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Wheeler Introduction Too many people confuse software innovations with other factors, such as the increasing speed of computer and network hardware. The results may surprise you. People seem to confuse hardware and software, so by Scientific innovations essay not including hardware, we get a different and interesting picture we do not see otherwise.
For example, the concept of a copylefting license is an innovative software licensing approach that permits modification while forbidding the software from becoming proprietary; Scientific innovations essay is used by a vast array of software via the General Public License GPL.
As a result, you may be surprised by the number of events in computing history that are not on this list. Most software products are not software innovations by themselves, since most products are simply re-implementations of another idea.
Later word processors such as Word Perfect and Microsoft Word were later re-implementations by other vendors, not innovations themselves. Some major events in computing are simply product announcements of hardware, and have nothing to do with innovations in software. Occasionally a product is the first appearance of an innovation e.
The first implementation and first widespread implementation are often noted as well. In some cases identifying a specific date or event is difficult; I welcome references to earlier works.
Also, Abbate page claims Steve Bellovin was at Duke, but this is wrong. Note that, in general, these sources mix computer hardware and software together. Salus were checked too.
The Association for Computing Machinery ACM Software Systems Award was helpful, but this rewards the developers of influential software systems; the recipients are certainly worthy, but in many cases the influential software systems represent good engineering and refinement of already-existing ideas, instead of being the first implementation of a new idea themselves.
As is discussed futher later, we need to distinguish between innovations and important products; a product can be important or useful without being innovative. After I started identifying innovations, many asked me about software patents. I have done what I can to find applicable patents, though the problems are legion.
Software patents are often incomprehensible, even by software experts. Search systems cannot find all relevant software patents; unlike drugs, there is no good indexing system, either for software patents or for software ideas in general different words can be used for the same idea.
This inability to find patents causes many other problems. Software patents are often granted for prior art, even though they are not supposed to be.
Indeed, someone else can hear of an idea possibly years laterfile a software patent, and the patent office is likely to grant it. The patent office may even grant a software patent on something already patented.
Yet if the real question about software patents is, "do patents provide an incentive to innovate in software", then things can be simplified. If that were true, it is reasonable to presume that a the innovator or his company would file the patent, b that it would have a form corresponding to the original innovation, and c he would file within the legal grace period 12 months from date of public knowledge.
Also, patents generally were not granted on software before My thanks to Jim Bessen for these insights. These factors make patent searching far more tractable, e.
My thanks to many, including Jim Bessen, for searching for patents on these key innovations to find relevant patents. Where found, this article identifies the US patent number. If no patent has been identified, that means that people have looked but not found a plausibly-valid patent for it.
The section on software patents discusses this further.The Energy Racket. By Wade Frazier. Revised in June Introduction and Summary. A Brief Prehistory of Energy and Life on Earth.
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This paper identifies the most important innovations in software, removing hardware advances and products that didn't embody significant new software innovations.
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