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'I criticize by creation, not by finding fault."—Cicero flJDJTflPE THE POWER OF AN IDEA By Roy Lampe Who in 1895 could have prophesied the advent of the computer? Perhaps there were some visionaries at Haskins & Sells seventy-five years ago who could foresee the advent of the adding machine or the calculator. But the computer as we know it was simply a science fiction fantasy. Today we are all witness to a phenomenon that has astonished even its inventors. The computer's power and scope are awesome. It has opened new frontiers for commerce, industry, medical research and education. It has changed the concepts of time and space, creating new life conditions for the entire world. The computer has been hailed as the instrument that will bring about a second industrial revolution. There are some who believe this mighty machine can do virtually everything. Not true! There is hardly an innovation that doesn't bring with it a new kind of problem. Auditors found that as the clients' manually prepared visible records disappeared into magnetic storage tape or disc it became increasingly difficult to trace specific accounting information in its "invisible" computer state. The auditor was faced with a choice of three alternatives, none of which was completely satisfactory. First, he might secure a full printout of all accounting data, thus making "visible" the entire record. But a full printout often would require extra computer time and cost, and would still not select the specific data needed. Second, he might be able to use an existing computer program to obtain the specific details required by the auditor. But if a client's program is used, the auditor must establish its validity for his Roy Lampe is a writer who specializes in business and industrial subjects. He wrote the script for Masterminding the Computer, the H&S motion picture introducing Auditape. specific purpose. Third, he could prepare a special computer program. However, if a special program must be prepared to extract the specific information, it may become a costly, time-consuming procedure, thus defeating the major advantages the computer has to offer: speed and efficiency at a low cost. Also, the two latter alternatives would require that auditors be experienced in computer programming. As these problems mounted, it became increasingly apparent to Ken Stringer, partner in the H&S Executive Office responsible for developing auditing standards and procedures, that there was a critical need to develop a new method of reaching specific information stored in computer form, inexpensively and on demand. In the fall of 1964 Mr. Stringer arranged for the initial work on this critical project, and early in 1965 recruited some of the keenest computer-oriented minds in the Firm to continue work on it. This team included Jimmie Dunn and Bob Egan of the Houston Office, Joe Wesselkamper of the Cincinnati Office, and Frank Devonald of the New York Office. The team's mission: to create a generalized computer program that could provide the capability of reading and selecting specific information from masses of stored data and yet be used by persons having no specialized knowledge of computers or programming languages. It was a difficult, arduous task requiring months of continuous exploration, evaluation, analysis and agonizing reappraisal. By November 1965 the team had developed a system called the Computer Audit Programs, consisting of a Computer Audit Tape and a Computer Audit Deck. Although this system was distributed to H&S offices and used successfully at that stage of development, the team realized there was need for further improvements to meet the criteria established at the beginning of the project. Early in 1966, Bob Egan and Joe Wesselkamper were transferred to the Executive Office to concentrate on the project full-time. By September of that year the Firm's concerted thrust paid off — the new Auditape System was unveiled. The Haskins & Sells team had created an auditor's "key to the computer"—a system that is capable of handling computer records in virtually any format, requiring no special programming by the auditor and minimal training. It can obtain essential information economically with a speed previously unknown to auditors and without a deluge of extraneous information. Although primarily conceived as an aid to the auditor, the Auditape System was recognized as a potentially important management tool. Its flexibility could bring a new dimension to information retrieval, especially when data is needed by management to make a crisis decision and there is no program for this one-time requirement. Haskins & Sells introduced its Audi-tape System concept to its clients in the fall of 1966 through a series of regional meetings throughout the country. An orientation team consisting of John Queenan, Ken Stringer, Joe Wesselkamper and Bob Egan described the Auditape System and offered it to the clients for their use. Even as this series of meetings began additional features
Auditape: The Power of an idea
Auditing -- Data processing
Stringer, Kenneth W.
Dunn, James F.
Egan, Robert E.
Wesselkamper, Joseph D.
Devonald, Frank J.
Rowe, William E.
Haskins & Sells. Houston Office
Haskins & Sells. Cincinnati Office
Haskins & Sells. New York Office
H&S Reports, Vol. 07, (1970 winter), p. 12-13
|Source||Originally published by: Haskins & Sells|
|Rights||Copyright and permission to republish held by: Deloitte|
|Format||PDF page image with corrected OCR scanned at 400 dpi|
|Collection||Deloitte Digital Collection|
|Digital Publisher||University of Mississippi Library. Accounting Collection|