Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 2nd May 2014 20:03 UTC
Talk, Rumors, X Versus Y

So I set myself the task of picking five great works of software. The criteria were simple: How long had it been around? Did people directly interact with it every day? Did people use it to do something meaningful? I came up with the office suite Microsoft Office, the image editor Photoshop, the videogame Pac-Man, the operating system Unix, and the text editor Emacs.

Each person has his or her own criteria for these sorts of things, but in my view, this list is woefully inadequate. If it were up to me, I would pick these, in no particular order:

  • A-0 System: the first ever compiler, written by Grace Hopper in 1951 and 1952, for the UNIVAC I.
  • UNIX: This one's a given.
  • WorldWideWeb/CERN HTTPd: the first web browser and the first web server, both written by Tim Berners-Lee. Also a given.
  • Xerox Star: this one is actually a tie between the Star, its research predecessor the Alto, and Douglas Engelbart's NLS. These three combined still define the way we do computing today - whether you look at a desktop, a smartphone, or a tablet. I decided to go with the Star because it was the only one of the three that was commercially available, and because it's so incredibly similar to what we still use today.
  • Windows: you cannot have a list of the greatest software of all time without Windows. You may not like it, you may even hate it, but the impact Windows has had on the computing world - and far, far beyond that - is immense. Not including it is a huge disservice to the operating system that put a computer on every desk, in every home.

This leaves a whole bunch of others out, such as Lotus 1-2-3, DOS, the Mac OS, Linux, and god knows what else - but such is the nature of lists like this.

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Lotus 1-2-3 and WordPerfect
by phoenix on Fri 2nd May 2014 20:24 UTC
Member since:

Without them, there would be no MS Office. It's just too bad that even with them, there's an MS Office to fight with everyday. ;)

I really miss my WordPerfect. It's too bad they dropped Unix support with 7? 8? And then dropped Linux support with 9. ;) If there was a modern Linux version, I'd still be using it (the last version no longer runs on recent versions of Linux). I still use WordPerfect 9 on Windows XP/7.

There really is no replacement for Reveal Codes, SGML-based file formats, or the PDF features (LibreOffice PDF export is good, but not as great as WPs).

Reply Score: 7

hobgoblin Member since:

Supposedly the MS Office formats have idiosyncrasies that can be traced back to compatibility with Lotus 1-2-3...

Reply Parent Score: 2

Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:

Yup. At least the traditional excel .xls format has a bug in it by design to remain compatible with lotus 1-2-3. The date format incorrectly assumes that 1900 was a leap year, or something like that. It stores the date/time as number of days since Jan 1, 1900, so every date would be off a day if it didn't account for it. Open office/libre also have the same behavior.

Reply Parent Score: 3

ConceptJunkie Member since:

Not to mention every bug and design mistake made in the last 25 years.

Calling Windows, and especially Office, good software is like describing the U.S. tax code as a pinnacle of good legislation.

Reply Parent Score: 2

deathshadow Member since:

Uhm... If you're going to follow that logic, shouldn't we be saying Visicalc and Electric Pencil?

I mean, where do you draw the line?

Though honestly, I wouldn't list WordPerfect over Wordstar -- as at least today there are still people using ^K commands; as opposed to putting an overlay over the function keys... ;)

Reply Parent Score: 5