software engineering

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First attested in 1965 in service listings (in “systems software engineering”),[1] partly popularized by American computer scientists Anthony Oettinger and Margaret Hamilton later in the decade. In a 1966 letter to the members of the Association for Computing Machinery, listed by the Oxford English Dictionary as the term’s first attestation,[2] Oettinger wrote, “We must recognize ourselves [] as members of an engineering profession, be it hardware engineering or software engineering []”.[3]


software engineering (uncountable)

  1. The subfield of engineering concerned with applying a systematic, disciplined, quantifiable approach to the development, operation, and maintenance of software.

Related terms[edit]



  1. ^ “Products and Services”, in Computers and Automation, June 1965, page 44
  2. ^ software engineering, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, launched 2000.
  3. ^ Oettinger, A. G. (August 1966), “President's Letter to the ACM Membership”, in Communications of the ACM, volume 9, issue 8, →DOI, page 546

Further reading[edit]

  • Pierre Bourque and Robert Dupuis, editors (February 6, 2004) Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge - 2004 Version[1], →ISBN