Michael J. Swart

September 24, 2010

How Would You Explain Your Job to Someone in 1950?

Filed under: Miscelleaneous SQL — Michael J. Swart @ 11:40 am

So I was talking with a friend of mine, Dariusz Grabka (blog | twitter). We were talking about what careers we would have if we had lived during different times in history. I realized that our careers today are so specialized that not only did they not exist 50 years ago, but they probably couldn’t be explained very easily to someone 50 years ago.

But it’s a fun exercise. Here’s my take on explaining my job to someone from 1950.

So I spent some time imagining myself in my grandfather’s shoes circa 1950 and what kind of context he would need to understand the job I have now. I explain the I.T. industry and then mention my part in it:

My Job

So there’s this computing machine called a computer that can be used to perform all sorts of calculations (There’s one the military uses outside of Baltimore called the ENIAC).

In 2010, these computers are so inexpensive and small that these machines are used everywhere. And they’re so powerful that they’re being used as communication tools for all sorts of information or data.

So there is a large demand to store all this data. I mean there’s thousands of LIBRARIES worth of information to store. And it can all be stored on something the size of a small brick!

Frequently, this information has to be organized so that it can be located and read. We organize the data using different techniques and we call this collection of information a database.

My job is to organize the data so that storing and retrieving the correct data is done efficiently.

Fellow From 1950: So, you’e like a librarian for computing machines?

Me: Exactly!


  1. Conversation continued…

    Fellow from 1950: But aren’t all librarians women? When did men start doing a woman’s job?

    Comment by Brad Schulz — September 27, 2010 @ 1:56 pm

  2. Reminds me of a blog article written by someone that used to attend the Long Island PHP user group:

    Its all about the data.

    Comment by Justin Dearing — October 6, 2010 @ 7:56 pm

  3. That’s an awesome post Justin. To think, almost all of us (in IT) are clerks in some way.

    Comment by Michael J. Swart — October 6, 2010 @ 8:43 pm

  4. […] was wondering how one would explain their job to someone in 1950 – a time before computers.¬† His explanation inspired this […]

    Pingback by Explain your job to someone in 1950 – dariusz grabka — November 3, 2010 @ 10:57 am

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