Of course, at that time, a college degree typically indicated that you were literate and numerate without any 'accommodations.'
More importantly, a much smaller number of people had them so they identified a segment of the population that stood apart from the masses.
I am very grateful that my loved ones who fell into some of the above categories did not encounter instructors who mentally put their very necessary accommodations in air quotes. These are people with real challenges AND real abilities, and the accommodations allowed them to manage the former, in order to realize the latter. They needed - and got - excellent instruction and support. It sounds like in your classroom, they would have found nothing but contempt. That's shameful.
No, most of these accommodations didn't exist in the good old days - one of many reasons why they weren't, in fact, the good old days.
As I've stated many times, many of the students I get who are identified as "special needs" turn out to be excellent students. Many I wouldn't have guessed had I not gotten the official notification. However, there are a minority, (20% perhaps?), who I'm not sure are helped by the accommodations. I'm talking about students who don't come to class for weeks at a time and who don't hand in work. At the very least, they should be limited to something like 1 course a term, and perhaps closely monitored for attendance. Usually the people who work in the special needs office have no idea how many classes they've missed, and believe they're just a little behind and can catch up quickly. (This is true no matter how many courses they've handled the same way.) To be clear, these aren't students with physical health issues; those students tend to take reduced course loads and have realistic ideas about what they can manage. Whatever issues these students have (anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, etc.), no classroom accommodations are going to solve their academic problems, and allowing them to limp along ineffectively isn't helping them in the long run.