RE: History of the IT industry

Subject: RE: History of the IT industry
From: "Lauren" <lauren -at- writeco -dot- net>
To: "'Bonnie Granat'" <bgranat -at- granatedit -dot- com>, <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Sat, 31 May 2008 11:56:25 -0700

> From: Bonnie Granat

> Merriam-Webster is not claiming that information technology came into
> existence in 1978; it is stating that its research finds the
> first use of
> the term in that year. That's what a "Date" field in a
> dictionary definition
> generally means.
> Main Entry: information technology Pronunciation Guide
> Function: noun
> Date: 1978
> : the technology involving the development, maintenance, and
> use of computer
> systems, software, and networks for the processing and
> distribution of data
> Bonnie Granat

I take it that somebody in this thread mistook a dictionary for a history
book? I think there is a problem during a discussion of historical support
when we need to discuss the role of a lexicon.

Concepts and terms evolve over time. Just because a "term" for a concept
came into recognizable existence at a certain time, does not mean that the
concept came into existence at that time. Also, a term can exist but its
concept can change.

Information Technology (IT) as a term describes a concept that was in
existence when the term was first used. Historically, it is difficult to
determine when the current concept of IT first came into existence,
especially when we disagree about the definition of the term. There may
even be disagreement about the evolution of the term, "Information
Technology" where, what we know as IT today, is not the same concept of IT
in 1978.

A dramatic case of the evolution of a term is the evolution of the term
"race" when applied to human genetics. Although there may some dispute
about the sociological history of the term, here is a generally accepted
summary with some of my observations. The term first appeared in 1580.
Race in European countries and languages tends to mean variations on a
species, like different races of dogs are different breeds of dogs. In the
U.S., the term "race" was used by Separatists as a way to say that black
people were a separate and inferior species to white people. Before and
especially after Abolition (1865), there was the concept of a separation
between the "white race" and the "black race." The white race was superior
and the black race lacked intelligence and necessary capabilities for
self-sustenance, so that race should be denied privileges that were given to
the men of the white race, such as the privilege to work (Abolition granted
the privilege of freedom from forced servitude and Separatists wanted to
create an environment that could only support black servitude to whites).
Asians, Hispanics, Native Americans, and anyone who was not black or white
was not classified in the U.S. term of "race." Modernly, in the U.S., the
term "race," as applied to human beings, means variations of genetic
ancestry. The concept of genetic variation predates the first use of the
term "race" in 1580 and the definition of the term has changed throughout
the past five centuries.

Information Technology is both a concept and a term. Both the concept and
the term apply to the functions of organized and systematized sharing of
information; however, methods of IT have evolved and have changed the
meaning of the term. So the concept "IT industry" changes depending on
whether one interprets the term to refer to the historic functions or the
current methods of IT. Without an agreement on what the term applies to,
there cannot be a consensus on the correct usage of the term.



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RE: History of the IT industry: From: Bonnie Granat

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