapiolan Yhteiskoulu is in the same region of Espoo, very near the Helsinki University of Technology and not far from where the Nokia HQ is today. That region has evolved into the "silicon valley" of Finland, the "Otaniemi" area.
Two years later, the first book for the mass market is written about computers by two Finns, Jotuni and Salonoja, called Tietokoneko Kaikille. (literally, Is the computer truly intended for everyone). And by 1972 the first university-level technology institute for computing is established in Finland, at the coastal city of Raahe.
So the seeds had been sowed in the 1960s. Then from the 1970s, the Finnish industry started its relentless march towards digital leadership. The first step came in 1971. You'll remember that the first banking machine/cash machine/ATM was launched in the UK in 1968. Now, three years later, Finland launched its automated banking machines and the related credit-card sized banking cards (what we'd call debit cards today). As the banks were heavily computerized already and fiercely competitive, the innovations came often. Finland was the first country to connect rival banks to an interbank network of rival bank automated teller machines, in 1982, and fully national interconnectedness achieved in 1995. Finnish bank cards were continuously updated, so that photograph based bank cards were introduced in 1977 which were acceptable as identity cards (very early national digital identity cards, and semi-official). E-banking and mobile banking soon followed, as far as I can tell, the earliest that basic SMS based bank balances and notices were offered was in 1995.
The PC revolution hit Finland soon after it started in America. First kit computers were bought via mail-order from the USA and the UK, but by 1977 the first domestic PC was introduced (as a kit), the Telmac.
Nokia, which was a multi-industry conglomerate still at this time (anything from electrical cabling to winter tyres for cars to home electronics to toilet paper, I'm not kidding. I used to have rubber boots that were made by Nokia). The Nokia home electronics division released the Nokia branded PC about the same time as the IBM PC, called the MikroMikko.
DIGITAL TELECOMS SWITCH
So far all the Finnish stories were relevant to Finland's emerging IT industry, but not really worthy of global attention. That changed in 1982. That year Nokia installed its first DX 200 telecoms networking switch (Americans call these C/O's or Central Offices). That is the device that all your home phones are physically connected to (via landline), which then decides how to route your call, when you dial your phone number. Perhaps 100,000 local phone lines connected to one box, the size of two telephone booths. Big ones can connect half a million lines, and be the size of a big room, full of electronics. They cost in the region of roughly speaking half a million dollars each. A vital element in any telecoms network (except IP based networks which can achieve the same with routers) in any country.
Every telecoms network has these switches, at least one, typically dozens or even hundreds, and fifty years ago, a large country could even have a thousand of these devices, at least one in every town or suburb of a city. That switch is also the device which calculates how long you've been talking, and indicates that to the system, so you can be accurately billed. It even indicates what number you called, if its an international or long-distance call. When you looked at your phone bill the last time and saw 7 minutes to talk to this number in London - the way that information got to your phone bill, it started in that switch nearest to your home, where they collected that info and then it went to the billing system.
But remember the point that Bell Labs introduced the Modem in 1958 to allow computers to connect using telecoms networks. That started the path to converge telecoms and computing. A very vital step along the way, to get fully converged telecoms and computer solutions, is to also digitize the telecoms network, itself. To bring computers to telecoms.
We have it today, your mobile phone is fully digital. The wireless connection it uses is fully digital. The Skype call you place is digital. It runs on the internet, which is digital. Chances are, that you connected via broadband, which is digital. Somewhere your call was routed, and that routing was digital.
But before all that, the first step is to start the digitalization process on the telecoms network side, and before they installed digital lines, they started with digital switching.
And now we get to Finland. The world's first fully digital telecoms switch was the DX 200, by Nokia (now part of Nokia-Siemens Networks). Its successor is now called the DX 220.
But this was the start on the telecoms side. And they started that in 1982. A mostly "hidden" part of the overall path to a global digital information age, but a truly vital one. All switches sold and installed today, by Alcatel-Lucent, Nortel, Ericsson, Huawei, etc are digital. But Nokia's DX 200 was the world's first. (and you used to think Nokia only made pretty phones..)
And on the path of digalization of the telecoms side of the convergence, Finland would continue on this path, relentlessly. By 1995, Finland became the first country, where the whole telecoms backbone was digital. All networking equipment and all trunk connections between them, were digital. That allowed rapid national roll-out of digital telecoms services from the early ones like ISDN to now broadband.
