Computers have been used in the workforce since the 1930s. The United States Government used computers to conduct census counts and create strategies for defense systems. The year 1975 ushered in a new era in computer science and information systems technology which would impact the workforce in areas of training and job creation for the next 35 years.
1975 -1978: Microcomputers Introduced into the Workplace
In 1975, the microcomputer was introduced into the small business sector. Because of microcomputer technology, small businesses were able to compete with large corporate entities by having the ability to analyze business data. These machines, called PCs (personal computers) could operate separately from main or mid-frame applications. The microcomputer automated various functions which were redundant in the workforce. During this era, microcomputers where the first to use standard workbooks and business software such as word processing and database management.
1978 – 1980: Mid-Range Systems
Mid-range systems are server based systems which perform distributed processing through remote terminals. Many businesses and organizations purchased mid-range systems which were networked for employees to access data on a real time basis. Mid-range systems used custom made software packages based on the needs of the end user and management. Remote terminals were classified as "dumb terminals" controlled by the mid range server.There are many mid-range systems still in operation today
1980 -1986: Personal Computer Technology
The migration of the personal computer into the workforce changed the business world forever. The advantages a personal computer had over a mid-range system terminal were the personal computer was classified as an "intelligent terminal" with a hard drive, memory and storage capacity with the ability to use other applications instead of being restricted to one application. The personal computer boom created a demand in the job force for computer technician, application specialist, network technician and microcomputer support technician.
1986 -1990: The New Age of Information
Many businesses began to realize computers could increase productivity and eliminate tedious manual tasks performed by employees. The new age of information changed the way in which management viewed computers. Instead of looking at the personal computer as "burden" in the workplace, most businesses began to allocate funds for employees to be trained in computer applications. New degree fields emerged (Information Systems Management) which merged the concept of applying software applications to business strategies.
1990 – 1998: Windows Operating Systems
Parallel to the explosion of personal computer usage in the workforce, Microsoft would introduce its version of the Windows Operating System to the public through Windows 3.1 to the most current version, Windows 7. These versions added new features focused on needs of users and businesses. Windows Operating Systems featured plug and play technology, work group management technology (to share files between users working on the same project) with the ability to operate on 32 to 64 bit technology. For businesses using server technologies, Microsoft created Windows-based server applications such as Windows 2008. Computer training institutes such as ComputerPrep (www.computerprep.com) began to develop courses in microcomputer technology to teach skills for use of Windows in the workplace.
1998 to Present: Internet Technology
In the mid 1990s, the information highway ushered in the Age of Information which had an impact on business. Businesses included the use of the Internet into their strategic plan in areas of customer support, e-commerce and Internet marketing. Fear was that the Internet would eliminate jobs from the workforce, but it accomplished the opposite. It created new career fields in business and technology such as web development, Internet marketing specialist, Internet consultant and information management specialist.
- computer keyboard and mouse image by Warren Millar from Fotolia.com