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I'm Impressed with how Accounting Software has evolved

I was reflecting today about how, over the last 40 odd years, accounting record methods have evolved.

Here is a trip down memory lane for you:

At the tender age of 19 I decided I wanted to know how to do accounts, because I knew I would be in business someday....I thought that if I knew how to do accounting then .. nobody could cheat me out of my money. (How naive I was - and that's another story for another day!)

I enrolled with ICBA (International College of Bookkeeping and Accounting) in Zimbabwe, and embarked on a 3 year course to learn all things bookkeeping and accounting. I did this by distance learning, at my own page. I had to write 3 international Pitman of UK exams, and I aced them all with an average of 95% each.

During that time I started working at Coopers and Lybrand in Harare, Zimbabwe as a junior accountant. I worked there for almost three years before moving on to Arthur Young, Ernst and Whinney in the same city.


All bookkeeping was done manually. And I mean manually.  

We wrote by hand all records onto graph
paper or into specially printed books with columns to use for analysis.  

We had specially printed books to use as general ledgers, trial balances, profit and loss and balance sheet reports.

 As you can imagine, having neat and fast handwriting was of paramount importance!

6 months after starting work with Coopers, I recall that computers had just arrived in the country, and they were a complete mystery. 

We had the great big galumphing box placed in a special room. 

 It had to be warmed up for about 30 minutes, before a large 8 inch floppy drive was put in. That was called the boot drive. 

It's entire purpose was to launch the operating system. The operating system was called MS DOS.

 Right next to it was another slot for another 8 inch floppy drive.  

That was the data drive, where we captured all clients records. This data drive had an accounting program called AccPac loaded on it.  It was the only accounting software known to mankind in Zimbabwe.  If you knew how to use AccPac, you were worshipped and head hunted.

Before you could use any floppy drive as a boot disc or a data disc, it had to be formatted on that huge box. 

The floppy drives were not compatible with any other computer; this means that if you formatted the
data drive on that one box, that is the only box it could be used on. 

You could not take the floppy drive to another persons computer and slot it in. It would not be recognised.

So that box was guarded 24/7. If that box broke, you lost your business data.

We only had telexes, not internet.  There was no networking either, which means no other computers to connect to that box. Only one person could use that computer.


We had one data capture lady who sat and typed in all the data for all our clients accounts the whole

The screen was dark green and the text was yellow. there was no mouse, everything was done with the keyboard and the arrow keys. 

The data would be corrupted often and had to be recaptured if the backup drive also corrupted.

Therefore, we were diligent to ensure we had plenty of manual duplicates of the data and printed copies of everything.

You can imagine the chaos and extra hours accountants worked, to ensure accuracy of data!

Eventually, local networking was introduced, and us junior accountants were trained to use the software and capture the data. BLISS! 

 But there were endless headaches, like corrective journal entries.  You could not undo a transaction like you can today. You had to correct it with journal entries only. 

Eventually other programs started coming out, and over the years I learnt the following:

  • AccPac

  • TurboCash
  • Pastel
  • Sage
  • Wave
  • Xero
  • Zoho

And more.

I became so proficient that organizations hired me to present software to their clients, and train them how to use it. 

Today I can look at any accounting software, learn it, use it and teach it.  In fact, I was privileged enough to be in a position where I designed online reporting and liaison-ed between the software developers and their clients, to ensure each understood the other.

 What fun I had!

ROLL ON 2023 - I now consider myself fully digital.  The features and capabilities of accounting software today are limited only to the creators imagination.  Accounting software has become a CMS hub, linking all sorts of apps to work together.

Today you have accounting software linked to your bank, to eCommerce platforms, to planners, calendars, booking software and more. 

I, for one, am very excited about the future and technology, and always dive in with both feet and hands when something new comes my way.

If any of this resonates with you, feel free to pop a comment below and let me know what you think about the evolution of accounting recording methods today.


Caz Livingstone
AccountsPro Solutions



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