So lets move ahead. Finland had a vibrant domestic BBS (Bulletin Board System) with many PC owners getting modems and connecting to these BBS's and engaging in chat and discussion groups and file sharing etc. So by 1986 Finland had its first major cybercrime when a Finnish hacker was caught and sentenced. This was still before Finland had joined the internet, so the networking was only within Finland.
But yes, Finland did join the internet in 1988 (ha-ha, 20 years ago, congratulations!), which may seem "late" but note, Norway was the first country to join in 1971, but then there is a long delay with only a few countries added. When Finland joined in 1988, it was one of only 8 countries connected to the internet. Still among the first, and joining at the same time as Sweden and Denmark.
Funny story here, the Finnish connection to the internet was apparently almost rejected, because of Finland's close ties to the Soviet Union. Remember this is still the end of the Cold War and the internet - ex ARPANET - was a USA centered network with military roots. They were concerned Finland would leak sensitive information to the Soviets. It took some politics and diplomacy to get Finland approved at the same time as Sweden. But it was. Finland one of the first 8 countries on the internet.
1988 saw the first big virus attack in America. In Finland it saw the launch of F-Secure (aka Data Fellows) which has since become one of the world's leading anti-virus providers. We don't have many "Microsofts" in Finland, but F-Secure is about as good as it gets on the side of selling PC applications and they've maintained a successful operation for two decades. Congrats F-Secure also for 20 years.
THE BILL GATES OF FINLAND
So here at Communities Dominate we like collaboration, eh? And what could be more impressive for the computer industry, than in an age of "Web 2.0" to actually produce computer code as a collaboration effort. And what do all computers need? An operating system. If you don't want to buy Microsoft's Windows or a Macintosh with OS/X, there is not much more in options, other than UNIX of course. And today the most common form of UNIX is Linux.
Ha-ha, Mr Linus Torvalds, the most famous techie geek from Finland, who launched the Linux project in 1991. And yes, Linux 1.0 was released in 1994 and now they are developing LIMO the Linux Mobile version etc. Either the second or third most prevalent computer operating system in use today, is Linux and the father of Linux is Finnish Linus Torvalds. Not really rich like Bill Gates, but is at least as much in celebrity status in the Finnish IT industry as Gates is in America.
DIGITAL, CELLULAR, CELLULAR, DIGITAL
So if Finland took a giant step in bridging computers and fixed landline "traditional" telecoms networks, it took an even bigger step in bridging computers and mobile telecoms networks. In 1991, Radiolinja (now part of Elisa) launched the world's first digital cellular telecoms service, on the GSM standard. All current mobile phones are digital and communicate in dgital ways with the base stations that they connect to, wirelessly, through the antennae. But before Radiolinja, all cellular networks were analogue, and those calls had bad quality, often dropped calls, and with cross-talk (you could hear others speaking on other calls) and with poor security, and with often cloned / stolen phone numbers. Not to mention, people could rather easily snoop in on your call to listen to your call.
Finland launched the first mobile digital network. This is a major step in digitalization, at least as important as the first digital TV broadcast or the first digital camera etc.
So its not been done alone. Finland also has had a systematic way about this. As far back as 1995, the Finnish government of Prime Minister Esko Aho, released a national strategy for Finland as an Information Society. Not the first country to do so, but definitely one of the very first to have a national mission and roadmap for a digital nation. That strategy is now in its third phase already.
And the effecs could be seen everywhere. By 1996, the total installed base of banking cards exceeded the adult human population of Finland. Finland also had the most banking ATM/cash machines per capita than any other nation. Mobile phone penetrations grew past fixed landline penetrations by 1998 and Finland became one of the firsts countries where there were more mobile phones than people of any age. The internet penetration rates and personal computer statistics per capita were at or near the world's leadership in every survey.
And then there is one of our fave topics here, virtual worlds. Again Finland has a leadership place here. Not the first 3D space, but the first networked multiplayer environment, where a real location has been created. Virtual Helsinki 3D project started in 1998 and they kept adding buildings and streets to it I think up until 2000 or so. A major step in bringing 3D virtual environment experiences to the web. On the path to Second Life etc. The virtual space still exists. My friend Teppo Turkki the past strategy director of Elisa and author and former dean of the Finnish university of industrial design, was one of the leaders of the project.
