Ten ways the IT industry has changed in the last 40 years

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IT Industry Has Changed a lot in the past 40 years
IT Industry Has Changed in 40 years

IT Industry Has Changed

The IT industry has changed a lot in the last 40 years, and the way we work in it has changed totally. Here are ten of the ways that the IT Industry has changed beyond belief.

Wasn‘t IT Then

First of all, it didn‘t used to be called the IT industry at all but the DP, or Data Processing industry. One can see here how the emphasis has changed from transaction processing to the provision of business information. The move from calling it DP to IT took place gradually, circa the late eighties.

COBOL Programming Language
COBOL Programming Language of IT Contractors

King Cobol

Back in those days Cobol was king, and most people used it. It was THE business computing language. There wasn‘t the plethora of different languages and tools that there are now.

Huge Computers

The computer and ancillary equipment took up a floor of the building, usually the basement. Disk drives were huge as were the disks, and there was all sorts of equipment like cooling systems.

Nowadays PCs have more power than those big machines that took up a whole floor.

Nowadays if you ask where the main computer or server is, you‘re likely to find it in some cupboard or box room.

No More Tea Breaks in IT
No More Tea Breaks an more

No Tea Break Any More

The tea-break is no more. Back in the ‘˜good old days‘ most companies‘ workers used to stop for a 10-minute tea break in the morning and afternoon – in a room away from their place of work.

No Databases Used

All the files were flat files. They had headers and trailers to assist batch processing.

There were no such things as databases. These strange things came into general being in the early eighties

Non-Technical Managers

Forty years ago, few of the managers were IT literate. They were managers who had come from other departments.

The trouble was that they really didn‘t understand DP at all, and there was a basic culture clash between the management and those on the shop floor.

Nowadays, IT managers tend to have come up from the IT department and used to be programmers, analysts or from technical support.

Personal Computers
Personal Computers are more powerful than the mainframes were

Couldn‘t Explain What Computer Programmers Did

Nobody else had any concept then of what you did – and you couldn‘t explain.

The whole thing was completely alien to them.

They‘d say such things as ‘you mean you put data into a computer’.

The only time they‘d seen computers then was in something like Star Trek.

Nowadays, with the advance of PCs, most people have a grasp of what we do, or it can be explained to them

No Punch Girls

There‘s no Punch Girls any more. These girls (it was always girls) were really converted typists and they punched out the cards for you before you were able to run your program.

There was always someone like Hattie Jacques in charge of the Punch Girl pool, who saw herself as someone who was there to stop the girls getting any nonsense from those jumped-up programmers and especially their ‘fancy dan‘ managers.

They had a constant demeanour of ‘I hope you aren‘t going to give me any nonsense’ about them

More IT Contractors

There‘s a lot more contractors nowadays.

Some IT Contractors
Some IT Contractors a Waste of Time

Back in the old days there was the occasional contractors, but they were probably only about 1 or 2% of the total IT population.

Nowadays they are more like 20% to 25% in normal times.

Despite working for one of the major banks (Barclays), I didn‘t meet my first contractor till my third year of working in the industry.

It was really in the late seventies and early eighties that contracting started to take off

Fewer Women in IT

There are more black people working in the industry now, but a lot less women. It was many years of working in the industry before I first worked with a black person, even though I worked mainly in London, and I won‘t speculate here why that was, as I would only be guessing.

Perhaps it was because the sons and daughters of West Indian immigrants who came in the late fifties and early sixties were still in school.

Perhaps there were other reasons. However, around a third of those who worked in our department were women and I think that the average for the industry was close to 25%. Now it has fallen below 20%

I‘m sure that there are a lot more differences now as opposed to then, but these are the first ones to spring to mind.

The IT industry has changed a lot over the last 40 years.

If anyone can think of any more put them in the Comments section below.

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