A Brief History Of Enterprise Software

At Software Advice, we recently decided to get a little noook back at the history of software. Most of the modern business world is utterly dependent on the innovations in business software over the last 60 years. The progress that we’ve made in the last six decades has been nothing short of spectacular. Software and computers has gone from something only a very few successful companies could afford to something that the masses access on a daily basis. Our editor, Lara Zuehlke undertook the mission to tell the story of enterprise software, and technology innovation, in recent history. It’s a story that spans from the days of the mainframe to the current technologies of cloud computing and virtualization. It’s a long and complex story with many actors but it’s a history worth learning as it helps explain how we go to where we are today. Here’s a recap of our four-part series on enterprise software.

Part 1: Origins Of Modern Computing

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.

Part 2: Minicomputers To The PC

Of course the dominance of mainframes and supercomputers soon gave way to the minicomputer, which would eventually led us to the personal computer (PC). Until the personal computer arrived on the scenes, computing was largely limited to the enterprise. By the late 1970s, that started to change as innovations by IBM, Microsoft and Apple brought computers to the masses. With the introduction of the PC, the enterprise was simultaneously transformed by the acceleration of enterprise software adoption.

Part 3: Windows To The Web

Along with the advent of PCs and the democratization of software, information sharing was becoming much easier. Client-server technology and the adoption of the Windows platform encouraged a shift from infrastructure development to application development. In 1987, Oracle opened what would become an incredibly successful applications department and the source of many industry acquisitions. A short while later, the emergence of the Internet changes the game again and wins the attention of consumers and businesses alike.

Part 4: Dotcom To Today

The dotcom era and the “Y2K bug” fuel massive enterprise IT growth – as businesses realize the power of the Internet and purchase new software to prevent what was thought to be a meltdown at the turn of the millennium. On the downside of those peaks, the software industry went through a metamorphosis, with many companies busting or acquired by larger vendors during a massive wave of industry consolidation. Now software as a service (SaaS) and mobile computing seem to be reinvigorated the industry as new technologies are widely adopted and SaaS begins to head toward critical mass.Whew, so there’s the quick recap. After checking out our series, feel free to leave us a comment if there are any big trends we missed or that you remember as groundbreaking. Just stop by any of the articles and leave us a note in the comments section.

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Derek Singleton writes for Software Advice.


  1. There are different software categories in the area software engineering. One of them is Enterprise Softwares which operates with in an enterprise e.g. sap. There are software that are not span across the whole enterprise but may use internet or other network to perform the job and what do you call this types of softwares ???

  2. The post is really helpful to relate and to see what are changes in last 6 decade where we are from starting point of the technology. Today all enterprise has an enterprise software from whom they will manage all client relative Data.

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