Observations about common IT technologies in 1988-89

Sometime around 1988-1989 I did some part-time data entry work for an IT Recruitment Agency that my Dad worked for. Tucked away in some papers I found these two sheets listing a range of different programming languages and other in-demand software packages/systems at the time. From memory, I think this list was what I used to code each of the job applicants tech skills as they were entered into their recruitment CV/resume database.

There’s many things interesting about this list from 30 years ago. The first that caught my attention is how many of the tech skills on this list are no longer in use today, and some I’ve never even heard of since.

The second point that’s interesting is how many technologies and languages we commonly use today are not even on this list, meaning they were developed and introduced at some point after 1989. Every web technology in common use today was introduced after this point – HTML, CSS, JavaScript and any of the various popular JavaScript libraries, all introduced at some point after 1989.

Even other popular languages and frameworks/platforms, Visual Basic, Java, .NET, Ruby, PHP … all introduced after 1989.

This reinforces the fact that commonly used IT technologies come and go pretty quick, and what’s common today can easily be replaced with something else tomorrow. If you’re planning to stay in IT for the long run (longer than a few years), be prepared to keep your skills up to date, stay flexible and adapt to change.

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