The History of How We Came to Be

Thursday, 31 August, 2017 - 16:0016:30

Niall Richard Murphy, Google


The talk will feature research from international standardisation committees, the history of women, work, and computerization, and personal anecdotes of the mainframe era to construct a theory as to how and why engineering and operations split apart. We will also examine the issues with an eye to gender and workplace politics.

In the course of this talk, we will look at:

  • The earliest jobs in computers (~40s). What were they, why did they exist, and who held them?
  • What different and distinct things happened in the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and noughties?
  • What was the difference between the keypunch operator and the computer operator?
  • What was unglamorous about programming in the 40s, such that women were allowed to do it?
  • What factors led to women being crowded out of programming as a profession?
  • Why did system administration come into being as a job family, and why was it minimally viable to separate that from programming?

Niall Richard Murphy, Google

Niall Richard Murphy is the head of Ads Reliability Engineering for Google Ireland, where his group is responsible for the infrastructure underlying ~90% of Google's annual revenue. He is the instigator, co-author and co-editor of platinum-selling "Site Reliability Engineering" (O' Reilly, 2016), a history of the Irish Internet, and is the holder of degrees in Computer Science and Mathematics, and Poetry Studies. He lives in Dublin with his wife and two children.

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@conference {205548,
author = {Niall Richard Murphy},
title = {The History of How We Came to Be},
year = {2017},
address = {Dublin},
publisher = {USENIX Association},
month = aug

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