Martin Goetz, recipient of the first software patent, logs off at 93

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Obituary Martin Goetz, regarded by galore arsenic nan "father of third-party software," has died astatine nan property of 93.

An inductee into nan Mainframe Hall of Fame – an institution devoted to honoring individuals instrumental successful IBM's 1960s mainframe occurrence – Goetz was notable for receiving nan first package patent, awarded successful 1968, for his sorting strategy program.

Until then, nan lines betwixt package and hardware tended to blur, pinch package usually tweaked for a circumstantial customer's needs and bundled pinch hardware. Goetz and nan institution he founded – Applied Data Research (ADR) – played a pivotal domiciled successful defining package arsenic a merchandise successful its ain right. As such, it would autumn nether intelligence spot laws.

Goetz's patent was for a information sorting algorithm that he reckoned could beryllium patented. Sorting has ever been captious successful computing, but backmost successful nan days of magnetic portion getting information written successful nan astir businesslike measurement imaginable was critical, since doing truthful could trim nan number of read-and-write operations.

Fewer read-write operations meant little spooling and faster operations.

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Goetz revenge his patent exertion successful 1965, which was granted successful 1968 and arguably started nan package manufacture arsenic it is understood today.

Another measurement toward nan creation of a standalone package marketplace was taken successful 1969 erstwhile ADR sued IBM [PDF] for alleged monopolistic practices regarding ADR's Autoflow exertion – a instrumentality for producing flowcharts to archive code. Regarded by galore arsenic nan first clip a package programme was sold arsenic a standalone product, nan exertion struggled against IBM's Flowcharter – which arguably lacked features but was free.

The consequence of nan suit was an unbundling of strategy package by IBM – pinch nan objection of operating systems – from nan company's hardware.

Of nan action, Goetz said: "In August 1970, ADR settled its antitrust suit pinch IBM pinch an out-of-court colony of $2 million. The struggle was worthy it. We were good connected our measurement to success."

ADR became a ample package vendor earlier yet being acquired by Ameritech – amended known now arsenic AT&T – successful 1986. It was past sold connected to Computer Associates successful 1988.

While immoderate successful nan package manufacture coming mightiness respect patents arsenic somewhat burdensome, nan actions of Goetz were much of liberation – nan liberation of package improvement from an anti-competitive hardware industry. ®