What is Software Engineering’s Greatest Achievement?

As I was trying to define engineering tonight; I was struck by this part in the Wikipedia article on the subject:

The Pharos of Alexandria, the pyramids in Egypt, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Acropolis and the Parthenon in Greece, the Roman aqueducts, Via Appia and the Colosseum, Teotihuacán and the cities and pyramids of the Mayan, Inca and Aztec Empires, the Great Wall of China, the Buddhist Stupa and Yoda Canal in Sri Lanka, among many others, stand as a testament to the ingenuity and skill of the ancient civil and military engineers.

What is software engineering’s great achievement that will be looked upon 500-1000 years from now with awe?  At first I thought the Internet, but that is really not all software engineering.  It’s mostly electrical and network engineering.  But, the World Wide Web is software!  And it runs on the Internet.  A little research brought up the initial proposal for the World Wide Web written by Sir Tim Berners-Lee and R. Cailliau.  It almost gives me goose bumps to read it.  He does a requirements analysis of the WWW for crying out loud.  His description of the architecture takes about five sentences!  But the best part, at least in terms of showing that the WWW is a result of software engineering, is that he asks for 4 software engineers and a programmer in his proposal!!!  Take a look at history in the making….


About Leonard Woody
Software Engineer

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