Before mass printing, universal literacy and numeracy were not considered important because the division of those who ruled and those who were ruled was skewed radically, so a small aristocracy controlled the majority of people. With the rise of the middle class in industrialism came compulsory schooling and a push towards universal literacy. Simple access to print doesn’t mean much unless you can read and write. You can’t be middle class without some control over your own budgets, income, earnings, spending, and savings so elementary numeracy is crucial.
Algorithms are as basic to the way the 21st century digital age works as reading, writing, and arithmetic were to the late 18th century Industrial era.