In 1935, English mathematician Alan Turing proposed the first known theory about software in his essay ‘Computable numbers with an application to the Entscheidungs problem (Decision problem)’. The actual ‘software’ term was first used and printed by statistician John W. Turkey in 1958. It was used in computer science and software engineering studies to refer the information processed by a computer system, computer programs and their data.
The most popular historical trace of the first outputs of computer software is found in the first software bug found in computer systems in 1946. Later, in 1970, the term ‘Moore’s law’ was coined to explain the basic elements of a computing system, where the first element was computer software, which then joined the devices in computer hardware.
Computer software was originally offered in conjunction with hardware by Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). Popular OEMs of the time were Data General, Digital Equipment and IBM. Since computer hardware companies originally bundled their software, they were not able to claim the software as an asset. Data Gen then introduced Data General Nova, and the company Digidyne pursued Data General Nova for its RDOS operating system for its own hardware clone. Data General refused to license their software and subsequently claimed ‘bundling rights’. This set a distinct precedent in the history of software – in 1985 The Supreme Court, with Digidyne v. Data General, ruled that Data Gen must license their operating system software because restricting the license was an illegal tying arrangement. This decision increased the value of software, making it possible to purchase computer software patents. Data General was eventually taken over by EMC Corporation. Then, in 1986, IBM released Disk Operating System (DOS) for free, and Microsoft was created.
Widely known visionaries Steve Jobs (Apple) and Bill Gates (Microsoft) took advantage of software development ideas long before they started their own businesses in the 1980’s and have since created multi-billion dollar corporations with their multitudes of software offerings.