An important book for anyone doing the history of computing is From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog by Martin Campbell-Kelly. This book more or less invents the field of software history by outlining the important phases, sectors and sources. Other histories have focused on individual companies, heros, or periods; Campbell-Kelly tries to survey the history (at least up to 1995) and define what needs to be considered and what we don’t know. In particular he tries to correct the consumer view that the history of software is about Microsoft. To that end he spends a lot of time on mainframe software and the sorts of services like IBM CICS (Customer Information Control System) that allows ATMs and other systems to reliably communicate transactions.
Martin Campbell-Kelly in the first chapter outlines three phases to the history of software that also correspond to sectors of the industry:
- From mid 1950s, Software Contracting
- From mid 1960s, Corporate Software Products
- From late 1970s, Packaged mass-market software products
You can read an interesting exchange about the book here that reviews the book, criticizes it and gives Campbell-Kelly a chance to respond.
Bibliographic reference: Campbell-Kelly, M. (2003). From Airline Reservations to Sonic the Hedgehog: a History of the Software Industry. Cambridge, MA, MIT Press.