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Comparison of electrical “engineering” of Heaviside's times and software “engineering” of our times

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1 Author(s)
Baber, R.L. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci., Univ. of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

In previous centuries, several technical fields that are now engineering disciplines exhibited problems analogous to those frequently observed in software development today. This paper presents selected examples of experiences from some of those fields, especially electrical telegraphy and telephony during the second half of the 19th and the early 20th centuries, and compares them with difficulties, major mistakes, and so on, arising in software development today. It is the thesis of this paper that software development today is in a pre-engineering phase, analogous in many respects to the pre-engineering phases of the now traditional engineering disciplines. From observations regarding similarities between experiences in those fields in the past and software development today, questions are raised regarding lessons that software developers might learn from those earlier experiences of others-in particular, from the solutions they found to their problems. Some answers are suggested

Published in:

Annals of the History of Computing, IEEE  (Volume:19 ,  Issue: 4 )