Thought Leaders Reflect on Technology & the Profession: 20 Years Ago...

From the July 2011 Issue


Remember 1991?

M. Darren Root, CPA.CITP, Executive Editor

In 1991 we had a network -- Novell Network, I believe. We were using an application that was similar to IM called Right-Hand-Man, it was a TSR program that used up all of our minimal temporary memory and constantly crashed our desktops, but it did allow us to connect around the office.

I remember getting my first luggable mobile phone that looked much like a walkie-talkie. We were using Prentice Hall's write-up package and doing W-2s independently of doing payrolls, so we were rekeying all that data. I believe we were using Best Programs for our tax package, support calls would sometimes run in the one- to two-hour on-hold range. One-write plus, I believe, was our accounting package of choice. Seems like ATB Accountant's Trial Balance was in the mix.

Back then it took us over twice the staff to do 1/3 of the volume we do today. Everything was paper in and paper out.

Knowing how difficult all that was compared to today, I'm not sure I would do it all over again.


Brian F. Tankersley, CPA.CITP (Technical Editor)

At the time, Brian was a senior at the University of Tennessee and a year away from taking the CPA exam.

“I remember when the General Ledger and General Journal were not abstract concepts to be learned by undergraduates, but were real books that were stored in a fireproof safe every night.”

“My home PC was a 10 MHz IBM PC AT clone by CompuAdd, and I had "tricked it out" by installing a 2400 bps modem, upgrading to a whole megabyte of RAM, and an Epson FX-80 dot matrix printer.”


Randy Johnston

Randy was doing much the same as he is today: Consulting, running seminars for K2 Enterprises, helping develop new technologies and running NMGI.

“As far as technology, Lotus 1-2-3 was still the dominant player, and Windows for WorkGroups (V3.11) had not been introduced yet. Most networks were still Novell. Windows 3.0 had been released in 1990, but didn’t start to work well until Windows 3.1 arrived. WordPerfect was the dominant word processor, and the tax field had dozens of competitors. Write-up was already dominated by Creative Solutions."


Gregory L. LaFollette, CPA.CITP

In 1991, Greg was the Tax & Technology partner in a South Dakota firm he had founded a dozen years earlier.

"We were having great success with our clients using Creative Solution's 'CheckBook Solution' (now Client Bookkeeping Solution CS). This 'new paradigm' product let clients do 'bookkeeping' while their accountants did 'accounting'. It was a great concept that unfortunately didn't keep up and was soon all but obliterated by Intuit's recently launched QuickBooks product.

“LaserJets were getting better and better, and we bought an HP LaserJet IIIsi for about $5,500. It featured very high-speed (17 ppm) and had a huge 5MB of memory and ultra-crisp 300 dpi output! And even cooler, it offered DUPLEX PRINTING! It was also the first printer to include Adobe PostScript onboard and thereby eliminate the need for font-cartridges.”