A Brief Journey to Software Testing History or How Things Were Before Agile

Wonders of time

Traveling through time to the past is something that should have been discovered centuries ago as it may be the most useful tool of mankind. If all the time-travelling science fiction with temporal paradoxes and other blah-blah left aside humanity would gain an enormous well of knowledge with such time-travel technologies. You know what they say, one has to learn on mistakes. But what about learning from the very first mistake? Or the first actual achievement? Imagine the possibilities.

Was software testing really born after agile?

Unfortunately all we have as for now is history text books and other available literature. So we have to work with what we have. In the context of software testing we don’t need to travel far back in time. But most of the available resources are leading to the agile manifesto. Was there no software testing before that? Or is there nothing we, as testers may learn from? Rubbish.

I’m afraid I will be leaving the fun part of looking around, googling and discovering more to you hence that’s where all the actual fun is located. But I will give you a clear guideline of the most important events in software testing history though, so you are sure where to look for.

Events that really matter!

  • Its 1958, the air is still not polluted and Elvis is at his best. But in some other place there is a team of thinkers calling themselves project Mercury Test Team. Those brave men, led by Jerry Weinberg were history’s first fully independent test team.
  • 1960’s and the first star trackers struggling over learning to speak Klingon are all over the place. The Beatles are making that terrible cacophony sound lovely. And our old friend Jerry Weinberg along with Herbert Leeds are doing amazing work. Jerry published PL/1 programming when Herbert introduces the triangle problem to wide audience for the first time.
  • 1970’s.And a lot of great discoveries are made. Time sharing systems are introduced. Glenford Myers publishes his “the art of software testing”. Function to unit is being implemented so are error guessing, class equivalence, cause/effect graphing and other methodologies.
  • The eighties. Here come test cases. Any software may be and is expressed as a directed graph. V-model systems are introduced, integration and unit tests are used and some major cool stuff is going on in the Silicon Valley.
  • 1990-ies. Now the big guns are emerging along with extreme Programming, TDD and stuff. Acceptance tests are customer-driven. Rapid and exploratory software testing are taking a peek out of their shadow. F.R.I.E.N.D.S. TV show is on everybody’s screens. People are starting to panic over the millennium fuss, man relies on automation more, and performance as well as web testing begin their journey to glory.
  • The rest, as you know, is history of quality assurance and quality control.

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