The software industry has evolved and completely changed the way we look at the world, conduct operations and even perceive technology. Software industry growth has been a constant and a quick one.
As the world collectively uses multitudes of software on a daily basis, it is essential to understand where it all began, how has the software industry growth been until now and what is next!
Let’s look at the history of software and the software industry. But before that, it is essential to know what software means.
What is software?
Software is basically a code that performs machine-specific functions such as retrieving and displaying data. Software is designed for human use, but it can also be used by a person’s computer/server to increase its own efficiency. In fact, the software is the backbone of everything from phones and tablets to nuclear submarines.
The software consists of a set of instructions written in code that tells a device how to perform a specific task. It’s mostly designed to make people’s tasks easier, but it can also help create powerful machines. For example, an online app could increase the efficiency of an exercise program by precisely measuring a person’s heart rate during a workout.
Today, software drives our world. It’s vital to advanced society that we have people that can write, compile and implement software professionally.
Software is often also defined as a collection of instructions that follow the syntax and conventions of the programming language. The instructions can be human-readable or machine-processable and can include data as well as control flows.
In brief and simpler terms, the software is a set of instructions that are fed into the memory of digital systems like computers, laptops and mobile phones. Software help users in carrying out specific processes and tasks. They tell computers how to function and operate.
The History of Software Industry
The advent of computers and computer science is known to be the first few signs of the growth of software. Many believe the idea of computers came from devices such as the abacus and other similar mechanisms. But these devices were hardware and not software, the only computing element they had was fed into the way they were designed.
An article by Mapcon.com summarises the history of software extremely well, it states, “During the 1950s, standardized programming languages emerged from the need to reproduce old software on new hardware. By the 1960s, software – until then given away for free with new computers – was being produced and sold to end users.
By the 1980s, software companies saw the potential in the user-friendly graphical interfaces we are now familiar with; Apple started producing operating systems in the mid-1980s and Microsoft in the early 1990s, leading to the era of convenient and fast software.”
The initial stage of development:
Ada Lovelace wrote the first computer algorithm for an analytical engine in the 19th century.
Whereas, it was Alan Turning who proposed a modern theory of software in 1935 in an essay in a book called Electronic Brains.
Before 1946, the software did not exist as we understand it now, which is stored in the memory of digital computers. Earlier digital devices were rewired in order to be reprogrammed.
ENIAC, which is one of the first electronic computers, was majorly built by women who had been working on human computers.
In 1950, Kathleen Booth had developed Assembly Language which made it easier to program computers.
Early years of computer software:
It was a stored program developed by John Von Neumann that led to the computer software industry as it is today.
In the early 1950s, One of the first computer software involved UNIVAC I and IBM 700 Series computers. In this stage, computers were majorly built for huge businesses as well as governments. They had central processing units along with an in-built memory. These computers were also connected to multiple boxes for storage and input/output purposes.
At that time, computers were as costly as hundred and thousands of dollars, were sold by a few companies and were majorly used for business and governmental purposes.
Earlier, computer programmers used to feed binary codes into the computers in order to get them to perform a task. In case anything went wrong, the whole program had to be done from the beginning.
It was in 1948 for the first time when a programmed computer held in its electronic memory a piece of software. It was Tom Kilburn who did a few calculations using the computer. The computer was called Manchester Baby and Google has also released a tribute to it calling that stage in time “birth of software”.
In 1950, the programming language FORTRAN (Formula Translation) was developed at IBM it was later released in 1957. It became so popular that major manufacturers had begun using it by 1963.
A few years later other programming languages were also developed including COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language) and FORMAC. COBOL also caught great success and was used to write almost all business app programs in the US.
Along with programming languages, operating systems were also being developed. In the late 1950s, the Share User Group initiated the launch of the first operating system that was integrated, which was called the Share Operating System. The Share Operating System or SOS became the premise on which many future operating systems were developed.
Post the development of basic software elements:
In 1964, IMB launched IBM System/360 which changed the landscape of the digital world and how viewers saw computers. Through this, IBM built operating systems that offered enhanced productivity of computer elements including storage, interfaces, calculations, memory, etc.