And then in 1997 Finland features in another global milestone. Nokia releases the 9000 Communicator, the first merger of a PDA and a mobile phone, and the iconic line of super-phones that would soon be called smartphones. This was the first ever cellular phone that had full computer capabilities including PC applications, email, internet connectivity etc. And this was a whole decade before the iPhone and four years before the Blackberry.
The Communicator is a milestone product just by its innovation level, but it also became a milestone product by its success. The next model, 9110, is considered the first true smartphone (with user-uploadable progam applications and expandable memory). But for an industry sector called "PDA" which was invented by Casio and revised by Apple's Newton, there had been several PDA makers who had held a dominating market share at some point or another. But by 2002, the world'd most-sold PDA line was the Nokia Communicator (which also happened to be a mobile phone). And by today, the Communicator series is by far the most sold PDA line in history.
DIGI TV DIGI RADIO DIGI-DIGI-DIGI
Finland launched digital (terrestrial) radio broadcasts in 1997 in the Helsinki region but these were not popular as consumers did not want to buy the expensive digital radio receivers. Then Finland launched one of the world's first terrestrial digital TV broadcasts in 2001, three years after the UK, but Finland's was the first Digi-TV broadcasts that featured predominantly free-to-air content (like the newer UK Freeview Digi-TV) and where UK and Spanish pay-TV digital TV concepts failed, the Finnish model survived and did well. Its not the first digital TV service to launch and remain on the air, Sweden managed that with a pay-TV model. But Finland was right up there with this innovation too.
More significantly in the march to total digital convergence is the decommissioning of old analogue technologies. In 2002 Finland became the first country to extinguish the analogue cellular network. Any old analogue (NMT standard) phones would no longer receive a signal. Along the same lines, Finland became the third country to terminate analogue TV terrestrial broadcasts in 2007 (Luxembourg was first and Netherlands second, both in 2006). Not quite the world's first, but very close to it.
And a similar story on a more individual level, Finnish business newspaper Taloussanomat, became the first national daily in any country to end its print edition and shift to an online-only variant, in 2006.
PICTURE SOME MUSIC?
And I recognized the start of the digital camera revolution. And I noted the move to digital music and portable MP3 players. Finland did not invent these and many companies have held market share leads in those spaces.
But Nokia started to put cameras to its phones in 2003. By 2004 Nokia had become the world's largest digital camera maker (and also the world's largest camera brand, period). Today, out of all digital cameras in use in the world, whether stand-alone or cameraphone - Nokia has manufactured over one out of every four of them. Sheer dominance. By far the biggest digital camera maker today.
And those MP3 players? Nokia's first mass-market MP3 playing phones emerged in 2004 and by 2006, Nokia had become the world's biggest supplier of MP3 players in-built to its musicphones. Yes, there was a time when the biggest MP3 player maker was Apple with its iPod, but Nokia sells more MP3 players this year, than all iPods ever manufactured by Apple since its introduction in 2001.
WHAT IS A COMPUTER
So I come to the end of this long essay, thank you for staying with me. This is yes about digital convergence and yes, about the telecoms connectivity that is needed for an information society and networked computer world, but at the core, we are celebrating 50 years of computers in Finland, not the IT industry. Finland has had many major milestones related to digitalization and networking yes, but strictly speaking, computers? Not a very impressive record (if you remember ESKO, it wasn't even particularly accurate, ha-ha).
When the Economist had its special celebrating 25 years of the personal computer, it said that it would be the mobile phone, which would bring to its fruition, the path that the PC started, to make computers truly personal. The PC only managed up to the desk and home, but personal, that would be up to the mobile phone.
And I do want to be clear, yes every modern mobile phone could be considered a computer, but by most definitions, the average cheap phone fails that test. A computer is a device that can be programmed, so we, users, have to have the ability to install prorgrams (applications) to the phone. Then it can be considered a computer. But a smartphone is exactly that. It is by every definition a personal computer, only very tiny, pocketable in size. It has the CPU, the memory, the storage, the operting system, the input (keypad, microphone and camera), the output (screen and speaker) and most importantly, you can install applications to it.
