A Very Brief History of “Working With Computers”
From their invention in the 1950s to today, there has always been the refrain, “You should ‘work with computers!.'” Pre-1981, computers were the size of a piece of furniture to a room. Most software was proprietary, meaning your employer trained you on it. Often, programmers had to write the software as needed for each project. It was all very high level, and programmers were a very weird little corner of society, left alone from office politics. One central computer ran “dumb terminals” all over the site.
In 1981, the PC was introduced by IBM. Sure, others existed before, but this was the real deal. Wheras mainframes were for large corporations, now small offices could have one on every desk. At least one per office at first. Software was sold prepackaged. Once you set the computer and printer, you had little “computer work” to do. The larger corporate sites still had the mainframes, still used proprietary software.
Then, about 1994, the internet was opened to commercial traffic. Mainframes died off. 100 smaller computers and servers worked better than one big one. This rose the complexity. Risk went up since in the end, Citibank was running much of their processes over the very same network lines that GM used which were the same ones that Joe Citizen. New skills were needed, new skills still are.
Working ON a Computer is Not Working WITH Computers
Almost everyone seems to own a computer today. If you work an office job, it is near impossible not to work on one. Even 10 years ago it was worth it to have “Microsoft Office” on your resume. Today, to not know how to operate a computer is to be illiterate. Saying you “work with computers” because you use Office is as if you “work with cars” because you deliver pizza. Doing that does not make one a mechanic. Word skills do not make you a computer expert.