Thanks for your comment - you raise a good point that many of the older devices were interesting in that when you opened them up there was more variety in the way they were designed and worked - sure not always that good, but often quite different from each other. You're right; we'll soon have to be visiting retirement homes if we want to reminisce about such things. Of course younger people in the industry have different expectations and computers have lost their mystique - they are now everywhere (every house has TVs, toaster, PCs, - no big deal), but ironically, there are definitely less opportunities to be creative - to come up with new and novel ways of doing things at work, where colleagues would say, "Wow, that's clever - how did you do that?". Anyone doing things differently today would more likely be in trouble for non-compliance.
Certification is "training" not education, and every certified sys administrator knows the correct and standardised way to do things, which explains why it always takes two weeks to get the permissions sorted out to the point where we can actually log on and do the work we are being paid to perform at customer sites.
I have worked, and continue to work with some marvellous young IT people that are a joy to be around but increasingly I notice that perhaps even the majority are also studying for or planning to work in other areas. There is not much of a career path anymore for most IT roles. It was interesting to note that in at least one major US survey of college graduates career satisfaction, IT had the highest "regret" score, wishing they had made a different choice. To sum up the foregoing ramblings, I think the big difference was that in the past we implemented "computer based systems" to make work easier, faster, and more accurate. Today, IT projects are implemented to save costs, reduce overheads (i.e. people), to be able to off-shore, retrench, consolidate. That's where the action is if you're a CEO looking for the big bonuses!
It is great to see you on board. We've all spent too many years supporting the venerable VS to just cease any association with its legacy in our later years! Why, it has shaped our very psyches - and that actually explains a bloody lot. Seriously though, keeping in touch this way may help to alleviate your sense of loss from not getting any more of those challenging and enjoyable band printer calls. Bring back the 5573, 5574, 5574-1, and of course the mighty 5575 (arrrrgh!). And remember when some customers replaced the standard plastic Daisy Wheel font disks with metal ones so that every fourth letter was smudged? Ahh, the good old days! Actually, wait a minute, they weren't really that....