In 2005, Nokia stopped calling its premium smartphone series, the N-Series, "mobile phones". Rather you'll notice all N-Series marketing since then has called them "multimedia computers." Yes, this was two years before the iPhone launched, but yes, Nokia has been trying to tell us, that this is no longer your father's mobile phone. This is now a multimedia computer. A computer.
Hold that thought.
Is it a toy or is it for real? Lets examine the evidence, shall we? Remember that magnificent Cray 1 supercomputer from 1976, the 5 ton monster that was used to design the stealth fighter and stealth bomber (the heroes of the Iraq wars) and also such "modest" aircraft as the.. space shuttle.. THAT computer. Cray 1 had a speed of 150 MIPS.
Well you know what. An N-Series Nokia smartphone from 2005 runs just about that, about 150 MIPS. Yes! Three years ago, if you had Nokia's top phones, you had in every real measurable way, a machine in your pocket that had a 1970's supercomputer rating of "one cray unit". If you were really a NASA rocket scientist, you could install the Space Shuttle auto-cad program, and design your own update to the Shuttle today, on your Nokia.
Is this fair to call it a computer? I'm not calling the N-Series supercomputers. But it is fair to say, it is a computer. Now, lets skip to today. My N82. That has a clock speed of about 980 MIPS (almost 1,000 MIPS). Where have we heard that before? That is the super-supercomputer by Mr Cray. The Cray 2, which did 1.000 MIPS. This is so much computing power, you can do movie animation with it. So powerful, you can design the Boeing 777 with it. Do some serious weather forecasting with it.
Ok, I think I've made my point. I think it is totally fair to argue today, 2008, that the iPhone is also a pocket computer. That the RIM Blackberry is also a pocket computer. The Nokia E90 Communicator is definitely (the world's most advanced) pocket computer; and the typical N-Series Nokia smartphone is certainly a "multimedia computer" or yes, a pocket computer. I'm not calling it a desktop computer, and I'm not calling it a mainframe or supercomputer. But yes, a pocket computer, I think yes. And it is valid to count them when we count computers. Not all mobile phones, but real smartphones, absolutely yes.
And so we arrive at 50 years of computers in Finland. This year, our anniversary year, we count the total smartphones that Nokia has sold, and the number is going to be around
80 million units (UPDATE: I counted it, 64 million). You know what? Dell and HP, which were the biggest makers last year, will sell about 40-50 (UPDATE: I counted it, 43-55 million) computers this year. Lenovo (former IBM) nowhere near those. Apple? yes, even with their Mac desktop and laptops, and iPhone smartphones (and even iPod Touch's) will sell only about 60 million (UPDATE: I counted it, 35 million) computers.
This year 2008, for the first time, Nokia is the world's largest computer manufacturer by number of units shipped. Congratulations Nokia. A beautiful achievement on this, the year of the 50th anniversary of computers in Finland.
Finally me. I was born in 1960. When I was born, the world had about 7,000 computers (and Finland 3 of those). In Finland we had no legacy of computer knowhow, the first courses were only held the year before and no educational institutions offered any computer training.
Obviously none of my parents' generation had jobs anywhere near the industry, there was almost none of it in 1960 in Finland. But there was that buzz about the new computer age coming to Finland in that first decade of Finnish computerization that featured in the background of my childhood. I didn't pay any attention - I wanted to become a policeman at the age of 4 and by the age of 7 wanted to design skyscrapers as an architect.
So in my teenage years I picked up a growing passion for science fiction. Remember that in the early 1970s there was no personal computer, so all computers were giant machines that required programs written in Cobol and Pascal and Fortran and such languages, that you went to university for years to learn to master.
So in 1972, by a strange coincidence, my dad took me to see an actual real computer, at his office, over the weekend. And he took me to the locked room where the machine hummed its eerie noise, in the pristinely clean, airconditioned room. No flashing lights like all computers had in the science fiction movies. Just cabinets of cool metal boxes, and some of them emitted this low-noise hum.
I was both disappointed and very impressed. Wow, if that device costs millions, has no lights, is in a locked room, and is still working - on the weekend when all employees went home - it has to be something very powerful and "real". It didn't need beeps and flashing lights. It emitted power. I left in awe.
