I just stumbled across a very interesting article this afternoon and thought I'd share it with everybody through my blog. The article, published in Information Week is titled What's The Greatest Software Ever Written? And isn't that an intriguing question?
Well, I read through the article and other than a few quibbles here and there I'd have to say that the author did a good job of assembling his list. He spends quite a bit of time talking about the IBM 360 project - and well he should. This was one of the first truly huge software projects and it set the bar for what is expected of an operating system. It also was the catalyst for causing one of the best ever books on software development to be written - The Mythical Man Month. Written by Fred Brooks, the manager in charge of the IBM 360 project, this book outlines many of the truisms about software development that we acknowledge even today - more than 40 years later. If you work in IT and you haven't read The Mythical Man Month you really should buy a copy and read it immediately. Anyway, this blog isn't about that book, so let's move on.
I won't spoil it here and publish the list of greatest software - you will have to click on the link for the article and read it yourself (the actual list doesn't start until page 3 of the article, but don't just click right over to that page, read the whole thing).
Suffice it to say, several IBM projects make the list (I'm kinda partial to what came in at #2 -- it would've been my #1 actually). And I think perhaps that VisiCalc belongs on the list instead of the spreadsheet software that is listed - I mean, Dan Bricklin invented the entire spreadsheet category of software when Software Arts published VisiCalc back in the late 1970s.
But the article is good anyway and I'm sure it is almost impossible to publish a list like this without causing disagreement - and perhaps that is its intent any way. So take a moment and click over to the article and give it a read. And feel free to share your thoughts on it here by posting a comment or two.