...I should have remembered that analogies always come back to haunt you. I don't know a thing about cars.
I think we have a differing scope. Mine is somewhat around decades, whether things are getting better since the 70s, 80s, 90s and today. IMO they are for both users and programmers.
One could easily argue that the wonderful thing of home-computing never even took off until the early 80s.
90s/2000: We have a world wide computer network. We have x86s that, however technically inferior compared to other architectures, have been a particular godsend this decade. We finally have more colours and photo quality images. We have quite good 3D, much improvement to be had though. GUIs are finally a point that my mother (and my girlfriend's mother) can use.
It's all up as far as I can see.
...but of course things are not the same. Programmers' tasks have fitted with the hardware and expectations of the time. Programmers are starting to get more code-reuse: creating libraries so that others needn't rewrite code, and so that they may use hardened code. If programmers were to have continued writing the vast quantity of software themselves, without libraries, it would take much longer today. But easier? this point is moot.
We're expecting more from programmers, but their tools are better, so it evens out.
ps. can you give some examples of maintaining being less easy today?
== Human's wear pants, if they don't wear pants they stand out in a crowd. But if a monkey didn't wear pants it would be anonymous
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