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Software Designers

History

"In 1983, software development exploded with the introduction of the personal computer. Standard applications included not only spreadsheets and word processors, but graphics packages and communications systems," according to Events in the History of Computing, compiled by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Computer Society.

Advances in computer technology have enabled professionals to put computers to work in a range of activities once thought impossible. Computer software designers have been able to take advantage of computer hardware improvements in speed, memory capacity, reliability, and accuracy to create programs to do almost anything. With the extensive proliferation of computers in our society, there is a great market for user-friendly, imaginative, and high-performance software. Business and industry rely heavily on the power of computers and use both prepackaged software and software that has been custom-designed for their own specific use. Also, with more people purchasing computer systems for home use, the retail market for prepackaged software has grown steadily. Given these conditions, computer software designing will be an important field in the industry for years to come.

The software industry has many facets, including packaged applications for personal computers (known as "shrink-wrapped software"); operating systems for stand-alone and networked systems; management tools for networks; enterprise software that enables efficient management of large corporations' production, sales, and information systems; software applications and operating systems for mainframe computers; and customized software for specific industry management.

Packaged software is written for mass distribution, not for the specific needs of a particular user. Broad categories include operating systems, utilities, applications, and programming languages. Operating systems control the basic functions of a computer or network. Utilities perform support functions, such as backup or virus protection. Programming software is used to develop the sets of instructions that build all other types of software. The software familiar to most computer users is called application software. This category includes word-processing, spreadsheets, and e-mail packages, commonly used in business, as well as games and reference software used in homes, and subject- or skill-based software used in schools.

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