While IBM had decided to offer two operating systems OS and DOS in 1964, they weren’t able to deliver them before 1966 because it was a far more difficult task than they had imagined.
Companies realised that it was essential to develop programmes that can be used by many users, instead of one single user using one plan. Many organizations began creating application programmers for different purposes. Until the late 1960s, packaged programs grew to a great extent.
IBM began the journey towards unbundled software. Looking at IBM, many Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) got into producing application programs and software.
The latter stages of software development:
In the early 1970s, database software created a premise On Line Transaction Processing software applications. It was these application implementation models for businesses.
C Language became available for developers to use in 1973. The first commercial relational database management system was delivered by Oracle in 1979.
IBM used DOS from Microsoft to deliver its first personal computer in 1981. Multi-vendor LAN was showcased by GM at a conference in 1984.
In 1991, the World Wide Web became available for all to use and the world has never looked back.
The growth of the software industry has been immense and the world is continuing to grow towards a digitally developed tomorrow.
Growth of the Indian Software Industry:
Many companies initially began as being software exporters and were exporting software to businesses around the world. Indian companies created their internet infrastructure and they further used it to remotely deliver services related to the software to global organisations.
As Indian organisations began gaining experience and became home to many organisations to develop software products.
Organisations also realised the potential of Indian developers and companies and started setting up their IT and software departments.
Over a thousand companies today have their software and IT teams set up in India.
Communications at the ACM wrote in research, “India, today, has over 7,000 start-ups (started less than five years ago), and over 1,200 technology start-ups were established in just the last year.”
The publication added, “In the last few years, 18 start-ups touched US$1 billion in market capitalization. Walmart bought India’s largest e-commerce company, Flipkart, which is only about 11 years old, at a valuation of US$21 billion.”
How Has The Software Industry Evolved Over The Years?
The world has seen over two-fold increase in the growth of the software and software industry. The software industry has grown to a high extent over the last few years. We have come to a point today where the software industry has deeply penetrated our environment and surrounded us. Today for every operation businesses need software to efficiently, effectively and more productively deliver tasks and reach goals.
Earlier most revenue generated from programming and coding used to be from software companies. That has been changed and generating the most revenue from SaaS or Software as a Service Organizations.
Also read, SaaS Customer Success KPIs
Today, we use thousands of software programmers in our everyday lives and the advancement of technology. It has also led to Artificial intelligence and the Metaverse.
It has been because of the software industry that countries like India have been able to reduce costs, enhance quality, create jobs and help the economy.
CACM stated in the report, “Assuming a cost difference of over 50% between developed locations and India. The Indian IT industry has helped global enterprises save over US$500 billion in the last five years alone.”
How Has Software Changed The World?
The software has changed the world in a hugely positive way. The birth of the internet and digitization have revolutionized society, leading to globalization and innovations of unparalleled quality, accessibility and usefulness. The software has enabled us to communicate more effectively and efficiently with each other. Create products that are more innovative than ever before and become masters of our own destinies.
In the early 1990s, software was a tool for solving the problems of a nation. From powerful software platforms to powerful databases and web services, today’s software solutions serve people across borders and industries.
The increasing need for technology in the business world has been a driving force behind this development. The software has a huge impact on our day-to-day lives, either positively or negatively depending on what it can do.
As the software industry began penetrating into people’s lives, it became impossible to stay away.
By 2008, over a million people had bought personal computers. In 2013, researchers said there were over 1.4 billion smartphones in use.
Over 5 billion people worldwide, 63% of the total population, use the internet currently.
Internet-connected population in the world has grown by 200 million from April 2021 to April 2022. Internet users grow by 4 percent and it has been predicted that two-thirds of the whole world’s population will be online by 2023.
The growth of software industry has been phenomenal. The world is slowly moving towards Software as a service (SaaS). The internet has literally collapsed the distance between people and businesses, making it easy for startups to start up in the first place. Not just that, connecting people around the world with individuals, businesses and services has led to a holistic growth of the software industry.