Humans are influenced by the environments that they live in. When it comes to any invention, this means that a new creation is built upon certain fundamentals or prior progress. This results in the timeline of a technology that you can use to quickly understand new technologies.
The study of Math shows a clear example of the timeline of a technology. Mathematical operations such as addition and subtraction were built upon the invention of a number system (i.e Base 10, Binary). Multiplication and Division (Inverse Multiplication) followed not shortly after. From these four basic operations, humans have been able to invent a host of mathematics such as Algebra, Geometry, Calculus, etc. These mathematical concepts — as we know them — only exist as a human invention that have taken thousands of years to discover and perfect.
Math is still being invented today.
Putting the history of a technology in perspective allows you to remove ambiguity. The computer itself is based upon electrical circuits and mathematical concepts: It even uses a binary number system (byte code) as input. Why were computers created? To automate mathematical calculations such as addition and subtraction. Could more reasons exist? Yes. However, it’s more significant that — at some point — someone decided that they didn’t want to calculate basic operations by hand.
Computers are created by humans (for usage by humans).
The creation of a new timeline for technology starts here. Some call it laziness. Others call it being efficient. In any case, someone had a request to automate a task (in order to save time). Whether or not that task is worth spending time automating is debatable. Regardless, someone will do it. This progresses the timeline of a technology.
Software development is constantly evolving as the 74 year old concept progresses further in time. A profession which once focused on input output streams for 1s and 0s has become a host to multiple programming languages: Each with a different purpose. These languages experience a timeline in a similar manner to the words that you read on this page. Words whose meanings have evolved over thousands of years.
The timeline of a technology is predictable: A task is automated or a concept is invented. Then we must improve upon said invention. Perhaps, the invention is implemented in an unfinished state: We leave it to resource managers to determine whether it’s worth it to buy calculators now or wait for computers later. Regardless, there lies a point where the current technology becomes too complex. At this point, the timeline of a technology repeats itself: The previous technology is used as a basis for a new technology.
God forbid you must start over from square one.
You live at a specific point in the timeline of any technology. It is up to you to recognize where that point is and apply it to your work. Use the timeline of a technology as a tool that provides further insight to a given technology. Knowledge of the history of a technology is important to understanding said technology, removing ambiguity, and making further progress.