The great works of software

As with any list, there will be much disagreement on what was included and left off the list. That aside, I found this to be a thoughtful read.

As far as I can tell, no truly huge world-shifting software product has ever existed in only one version (even Flappy Bird had updates). Just about every global software product of longevity grows, changes, adapts, and reacts to other software over time.

So I set myself the task of picking five great works of software. The criteria were simple: How long had it been around? Did people directly interact with it every day? Did people use it to do something meaningful? I came up with the office suite Microsoft Office, the image editor Photoshop, the videogame Pac-Man, the operating system Unix, and the text editor Emacs.

I would have placed Unix at #1, the original Mac OS at #2, Mac OS X at #3, and iOS at #4. But hey, that’s just me.



  • taitaisanchez

    Emacs gets on that list but not VIM?

    At least Bill Joy doesn’t eat his own foot fungus.

  • Brian Mauter

    Emacs is a great operating system, lacking only a decent editor. #vi4life

  • JohnDoey

    Logic — it goes back to 1988, when it was called Notator, then Notator Logic, then Logic. It defined music production software for the Mac era. Logic was probably used to write 25% or more of your favorite songs. And Logic provided the core technology for GarageBand, which is basically “Logic for everyone” — the iOS version is the best anywhere songwriting studio. Today, GarageBand is the most popular amateur/lightweight music production software, and Logic is the most popular pro music production software. And Logic is a truly epic app — it has forgotten more about music than most people will ever know.

  • Daniel

    Clearly the author has failed to notice this minor thing known as the Internet. It’s not like millions of people went out and bought personal computers just to run a web browser or anything. Or that the original mass-market web browser (aka Netscape) lives on as Firefox.

  • satcomer

    During the Pac-Man section the author forgot the song “Pac-Man Fever”.