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.

Thread beginning with comment 588054
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
by Milo_Hoffman on Fri 2nd May 2014 23:29 UTC
Member since:

Come on guys....


it broke huge amounts of ground in networking, clustering(including long distance clustering), distributed shared storage/filesystem, multiuser, distributed processing, distributed print queuing, distributed job queues, multitasking, shell scripting, integrated database, distributed lock manager, high levels of security, etc.. most large operating systems are STILL trying to get these things correctly and it was built right into VMS in the mid-80s, a full decade before Windows95 even got networking built in.

I am a unix/linux guy by my profession, but I cut my teeth on VMS in the early days and it was and still is an amazing system.

Edited 2014-05-02 23:35 UTC

Reply Score: 4

by tidux on Sat 3rd May 2014 09:26 in reply to "VMS"
tidux Member since:

VMS misses the list because even among nerds few people have heard of it. Like the Amiga, it was badly managed and badly sold, and there was no port to commodity hardware and/or open sourcing that could have saved it in time. Now VMS is scheduled for EOL next year and HP shows no signs of releasing source.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: VMS
by tylerdurden on Sat 3rd May 2014 16:38 in reply to "RE: VMS"
tylerdurden Member since:

Not really.

The VAX/VMS combo was one of the reasons why DEC became at some point the second largest computer vendor after IBM.

Yeah, eventually minicomputers went the way of the dodo and so did DEC. But that is irrelevant of the fact that VMS had a very significant/seminal impact on the development of technologies such as networking, clustering, fault tolerance, etc.

Edited 2014-05-03 16:39 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 6