Software Advice, an online reviewer of ERP software, has published a four-part series on the history of enterprise software. In the series, Lara Zuehlke, Managing Editor at Software Advice, investigates how computing hardware and software evolved from punched cards all the way to the Internet and social applications.
Here’s a link to each of the four parts, with a quick summary of the history each covers.
The back story on enterprise software can be traced all the way to the 1700s with punched cards, but computing really got its legs at end of the 19th century when Herman Hollierth founded the company that would eventually become International Business Machines (IBM). From there, mainframes and supercomputers dominated throughout the early to mid 1900s. Further advances led to the birth of new stages in computing: the minicomputer, and the early stages of enterprise software.
Advances in circuits, processors and memory allowed computers to shrink from room-sized machines to computers that could fit onto any office desk. While computers became less expensive, they were still too expensive for many personal and business users outside of large enterprises. This changed as minicomputers and personal computers put computing and software into many homes and businesses.
Great advances in operating systems - including the graphical user interface (GUI) - allowed for the emergence of the first class of enterprise software applications. Software development was now in full force, and solutions now known as manufacturing resource planning (MRP), enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), and human resources (HR) began deploying in most businesses. The next great development would redefine computing as we knew it, and change how we live today - the Internet.
Thanks to Y2K and the Dotcom Era, IT saw unprecedented growth in the mid-to-late 1990s. Fears of the year 2000 caused many businesses to upgrade their software systems, while the Internet led to a enormous number of new business ventures - many of which would fail after the Dotcom bubble burst. Market consolidation within the industry signaled the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one: the Software as a Service (SaaS) Era. These applications spurred the licensing model and were available on-demand via subscription pricing. Cloud applications, tablet computers and mobile technology are some of the trends leading us right up to the present.