The history of coding and software engineering

By Kevin Juhasz

Engineering has been around for centuries. Software made its debut in 1948 and wasn’t widely called that until 1952. It would be a decade later when the discipline of software engineering was given its name and its due as a form of engineering on the same level as others. For the last 50 years, software engineering has had an interesting trip and become a vital part of shaping and maintaining the world.


The 1960s were a time when software engineering was accepted as its own form of engineering but was also a time of trouble for the development of software. The software side struggled to keep pace with the hardware, which created problems for the field.

1963/1964 – While developing the guidance and navigation systems for the Apollo missions, computer scientist and systems engineer Margaret Hamilton coins the term “software engineering.” Hamilton felt that software developers earned the right to be called engineers.

1965 – The “Software Crisis” begins as software struggles to keep up with advances in hardware. Some of the problems included software that ran over budget and past deadlines, needed extensive de-bugging, failed to meet the needs of users, required large amounts of maintenance (if it was even possible to maintain), or was simply never completed.

1968 – The first NATO Software Engineering Conference is held. The second would follow a year after. The conferences were designed to address the issues of the software crisis as well as establish guidelines and best practices for the development of software.


The Software Crisis continued as software engineers seek to right the ship. The 1970s were a time when software engineering began its rise as new ideas, languages, and hardware were introduced.

1970Pascal, a programming language that uses structured programming and data structuring, is introduced. The language was designed by Nicklaus Wirth.

1972 Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie begins the development of the C programming language. It would grow to become one of the most popular programming languages. This was also the time when the Unix operating system, developed by Ritchie and Ken Thompson, made its debut. Ritchie, who died in 2011, is recognized as one of the most important people in software technology, and his work can be found in almost every software created in the modern age.

1975The first PCs begin to make their debut. Many of these PCs were designed for business and not the home.

1979 – Seattle University begins offering a master’s degree in computer engineering.


The 1980s continued to show great changes as the Software Crisis began to wind down. New languages and tools help begin the journey toward better engineering and the move toward object-oriented programming begins.

1980 – The Ada programming language, first designed by Jean Ichbiah, makes its first appearance.

1982 – The first CASE tools that were called CASE tools begin to appear on the market. Computer-Aided Software Engineering is designed to improve the quality of the system while also reducing cost and development time.

1985 – The C++ Programming Language is released, which has functional, generic, object-oriented,  and procedural features. Since its introduction, the language has been continually updated and is the fourth most popular language in use. Dutch computer scientist Bjane Strousop conceived and developed the language.

1989 – Companies begin to offer access to the internet. It’s used mainly by scientists and the military.


This decade was a boon for programming languages, with some of the most popular ones used today being introduced. The 1990s introduced a number of other big changes to the software engineering industry: object-oriented programming began to grow in popularity, the Internet made its debut, and a new approach to development was introduced.

1990 – Tim Berners-Lee develops WorldWideWeb, the first web browser. He also creates HTTP, HTML, and the first web pages, which described what he created.

1990 – Although the term had been used for years before (and there is a dispute over who coined it), the use of the term “big data” begins to grow.

1991 – The Python programming language makes its debut, which would eventually become one of the most popular programming languages because of its large standard library and liberal use of white space.

1995 – The Java programming language, developed by James Gosling, is released. It would grow to be the most popular language in use, popular for being “Write Once, Run Anywhere.” The program was originally developed for interactive television, but those plans had to be changed because the language was too advanced for it.

1995 – JavaScript, a just-in-time, object-oriented programming language is introduced. JavaScript allows for interactive web pages and is used by a majority of web sites.

1996 – Rochester Institute of Technology introduces the first bachelor’s degree program in software engineering.

1998 – U.S. Naval Postgraduate School offers the first doctorate program in software engineering.

1999 – Kent Beck introduces extreme programming, a type of agile software development that is designed to respond to the changing requirements of the user.


Languages and tools became less of a focus as companies continued to improve on what was established in the two decades before. The bigger focus in the 2000s was on methodology as developers looked to make the process more responsive to customer needs, more profitable, and easier to create.

2001 The Manifesto for Agile Software Development is published. It covers the values and principles of Agile software development, which focuses on development via a collaborative effort by cross-functional teams and customers.

2001 – Scrum, an agile process that uses iterative and incremental framework for complex software development, is introduced by Ken Schwaber and Mike Beedle. The practice had been around since the 1990s but did not start to gain wide use until the 2000s.

2004 – The Software Engineering Body of Knowledge is introduced. The collaborative work addresses numerous software issues, including design, construction, maintenance, and more.


While providing continuous improvements to languages and methods, the focus shifts again to address the need for software engineers with a new style of learning made to enhance traditional software engineering education.

2010 – Cloud computing begins its rise, which eventually leads to increased demand for software-as-a-service and provides a new avenue for software engineering.

2011 – Coding bootcamps begin to pop up. In less than 8 years, about 95 bootcamps would be introduced. Bootcamps are a way to teach the latest technology in an intensive program designed to make students ready for entry-level employment.

2012 – Inspired by the immersive education experience he had in Korea, Tony Phillips starts Hack Reactor with his brother Marcus Phillips and Shawn Drost. Their first class consisted of 16 students, all of whom found jobs.

2014 – After one student is prevented from attending classes because of visa issues, Hack Reactor launches the nation’s first online coding bootcamp. Today, students from more than 20 countries use online bootcamps.

2018 – Hack Reactor is acquired by Galvanize, adding valuable product offerings, additional campuses, and services.


If you’re interested in coding bootcamp education, get started in a Hack Reactor Coding Bootcamp today! We have options for beginners and intermediate learners.

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