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You're leaving out the other 80% of the industry – yes, IBM shops had systems programmers but every single one of them also had operators who were following a big run-book of canned procedures and diagnostic trees which sometimes ended with “Call <sysprog>”. Most Unix shops I've seen had a few decent developers and a bunch of people who used tools written by the first group.

The big difference I see in devops is that people started taking system management seriously enough to do first-class development rather than an afterthought.

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