When HP first hired designers in the founding years of the Silicon Valley, their attitude was to hire people who weren’t smart enough to be engineers but were smart enough to do technical drawings and out the logo on the box.
Yes, graphic design is centuries old but respect was not really paid to technology companies until Steve Jobs. It was the attitude of many technology companies years ago to bring in designers at the end of the cycle to make things look nicer, lipstick on a pig, it’s only been recently that designers have been core from the early stages.
I don’t think the author meant any offense. If anything he’s commenting on how design wasn’t given its proper due in years past.