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June 1, 2014


Back in 1971, the IBM System/360 Model 2o, with magnetic tape drives, was a hot computer marketed to businesses for improving customer service, investor reporting, internal operations and management reporting. But it cost a fortune and was the size of two very large refrigerators. Typewriters were still the dominant piece of automation equipment in most companies. Even hand-held calculators, heralded as the next big thing, were still too expensive for most budgets.

By the late 1970s, large banks and lenders had loan-tracking systems built on minicomputers or mainframe computers-still huge machines-yet the IBM Selectric typewriter remained the king of office technology.

That changed with the widespread adoption of personal computers into the workplace around 1981. Most of the first available models-the IBM Personal Computer, Apple Macintosh and Commodore Amiga-were revolutionary, but costprohibitive. An ad for the new Hewlett Packard HP 300 computer that ran in the July 1981 issue of "Mortgage Banking" actually carried a price tag-a whopping $53,000 ($138,227 in 2014 dollars). In fact, as a cost-saving measure it was not uncommon for entire departments to share a single desktop computer in the workplace. But as PCs proved their worth and prices came down, sales skyrocketed.

The importance of electronic data processing in most financial services companies grew along with computer sales volume. General word processing was the most basic function served by technology vendors at the time, but software was increasingly being tailored to banking and mortgage processes. The needs of title insurance, database management and servicing were addressed to streamline processes, and the automation of the loan origination function soon followed.

Mortgage companies saw potential timeand money-saving benefits in computer automation, and were ready to invest in it, but in these early days there were few vendors offering the specialized kinds of software required for origination. An article in the April 1981 issue of "Mortgage Banker" reported that it cost a mortgage company between $500,000 and $1 million at the time to develop a front-end loan processing, closing and tracking system in-house.

By 1982, outside vendors had stepped up to take on the development and maintenance role. These vendors put money and expertise into the equation, working with the industry to create and continually improve available loan origination systems. Providers such as Contour Software, Data-link Systems, Financial Software Inc. (FSI), Mortgage Closing Associates, Symbolics Financial Systems and Computer Organized Mortgage Packaging Systems (Comp Systems) were among the big names of the day.

For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel

Source: Mortgage Banking

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