“Most red-blooded technologists will offer a quick opinion on what’s the greatest software ever, but when you take the time to evaluate what makes software truly brilliant, the choices aren’t so obvious,” Charles Babcock writes for InformationWeek.
Babcock writes, “First, let’s set criteria for what makes software great. Superior programming can be judged only within its historical context. It must represent a breakthrough, technical brilliance, something difficult that hadn’t been done before. And it must be adopted in the real world.”
12. The Morris worm
11. Google search rank
10. Apollo guidance system
9. Excel spreadsheet
8. Macintosh OS: “I can still remember the first time I sat down at a Macintosh at a hole-in-the-wall computer shop in Endicott, N.Y. I got that ‘rocket science’ feeling: I could see what it was doing, but I couldn’t believe it. The Mac incorporated the power of object-oriented computing into the user interface, and users have never looked back. The first Mac operating system was great software,” Babcock writes.
7. Sabre system
6. Mosaic browser
5. Java language
4. IBM System 360 OS
3. Institute for Genomic Research’s gene-sequencing software
2. IBM’s System R
1. BSD 4.3 (Note: Apple’s Mac OS X is based on the Mach kernel and the BSD implementation of Unix)
Full article, an excellent read, here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “TJS” for the heads up.]
A followup piece examines why Microsoft’s operating system didn’t make the cut in InformationWeek’s ranking of the greatest software ever written here.
MacDailyNews Note: In the full article, you’ll notice a bit about Xerox PARC and the Apple Mac that’s overly generalized. The definitive history on Xerox PARC and the Apple Mac can be found in various articles at Folklore.org. For those interested, a good place to start would be Bruce Horn’s “On Xerox, Apple and Progress.”
[UPDATE: 11:22am EDT: Added link to followup article about Windows’ failure to crack the list.]