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Tech history in photos: Software giants of the 1970s

Microsoft CEO and cofounder Bill Gates

The 1970s are widely regarded as the decade that software companies started to come into their own. Here are the major people and personalities behind the growth of the software industry.

This first photo features Bill Gates, who co-founded Microsoft with Paul Allen. He is, arguably, the most well-known founder of a software company of all time.

About

Conner Forrest is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. He covers Google and startups and is passionate about the convergence of technology and culture.

8 comments
Network Doctor
Network Doctor

Fun Fact: The picture above is the silhouette picture in Outlook when the user doesn't have a profile picture.

fiosdave
fiosdave

How about Ed Roberts (MITS), the creator of the Altair microcomputer.

He gave Microsoft its initial push. This fostered the S-100 bus which was the foundation for all the PC style desktop computers.

Philogos
Philogos

In my view, this doesn't really do justice to the dominant models in software as we now know them. In the seventies, we were seeing the forerunners of today's Operating System standards and my picks for the pioneers there would be Ritchie and Thompson together with Gary Kildall and Dave Cutler.


I'd go with the Oracle crew for the database medal and I'd say that the pioneers of object orientation need more recognition than just a mention for the head or PARC. How about Alan Kay and even Dahl and Nysgard (although they started in the sixties).


The other thing that really dominates today's computing environment is the communications links and I'd have to give a nod to Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn for TCP.


The SAP team gets in, but for their dominance of the large company space and so would Gates, I think, but for Office apps and one could argue long and hard about how much he was a software inventor and how much a business genius.


21Tech
21Tech

No Dennis Ritchie or Ken Thompson? I guess you're measuring giant status in $ and not contribution to computing. What would any of these guys have done without C or Unix?

edward.keating
edward.keating

Microsoft didn't actually incorporate until 1981 - hardly a "giant" of the 1970s unless you are referring to Microsoft basic available for a number of 8080 and 6502 based machines. Real growth was in the 1980s. Same with much of the rest mentioned here.

No Sun Microsystems and BSD development?

Ron_The_Writer
Ron_The_Writer

Probably because Bill Gates' mother was on the IBM Board.

ttuckerman
ttuckerman

The Gary Kidall slide is incorrect.  IBM did license CP/M, but Bill Gates and Microsoft had a better contract with IBM.  DOS was $100 and CP/M was $250 per my recollection.  DOS won for some reason.