A couple of months ago, a client visited our offices and the first thing we discussed (with much enthusiasm and reminiscing) was our corporate museum piece:

This was the computer my parents purchased for our family on Christmas 1983. It was also the computer I did my first paid gig as a consultant in 1985.

This past Saturday, my parents were passing through town after visiting at a family reunion. They stopped by the office and saw the old Apple IIe sitting there, and we discussed the role that computer had played in my career development. I found out that my parents didn’t remember what they had done, and I reminded them:

  • Whenever there was a broken radio, electric razor, or other device, my Dad always gave it to me to tinker with, tear apart, and attempt to fix. (I failed at the repair most of the time due to lack of proper tools and technique, but I learned a lot in the process.)
  • When I was in 7th grade, my Dad pulled me out of junior-high school classes and took me to the local college where they were hosting a public seminar about Visicalc—he had seen the advertisements. I was amused to see that I was the only kid at a seminar teaching people about the emerging technology: Spreadsheets! (And weirdly enough, I GOT IT. It was like candy. I loved the idea of spreadsheets, and the TRS-80’s I’d been using at school had nothing like it.)
  • My Dad had used an Apple II at his office and was very aware of the gaming and word-processing capabilities, but made sure to purchase “LOGO/Turtle Graphics” and a few other tools designed to train up-and coming programmers. He knew I had a strong attraction to arcade games, Atari, and all things computer-related, and wanted to nurture me. (I know what these computers cost, and I know that relative salaries in 1983 made this computer EXTREMELY expensive compared to today’s costs—it was a serious purchase.)
  • My Dad was an avid AYSO soccer coach, referee, and evangelist (in southern Idaho) who played a major role in bringing youth soccer into town in the late 1970’s. After a few years of AYSO in town, Rexburg City decided it wanted to run its own program and hired my Dad to administer the program. He was paid $400 to organize, recruit, and oversee the new program, and he paid me half of his fee to build and administer a database to manage the coaches, referees, teams, etc. AppleWorks had a database tool weirdly similar to modern database applications, and I went to work. I was able to do mail-merge document work in the mid 80’s, printing labels, letters, rosters, game schedules, etc. Pretty decent first paid gig…
  • My parents’ wedding present was a hot little IBM clone with VGA, a 20 MB hard drive (!), and even a MEG of RAM. It was top of the line at the time, and I was studying Accounting. That computer introduced me to DOOM, Windows, and hacking the USU computer lab network to store our networked version of DOOM II and others so that our nerd group could play together at the back of the computer labs between classes. It taught me the joys of upgrading hard drives, ram, processors, CD-ROM drives, and even networking. Somewhere along the line, I realized that although I understood and enjoyed accounting, my love was databases, coding, and integrating—I liked SYSTEMS.
  • My parents went out of their way to nurture an 80’s child during one of the most interesting technology booms in history. No parents are perfect, but mine REALLY seemed to care about my development.

Thanks Mom and Dad. You did a LOT right.

So… Ready Player One. I don’t know how to review the movie without going into the book a bit.

If you didn’t live through the 80’s, this story won’t resonate with you as well as it will with someone that lived through it. I read the book many years ago, and it was absolute brain candy—every page was filled with reminders of how it felt to be alive in the 80’s, fully engaged in the music, games, movies, and every other pop-culture fad. This book felt very authentic—with deep dives that will leave any trivia buff gasping to keep up.

In short—Ready Player One blitzes shows like Stranger Things for 80’s plugs and culture feel.

The movie is quite abbreviated compared to the book. The very short time frame of a movie is prohibitive for reaching the depth of the book. It’s a much smaller taste, but it’s a LOT of fun! (If you think you MIGHT like to swim in a flood of Van Halen, Nintendo, or Def Leppard references, this book is a MUST READ.)

Ready Player One is an ultra-cool futuristic society where an evolved multi-user gaming platform (OASIS) has gone world-wide and has become the basis for education, commerce, and entertainment. The physical world and the virtual world have largely combined using VR technology.

The mastermind behind the OASIS has passed on, and he leaves his fortune (and control of OASIS) to the winner of a contest within the OASIS. The contest is a massive video-game style quest based on a hunt for hidden “Easter Eggs”—the clues were so abstract and difficult that it took years for the first clue to be found.

The clues, the tasks, and the theme of the contest were all heavily drenched in 1980’s pop-culture trivia. The author of the OASIS was a child of the 80’s and he made sure that the world (clamoring to find the clues) would feast on 1980’s trivia.

The movie is filled with intense action sequences—it paints a very entertaining picture of the book that I had (previously) lacked the ability to imagine. The movie is a LOT of fun.

However, the movie felt a lot more interesting BECAUSE I had read the book.

Ready Player One is a very fun ride that takes the current technology footprint (Internet, VR, multi-person gaming, AI, etc.) and imagines a fairly believable near future where the virtual world has become a parallel reality that has replaced many of the mundane aspects of the material world. Much of the world’s economy has gone virtual, and advantages gained in the virtual realm translate into spendable money in the real world.

As a plausible possible future reality, there is much that modern business can learn about planning for technology changes in the future. The right choices for a technology platform now will enable future momentum while others may be struggling to adapt.

Choose an ERP system that has the flexibility to grow, scale, and adapt.

Choose a technology platform that can be used where and when you need it.

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