A (very) Brief History of Software Testing

Testing has been around longer than you would think and by extension software testing isn’t a relatively new concept either. Before markets became more intricately connected and their customers more diverse, businesses didn’t bother ensuring their products were of a high standard or fully fulfilled their purposes. Governments didn’t enforce standards in quality which meant that that many businesses cut corners.

However, with the onset of the Industrial Revolution and the two World Wars, software and computer development was focused more on usage in major industries, in the war effort and in development in artificial intelligence, rather than commercially. Possibly, the most famous examples were the tests implemented by Alan Turing, such as his Turing Test, a method devised in order to examine a computer’s intelligence; if a human is unable to make a distinction between another human and a computer. Turing also created tests used to check the validity of a large routine and ensuring it was correct. Along with literature such as Quality Control Handbook by Joseph Juran, testing and quality assurance was becoming an irreplaceable step in the development process.

Alan Turing

Commercially, during this period, governments realised the potential immeasurable gains from opening up markets and trading globally, which therefore meant businesses needed to start putting out higher quality products to better compete with their foreign competitors. The story is similar with software testing. In the early days of computing, as computers and the knowledge of how to create software was not readily available for the average man, there were only relatively few programming languages. Additionally, the lack of languages that could run on multiple platforms formed an issue. You can see the problem.

After IBM revolutionised the technology industry with personal computers, demand for software that was compatible with other computers was steadily growing. Interest in and understanding of computers was on the rise as well, as competitors were simultaneously releasing their own products. Accordingly, consumers also wanted programmes that effectively ran on multiple platforms. Focus shifted to producing programmes that could run on various mediums and this meant that programmers had to thoroughly test numerous conditions and combinations before they put a product out into the market. Even today, programmers and companies are continually looking at creating programmes that can run well across platforms and devices, as we are able to carry the internet around with us in our pockets.

Where will the search for quality lead us to next?

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