RE: History of the IT industry

Subject: RE: History of the IT industry
From: "Andrew Warren" <awarren -at- synaptics -dot- com>
To: "Michael West" <mbwest -at- bigpond -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 31 May 2008 02:49:59 -0700

Michael West [mailto:mbwest -at- bigpond -dot- com] wrote:

> > professional software engineers and computer designers don't
> > identify themselves as working in the "IT industry".
> As I responded to Gene, the main reason they don't is because they
> do fact work in many other industries -- banking, insurance,
> aerospace, etc etc. "Profession" and "industry" mean different
> things.

No. I'm talking about engineers who work for computer companies,
software companies, electronics companies, etc. They don't call
their industry "IT".

> I'd bet that software engineers who work for Microsoft, IBM or Sun
> know what industry they work in.

I'd take that bet. How much?

I have the home phone numbers of at least half a dozen software
engineers who are current or former employees of Microsoft, IBM,
or Sun. It's too late to call them now, but I can ask them
tomorrow whether they work in the IT industry.

> I don't know when the term "Information Technology" began to be used
> as an umbrella term for those things you mention; Merriam Webster says
> 1978 but I'd have guessed earlier.

M-W says 1978 because that's when corporations started to need
network administrators and helpdesk people to manage and maintain
their collections of personal computers. Those people weren't
programmers, operators, designers, or analysts... They were
technicians, performing a new job function that only existed
because low-cost microprocessor-based computers were suddenly

"Information Technology" describes that new function, NOT the
programming and design functions that engineers had been doing since
the 60s and continue to do today.

> I myself can remember when computer programming was considered a branch
> of electrical engineering. There may be some other old-timers here who
> can vouch for that. Now of course it is considered an engineering
> discipline in its own right. None of the software developers I work
> with consider themselves electrical engineers. But then, they don't
> have to handle vacuum tubes and soldering irons to do their jobs, as
> programmers used to do.

Funny, most of the software developers I work with DO consider
themselves electrical engineers... And they can all handle soldering
irons, and most have oscilloscopes on their desks. I'll admit that
no one but me has used vacuum tubes much -- and I only have because
I've written embedded software for a couple manufacturers of high-end
audio equipment -- but we can all design more-or-less competently
with solid-state components.

> today when you read about the "IT industry" in the Wall Street Journal
> or Business Week magazine, you're reading about companies whose primary
> business involves the things I've mentioned above.

I'm not sure that's true... But regardless, the people IN the
industry don't call it that, so who cares what some journalist
likes to call it?



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History of the IT industry: From: Michael West
RE: History of the IT industry: From: Fred Ridder
RE: History of the IT industry: From: Michael West
RE: History of the IT industry: From: Andrew Warren
RE: History of the IT industry: From: Michael West

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