A Chronicle of Enterprise Software History

Editor’s note: This post by Derek Singleton of Software Advice reviews more extensive work at: Origins of Modern Computing.

At Software Advice we recently undertook an ambitious project. After spending countless hours analyzing modern enterprise resource planning (ERP) software developments, we decided to look into the past to understand how we got to where we are today. So we put together a series that explored the evolution of enterprise software, as well as and the technologies that have been the backbone of these developments over the past 60 years.

It’s hard to imagine that we’ve come from a time when it took an entire room to house a computer to a point where the average handheld smart phone has more memory and computing power than a mainframe. But our valiant editor, Lara Zuehlke, blocked off a month of her schedule and went a little old school to dive into the library stacks. What unfolded was a series that took on a life of its own. It’s a story chalked full of charismatic leaders such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, as well as quite geniuses that burned the midnight oil coding new applications.

Our story starts by recounting how punched card machines inspired the mainframe and the first mass-produced computer, the UNIVAC I. The introduction of the first mainframe computer soon generated fierce competition, and thus created the “big iron” industry. During the late 1950s and early 1960s the first operating systems (OS) and programming languages also began to show up in the industry.

In addition to putting together a text narrative, we also created timeline infographics. Below is the infographic that accompanies part one of our series.

Enterprise Software History Part 1

If you’re interested in reading the text narrative, visit Part 1: Origins of Modern Computing.

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