Definitely.So in that sense, Bards were kind of like a full caster even as far back as 2e.
I cannot count the number of times we had clerics who capped out at 5th level spells. Max spell level didn't dictate what made a full caster because top spell levels varied among editions for other spell casters considered full. Caster level progression demonstrated full spell casting ability. Bards cast spells at full caster level.
Casting more potent spells than mages was gravy. XP progression favored bards a lot and auto-scaling spells were their bread and butter.