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Computer Programmers

History

Data processing systems and their support personnel are a product of World War II. The amount of information that had to be compiled and organized for war efforts became so great that it was not possible for people to collect it and put it in order in time for the necessary decisions to be made. It was obvious that a quicker way had to be devised to gather and organize information if decisions based on logic and not on guesses were to be made.

After the war, the new computer technology was put to use in other government operations as well as in businesses. The first computer used in a civilian capacity was installed by the Bureau of the Census in 1951 in order to help compile data from the 1950 census. At this time, computers were so large, cumbersome, and energy draining that the only practical use for them was thought to be large projects such as the census. However, three years later, the first computer was installed by a business firm. Since 1954, many thousands of data processing systems have been installed in government agencies, industrial firms, banks, insurance agencies, educational systems, publishing houses, colleges and universities, and scientific laboratories.

Although computers seem capable of doing just about anything, one thing is still as true of computers today as it was of the first computer 60 years ago—they cannot think for themselves! Computers are machines that can only do exactly what they are told. This requires a small army of qualified computer programmers who understand computer languages well enough to give computers instructions on what to do, when, and how in order to meet the needs of government, business, and individuals. Many programmers are currently working on artificial intelligence, or computers that can in fact "think" for themselves and make humanlike decisions, but perfection of such technology is far off. As long as there are computers and new computer applications, there will be a need for programmers.

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