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The History of Software Testing

I stumbled across a comprehensive resource the other day that summarizes the complete history of software testing.  Apparently, software testing and the underlying ISEB and ISTQB philosophies have their foundations in the year 1822!  This is when an inventor named Charles Babbage created the prototype of a difference engine, which is considered to be the first mechanical computer.  Thus, Babbage’s invention laid the groundwork for the computers we use today.  Then in 1878, Thomas Edison used the term “bug” for the first time to describe a flaw in a system.

Ok, I know those first 2 points probably make great trivia, but to include them under this topic is a stretch if we are focusing on software testing specifically.  So let’s jump forward in the timeline.  It looks like the first software testing concept was introduced in 1949, when a conference speaker postulated a methodology for checking a “routine” to make sure it works correctly. 

Then in 1951, a famous book entitled Total Quality Control was written.  The book introduced the concept that a product should be tested from the perspective of the consumer.  Then in 1957 the first known testing team was formed for Project Mercury, which was the very first US human space flight program.

In 1964, the first BASIC computer program was run at Dartmouth College.  Soon thereafter, IBM began formalizing its methodology for functional testing.  Then in the 1970’s, several testing models were introduced, such as the waterfall model, mutation testing, systems decomposition, functional program testing, and more. 

Beginning in the 1980s, the concept exploded thanks to the introduction of video games, personal computers, and ultimately the Internet.  It’s really a fascinating read if you have about an hour to kill (yes it’s a very long timeline).  But if you have the time I would highly recommend it, as it is literally the most comprehensive software testing history matrix I have ever seen.  The full timeline can be accessed here.

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  1. Quick & Dirty Overview of Functional Testing
  2. History of ISEB and ISTQB Software Testing Certifications

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