Software From My Past

What software have you left behind?

July 19, 2016

What software did you at one point in your life use all the time, but have now left behind?

Is there an application in your past that you once used on a daily basis - but now never touch?

How durable are our relationships with software?

Most of us have some history with software that was once dominant, but for one reason or another faded into obscurity.

How many of you once used Eudora for e-mail? WordPerfect (or WordStar) for word processing?

Did you once spend time with Lotus Notes? (Or Lotus 1-2-3?)

Any former RefWorks or EndNote users in the house?

Did you also listen to music on Winamp, and try to have your videos ready to stream on RealNetworks. (And how much music did you really download in 1999 on Napster?)

I’m sure that there is time on Netscape Navigator and Internet Explorer (IE) lurking somewhere in your browsing history.

At one point in my career I built websites on Dreamweaver - and I have a unpleasant memories of MS FrontPage. You?

Were you once convinced that OpenOffice was a legitimate competitor to MS Office?

Do you have a PageMaker chapter in your biography?

If you asked me what the most important tool that I used in grad school (back in the 1990s), the answer would not be any of the MS Office applications, or even the emerging internet.  My answer would have been SPSS.

SPSS was the statistical package that I used to analyze the data for my dissertation.

Back in the day the process of analyzing data meant logging into the campus mainframe, batch executing jobs (or runs), and picking up your output at a window in the data center.  The desktop version of SPSS changed all that.  For the first time, you could run a full version of SPSS on your (Windows) PC.  (I installed the client version of SPSS in 1994 or 1995).

Using SPSS to run regression models on large datasets (or large back then) took time on mid 1990s hardware.  But you could be fully in control of the analysis experience - from data cleaning to the creation of value and variable labels to getting you results.

SPSS made me fall in love with data analysis.

Most of my social science colleagues were not really fans of SPSS. They were SAS people - and then everyone seems to have gone to Stata. I stayed loyal to SPSS during the early part of my social science career. It was only after moving from a life of a traditional academic - and studying the working poor - to the world of edtech that I moved away from SPSS.

At first, this move was gradual. I kept a hand in the world of social science - and my skills with SPSS would sometimes come in hand in analyzing survey results or (less frequently) large datasets.

I can’t remember the last time that I used SPSS.  This was a program that I spent years learning how to do my bidding. Nowadays, SPSS is not needed or relevant for my work - but I still miss the pleasures of using the tool to answer questions with data.

What software have you left behind?



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