Feature: ICT Stalwart John Gibbs Awarded For Lifelong Contribution

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??Minister of Commerce and Trade, Senator Haynesley Benn, addressing guests at the awards dinner. (A. Miller/BGIS)

Barbados may not be considered a hotbed of innovation or technology, but some of its native sons have made valuable contributions to these sectors.??Indeed, John Gibbs, Managing Director at Axses Incorporated, is one such person, and his lifelong contribution to information communication technology (ICT) was toasted at the Accra Beach Hotel yesterday evening, by the Information Society of Barbados (ISB).

In his address, Minister of Commerce and Trade, Senator Haynesley Benn, ??observed: "In this current economic environment we need more persons with the business acumen of Mr. Gibbs; innovators who can utilise information and communication technologies to assist in the stabilisation, recovery and growth of the domestic economy…There is an inextricable link between ICT and innovation.?? ICT’s can enable innovation in a significant way by providing the mechanisms for new modes for delivery of services," he said.

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Guest of honour John Gibbs, receives a gift from Present of the Information Society of Barbados, James Corbin. (A.Miller/BGIS)

The ICT pioneer, who referred to himself as "one of the oldest people in the world who has never worked in any field except information technology", revealed some of the ways in which ICTs had been transformed by leaps and bounds since his first job in Jamaica in 1965.?? He explained that at that time, the value of ICTs was not fully understood and the sector was yet to be defined or even named.

However, even during this era of evolution, Mr. Gibbs’ dedication to his craft was sure, although his title of ???programmer’ was one which, he said, was often met with quizzical looks.?? ????????????

"Nobody wanted to admit that they didn’t know what a computer was.?? That was not surprising, because at the time, they were four computers in Jamaica…. [the computer I worked on back then] had 4K of memory…We programmed it in a language called SPS that was close to machine language.?? We wrote the programme on sheets of paper.?? You punched your codes into cards…" Mr. Gibbs explained, highlighting the arduous process of testing and retesting codes to ensure a computer programme would work.

His penchant and passion for all things ICT led to various achievements and contributions throughout his career. ??He started the first software company in Jamaica in 1971 with two of his colleagues and together they created a general insurance system which found success throughout the region.

The two decades from 1980 to 2000 signalled significant software developments for Mr. Gibbs, who then served as IT Director for Systems Caribbean Limited.?? These included a payroll application for employees throughout the Caribbean; the Central Bank systems for Barbados and a regional counterpart, which served as the foundation of their present day structures; the National Insurance System which was employed in seven regional countries; and the creation of a system for the Caribbean Examinations Council.

He also highlighted some of the more recent accomplishments with his company, Axses Inc., such as the website http://www.barbados.org/, which has served as a wealth of information on the island for visitors over the past 12 years; and the development of an application which allows persons to make hotel bookings from their smartphones.

nekaelia.hutchinson@barbados.gov.bb

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