And a spark had been ignited. I knew, that I wanted to learn more about computers. As luck would have it, I did attend Tapiolan Yhteiskoulu for my senior High School (the first Finnish school with a computer club) and joined the computer club (of course) and in my advanced mathematics classes, learned some rudimentary computer programming concepts and the logic of computing. We even kind of learned a bit about the Basic programming language.
Bear in mind also the timing. This is 1976. That is when the Cray 1 was introduced. Can you imagine how a bunch of math nerds in Finland's "computer school" reacted to the news. We studied those specs and plastered pictures of the Cray 1 to our walls and couldn't stop talking about MIPS and Megabytes and the sheer power of supercomputing. We knew that the level of performance would head to the spy organizations like the NSA in America and to the nuclear weapons simulations and design of submarines and next generation fighter planes. So we all assumed we'd never actually get to see or touch a supercomputer (and we felt Finland probably could not afford one anyway) but this only increased my appetite for computers and immense respect for their power. I remember having that debate with my friends, will the day come, when a computer will beat a human in chess. And I was adamant, the time will come (within my lifetime).
My dad was also a techie-geek so no surprise, when Hewlett-Packard released its programmable pocket calculator, he got one, immediately. And on that pocket calculator, there was a "computer game" or actually a very basic "computer simulation" in fact. It was a Moon Landing game. You had to interact with the calculator to select when you burned fuel, as your spaceship was approaching the moon, to do a perfect landing. Not burn enough fuel, you'd crash into the moon and die. Burn too much, and you'd stop descending and not land on the moon at all, and get lost in space (and die). A cool simulator game. But of course, I loved it, and had to master it, and I did. I soon outscored my dad on it.
My professional career took me face-to-face with a real (mainframe) computer in 1979, when I was working for the Gallup Organization in Finland (as a young interviewer, conducting the field surveys). I got to understand the role of how to format questions so the computer can "understand" them and interpret the answers (ie yes/no questions, and multiple choice questions) but that the computer could not "interpret" any answers that were written words that the respondent had said. Those had to be "coded" by the analysts by their logic, before it could be fed to the computer for analysis.
By the time I went to college in America in 1983, I was quite familiar with computers - considering the time, and especially coming from Finland as opposed to say, California. I went to Clarion University in Pennsylvania, which had a good business school (for my bachelors in marketing) and I discovered to my delight, it had a top-ranked debate team; but also critical in my college selection process, was computer science, I wanted to also learn to program those computers. I knew computers would be an important part of my life as a "businessman". I was the only marketing student in my computer classes and had to explain myself to every computer science professor ha-ha..
So I learn to program. And in 1984 I author my first totally own application, that was not part of any school project. My first app. You know what I created? A simulator. I was naturally driven to what we now call "spreadsheets" ie Microsoft Excel (and previously Lotus 1-2-3, Quattro, Visicalc, etc) where all modern simulation work is done, but in 1984 I had not seen a spreadsheet, and I just instinctively knew I wanted a simulator, and wrote one, in Fortran. And it worked. And I loved it.
Our regular readers know that I'm not an engineer, I'm a "marketing guy" whose just very much a geek. But yes, I am qualified to program, have a minor degree in computer sciences from Clarion, and have authored half a dozen of my own applications over the years including some very complex billing, invoicing, bidding tools and several econometric models. Plus some games.
I've also rapidly adopted new technologies. When the PC lab opened at Clarion, I was one of its first users, and that is where I fell in love with Lotus 1-2-3 (and saw that in ten minutes on Lotus, I could replicate my simulator that took a week of programming and debugging on the university's VAX mainframe using Fortran.) But I also quickly adopted the efficiency gains from PCs in studying and work. For example, at my MBA studies at St Johns in New York City, I was one of the first students to write my thesis on a PC (using WordPerfect) and handed a copy of my thesis as a computer diskette to my advisor. Not the first, but very much among the first. I had used word processing for all school writing projects since 1985 so I couldn't imagine starting the biggest writing project of my life up to that point, in 1989, on anythine else than a PC and a good word processing program.
Oh, and funny story. I was proficient at Wordstar at the time, never used WordPerfect. The St Johns lab did have both, but I decided, that since I knew WS but didn't know "the other" word processor - of the two leading brands at that time - it would be useful to write my Thesis in WP, and thus force myself to learn that program as well. ha-ha, WordPerfect would soon become the biggest program in the world (eventually of course declined and disappeared with MS Word on Windows taking its place).
