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Technical and Social History of Software Engineering, The

By Capers Jones

Published by Addison-Wesley Professional

Published Date: Nov 21, 2013


“Capers Jones has accumulated the most comprehensive data on every aspect of software engineering, and has performed the most scientific analysis on this data. Now, Capers performs yet another invaluable service to our industry, by documenting, for the first time, its long and fascinating history. Capers’ new book is a must-read for every software engineering student and information technology professional.”

— From the Foreword by Tony Salvaggio, CEO and president, Computer Aid, Inc.



Software engineering is one of the world’s most exciting and important fields. Now, pioneering practitioner Capers Jones has written the definitive history of this world-changing industry. Drawing on several decades as a leading researcher and innovator, he illuminates the field’s broad sweep of progress and its many eras of invention. He assesses the immense impact of software engineering on society, and previews its even more remarkable future. Decade by decade, Jones examines trends, companies, winners, losers, new technologies, productivity/quality issues, methods, tools, languages, risks, and more. He reviews key inventions, estimates industry growth, and addresses “mysteries” such as why programming languages gain and lose popularity. Inspired by Paul Starr’s Pulitzer Prize–winning The Social Transformation of American Medicine, Jones’ new book is a tour de force—and compelling reading for everyone who wants to understand how software became what it is today.



• The human need to compute: from ancient times to the modern era

• Foundations of computing: Alan Turing, Konrad Zuse, and World War II

• Big business, big defense, big systems: IBM, mainframes, and COBOL

• A concise history of minicomputers and microcomputers: the birth of Apple and Microsoft

• The PC era: DOS, Windows, and the rise of commercial software

• Innovations in writing and managing code: structured development, objects, agile, and more

• The birth and explosion of the Internet and the World Wide Web

• The growing challenges of legacy system maintenance and support

• Emerging innovations, from wearables to intelligent agents to quantum computing

• Cybercrime, cyberwarfare, and large-scale software failure


Table of Contents

Foreword by Walker Royce vii

Foreword by Tony Salvaggio ix

Preface xix

Acknowledgments xxvii

About the Author xxix


Chapter 1: Prelude: Computing from Ancient Times to the Modern Era 1

The Human Need to Compute 1

Early Sequence of Numerical Knowledge 3

Inventions for Improved Mathematics 8

Key Inventions Relevant to Software 21

The Impact of Software on People and Society 23

Summary 35


Chapter 2: 1930 to 1939: The Foundations of Digital Computing 37

The First Innovators of Modern Computing 37

Small Mathematical Applications 40

Summary 42


Chapter 3: 1940 to 1949: Computing During World War II and the Postwar Era 43

Global Conflict and Computing 43

Wartime Innovations 45

Computers in the Postwar Era 68

Historical Contributions of the Decade 73

Building Software in 1945 75

Summary 76


Chapter 4: 1950 to 1959: Starting the Ascent of Digital Computers and Software 77

Military and Defense Computers in the 1950s 77

Innovators of the 1950s 81

Programming Languages of the 1950s 84

The First Commercial Computers 85

Software Applications in the 1950s 89

Function Points in 1955 90

Summary 91


Chapter 5: 1960 to 1969: The Rise of Business Computers and Business Software 93

An Evolving Workforce 93

Early Specialized Outsourcing 95

Computer Programmers in the 1960s 96

IBM System/360 104

The Turing Award 106

The Invention of the Credit Card 109

Automation and New Professions 110

The DEC PDP-1 111

Programming Languages of the 1960s 112

The Computer Business of the 1960s 115

Litigation Changes the Computer World Forever 118

Computers and Software in Space 119

Computer and Software Growth in the 1960s 120

Function Points Backfired for 1965 122

Summary 123


Chapter 6: 1970 to 1979: Computers and Software Begin Creating Wealth 125

Software Evolution in the 1970s 125

Major Companies Formed During the 1970s 129

Computer and Software Companies Formed During the 1970s 130

The Impact of Companies Founded During the 1970s 145

The Troublesome Growth of Software Applications 146

Numerous Fragmented Software Subcategories 147

A Lawsuit That Changed Computer History 158

Background Enabling Inventions 159

Function Points in 1975 162

Summary 163


Chapter 7: 1980 to 1989: The Rise of Personal Computers and Personal Software 165

Rapid Changes in Computing 166

Companies Formed During the 1980s 168

The Growth of Software During the 1980s 204

Results for 1,000 Function Points Circa 1985 204

Summary 205


Chapter 8: 1990 to 1999: Expansion of the World Wide Web and the Rise of Dot-Coms 207

Emergence of the World Wide Web 208

Other Innovations of the 1990s 210

Companies Formed During the 1990s 212

Mass Updates and Aging Legacy Software 237

Incompatibilities of International Date Formats 239

The Expansion of Outsourcing 243

Growth of Software Applications During the 1990s 243

Results for 1,000 Function Points Circa 1995 244

Summary 245


Chapter 9: 2000 to 2009: The Rise of Social Networks and Economic Crises 247

The Dot-Com Bubble 248

The Great Recession 250

Innovations of the 2000s 254

Companies Formed During the 2000s 257

Growth of Software from 2000 to 2010 283

Results for 1,000 Function Points Circa 2005 284

Summary 285


Chapter 10: 2010 to 2019: Clouds, Crowds, Blogs, Big Data, and Predictive Analytics 287

Predicting the Future 288

Professional Status for Software Engineering 289

Possible Software Engineering Improvements in the 2010s 293

Companies Formed During the Early 2010s 296

Predicting New Companies and Products from 2013 to 2019 311

Projected Growth of Software from 2010 to 2019 327

Results for 1,000 Function Points Circa 2015 328

Summary 329


Chapter 11: Modern Software Problems 331

Analysis of Major Software Failures 331

Summary 349


Chapter 12: A Brief History of Cybercrime and Cyberwarfare 351

A New Form of Crime 351

Types of Cyberattacks 362

The Odds of Being Attacked 392

Improving Defenses Against Cyberattacks 394

Raising Our Immunity to Cyberattacks 396

The Increasing Frequency and Costs of Cyberattacks in the United States 404

Summary 406


Appendix A: Annotated Bibliography and References 407


Index 423


Technical and Social History of Software Engineering, The

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