From Crystal Reports to Spreadsheets, it may seem like reporting software has always been around. But that is not the case. Today I will take a look at the early history of reporting software and in the next blog I take it further to the present day.
Way back in history, business reporting software was built for accounting and calculation functions, the output of which can be seen as a kind of report. The term "software" itself was not used until the 1960's. Partly this was sped along by the 1959 IBM 1401 Data Processing system which moved from vacuum tubes to transistors only, increasing data process capabilities of its computers and greatly expanding the usefulness of potential report outputs.
Then the early 1970's saw the ushering in of several companies and innovations that would have an impact on the launch of reporting software tools. In 1973 the first Unix operating system was released, a revolution for creating the foundation upon which to build the systems required for running reporting software programs. Among the advantages of Unix versus competing systems was its document preparation, connectors to various printers, hierarchical file system, ubiquity for writing programs, and ability to handle coroutines.
In 1972 SAP was launched, going after Enterprise Resource Planning in the European market. Around the same time the Intel 8008 was launched, creating the ability to handle uppercase and lowercase letters, 10 numerals, punctuation marks and symbols, greatly increasing the utility of potential reports & business reporting tools.
The last half of the 1970's saw the emergence of Microsoft, Apple and Oracle, all key to the reporting software scene in the next decade. And 1979 saw the release of the first spreadsheet software program, Visicalc for the Apple II computer.
The first half of the 1980's saw another wave of firsts and launches with great impact on the reporting as we know it today. 1981 saw the launch of the first ever IBM PC. The launch of Lotus 1-2-3 for the IBM PC spelled the quick end of Visicalc, because it was able to take advantage of the PC's expanded memory and screen, whereas the Visicalc version was simply a port of that which was offered on the previous Apple II version. And in 1985 the first version of Microsoft Excel was launched for the Apple Macintosh.
Let's end Part 1 with the launch in 1988 of Crystal Services, the company that would give birth to Crystal Reports. Crystal Services was launched to provide a DOS-based reporting add-on for ACCPAC accounting. More in Part 2.
What business reporting software were you using back in the 80's and 90's? Share with us by commenting below.