Same with my first book. My contacts at John Wiley were very impressed in 2001, when I was willing and able to send the "full manuscript" via email to them. They said that they were fully prepared to take the manuscript by printout (paper print, can you imagine, in 2001) and have one of their girls transcribe it to their computers; or they'd love for me to send it via diskette in the mail (ha-ha, yea), but that yes, my book was one of the first titles at John Wiley, the world's largest publisher of technology books, that was submitted via Word document attachment in email, This was only seven years ago. But book publishing is a very old-fashioned industry, still.
Again, I couldn't imagine doing it any other way. But yes, because of Clarion's big computer science program (and me the "weird" marketing student hanging around the computer labs), I got to use email in 1983, FTP ie internet file transfers in 1985, and PC based access to the internet via modem in 1987, essentially a decade before the internet became "mainstream".
During the 1990s I worked for New York's first internet service provider as lots of things from director of marketing to sales manager to PC technician to software trainer to IT consultant and honed my skills with this industry. And then from 1995 on when I returned to Finland, my career rapidly shifted to the telecoms and mobile side.
But I do find it truly amazing, that when I was born, the world's total computer population was 7,000 computers. And if you add up all of their total computing power, it comes to about 70 MIPS. Those computers cost over 20 billion dollars in 1960 money, worth over 150 billion dollars in today's money. Now as Mr Ex-Nokia Guy, at the age of 48, I walk around daily with my E90 Communicator, and my N82, two high-end smartphones. And either ONE of those, is more than ten times more powerful, than ALL the computers put together that existed on the planet, when I was born.
I used to love my music (I was a DJ at high school and college age), I was a passionate semi-pro photographer with all the 35mm cameragear you could imagine. I have collected videos on tape and DVD all of my adult life. I love to write. I love to calculate. I love maps (I'm an Eagle Scout and won the Gold Medal for orienteering while in the Army).
Now on my phone I have a 5 Megapixel camera and real flash. I have my music and better yet, lots of music videos as well. I can watch movies and videos on the phone and it records video in DVD quality. I can write on it (the E90 with the QWERTY keyboard) and calculate with it (installed the spreadsheet to the E90). And the phone has the GPS and the maps. I have every media device I could wish for, in one phone!
And I am a nut for history and for performance and for numbers. I've long ago memorized Cray 1 specs and could not believe it when I noticed that my then-current laptop exceeded the Cray 1's performance (and thus I did actually both get to see and touch a computer so powerful, that those specs had been considered a supercomputer). And then that since 2005, I've had Cray 1 supercomputing power in my pocket, in my Nokia smartphone.
In all seriousness, I'm a very creative guy. But at the age of 16 where I was perhaps at my most creative, I could not have conceived of this kind of super-device as is in my pocket today. I saw all of the original Star Treks. Even seeing the communicators and "tri-corders" I would not have believed that in my lifetime a pocketable device might match those in performance. And today's smartphone is far superior to almost all of those TWO Star Trek devices put together. And my Nokia does all that and much much more. And I have two of them. And not only that, I get to work in this industry where these wonder-gadgets are sold and connected. And others ask me to comment on the industry and give my views of how this will evolved. So I am paid to think about the mobile phone business. I love my job.
FINAL FINAL PS
And a last note. Yes, our parents' generation knew nothing of computers. But its also funny, how by strange accident, specifically computers, not telecoms, have been near me in my close family. My eldest cousin, Pirjo, was one of the earlies Finns to be trained on computers and has been on a fast track career that took her to Germany and she became a high level IT boss for Deutsche Bank. Another of my cousins Kimi works for Nokia. You'd think telecoms, but no, he is a PC support team boss managing all the computers for one full floor of Nokia House the HQ. There only are six of us cousins, and three of us (including myself) have had a major part of their careers in computers. (the other three are a doctor, a designer and an athletics coach)
And my best friend, Timo Kasper (co-author of my third book 3G Marketing), used to work as controller of Finland's largest computer wholesaler, Computer2000 (now part of Tech Data) and then he became CTO of an information provider in Finland Observer. By strange coincidence, where in Finland the telecoms industry is the goliath and computers the david, all my close friends and family landed on the computing side. Funny.
So we celebrate 50 years of computers in Finland. Its been a good career option.