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History of Software Development: Brief Guide for Starting Developers

The world has seen many innovations in computing—from housing large computer hardware to using mobile devices that can fit in your pocket.

The history of software development goes way back to 1940s. Software engineers and developers are designing products to address the need for large-scale function business systems back then.

Today, more technologies are created with even higher features, thanks to software development which usually works alongside software engineering.

Here is a timeline of the important developments in the history of software:

Defining Software Development

Defining Software Development History of Software Development | Laneways.Agency

To understand the history of software engineering and development, we need to understand what they mean first. Software development is rooted in the creativity of a computing program to produce the software needed by the end-users. Software developers will then seek the help of computer programmers to create the code necessary to run the software. 

Meanwhile, software engineering pertains to the use of engineering principles to craft software. Software engineers have the tools that developers use to create their applications and programs.

As an interface made to bridge the computers’ systems and their people using them, software is comprised of programming languages, data, instructions, and information that dictate how the computer will accomplish the many tasks at hand.

The human-readable instructions that programmers follow are in a source code. The source is being run through a compiler which is responsible for converting it into a machine code for the software.

When Was Software Invented?

The history of software development began in England in 1948. The Manchester Small-Scale Experimental Machine, with a moniker of “Baby,” led the launch of all software in the world’s history. Computer scientist Tom Kilburn is the genius that developed this early groundbreaking event. 

The technology created for this hardware was programmed to perform mathematical calculations based on machine code instruction and data. It took 52 minutes to compute correctly the greatest divisor of 2 to the power of 18.

Many years later, the time for computer programming with punch cards came with each hole has a specific code. It was Fortran that became one of the first higher-level programming languages in the history of software development. Other early programming languages like CobolBASICPascal, and C were developed and introduced years after, overcoming software crisis.

We build custom software with modern solutions in mind for any business and sizes!

We build custom software with modern solutions in mind for any business and sizes!

The Rise of Early Personal Computers

The Rise of Early Personal Computers History of Software Development | Laneways.Agency

In the 1980s, software development hit a particular pain point among people: accessibility. Today’s technology giant Apple released Apple II to the public in 1977. The first spreadsheet software for personal computing called VisiCalc was also developed by the technology leader. The first software used a specialized programming language so it would run. Another development in the 1980s was IBM’s entry in personal computing space with IBM PC. 

It was in the same era where software program development first gained momentum. In this decade, other many programs like AutoCADMicrosoft Word, and Microsoft Excel were released. Today, Microsoft produced more tools with different design created for work and business all over the world. Microsoft made a number of applications used in different computers like PowerPoint, Publisher, and other programs that could make work easier.

In general, personal computer programs at the time were for business support. Systems with large scale were crafted and advanced machines became available to handle more complex needs and a large number of data.

The Era of Mobile Operating System

The programming language for mobile phones was a new development that would become one of the windows to the technology-led future. 

IBM released the world’s very first publicly available modern smartphone in 1994. Dubbed as “Simon,” the phone featured touchscreen, calendar, and email client. 

At the time, however, it does not allow the use of the Internet because web browsers were only recently invented then.

The Era of Mobile Operating System History of Software Development | Laneways.Agency

It is a large contrast today—in the time of digital shift—because people mainly use the web in their mobile phones.

The system, as well as the programming languages, for mobile phones, is different from that of standard computers. The first smartphones could not allow additional room for new programs. But simple programming languages would soon then be released for mobile phones to allow programmers to create applications.

A smartphone’s design has been enhanced to incorporate additional use. For one, RIM released in 1999 the very first Blackberry 850 device. Apple, meanwhile, changed the game of computer science when it introduced the iPhone in 2007.

Mobile computing systems continued to flourish after that and apps like improved games began to emerge. Mobile applications became an integral component of development using languages such as Swift and Java.

Software Development as We Know It Today

The history of software development has proven that innovation stems from a previous innovation. Today, the programming language and operating systems only continue to be enhanced further. 

Software development has been supported by different kinds of programming through the years. 

For example, object-oriented programming is a model that focuses on software design on data, or so-called objects, instead of functions and logic. 

On the other hand, structured programming—another term software engineering professional knows—is a model that makes use of structured control flow constructs of selection and repetition, among others, in developing computer programs and systems.

Software Development as We Know It Today History of Software Development | Laneways.Agency

We build custom software with modern solutions in mind for any business and sizes!

We build custom software with modern solutions in mind for any business and sizes!

The history of software development, with the more and more progress, has covered a wide range of innovation indeed. Additional information on how to improve different systems, which can help business and other organizations, have surfaced.

Even though the languages, such as Java and Python, are relatively younger compared to others, they have become a staple in software development projects.

Software Development and Artificial Intelligence

With artificial intelligence or AI, the course of the history of software development has been forever changed. AI innovates how a software is being designed and tested, among others, which can also be beneficial for software engineering. 

In addition, AI can help pinpoint patterns across projects, automate coding generation, temper coding errors, and predict outcome through machine learnings, among others.

Truly, as what has the past decades have proven, there is more room for innovation when it comes to software development. 

Improvement has become a trend to make sure that this particular field continues growing, offering more helpful and useful features for the end-users. 

As they say, technology boosts us to move forward.

Software Development and Artificial Intelligence History of Software Development | Laneways.Agency

Reach out to Laneways Software & Digital for all your custom software development needs, along with cloud and app development and professional website services.

Jerome Rault

Jerome Rault

Cloud-based technology advisor, consultant, and investor. CEO Laneways Software & Digital

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