The Needlessly Complex History of SaaS, Simplified

Benjamin Brandall
August 30, 2017

Look up the history of any modern technology, and you’re taken on a quick-fire tour of antiques, innovations, failures, successes, bubbles, booms, and busts.

Unlike the history of the Roman Empire or Greek poetry, software history is almost immeasurably short.

It’s rich and it’s exciting, but it’s also full of strange developments. Developments that never really went anywhere, but serve as warnings to organizations of the kinds of flops to avoid.

New terminology and seemingly revolutionary inventions have cropped up every single year since the 1960s, but by now most of what formed the foundations for today’s software market is obsolete.

The Department of Defense’s SaaS timeline is broad (and not particularly exciting-looking), but it gets the job done.

In today’s world, the majority of businesses and consumers use software-as-a-service (SaaS). If you define SaaS an application that can be accessed through a web browser and is managed and hosted by a third-party, then Facebook, Snapchat, Google — and many things that most people would just call ‘websites’ — are SaaS products.

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