Collecting some info from my fading memories and files .... and Byte magazine helped greatly with its own selection of the most important early software from the standpoint of 1995.
Developed by the late Gary Kildall in 1974 CP/M was the first OS to run on machines from different vendors. It became the preferred OS for most software development and it looked like it would rule forever.
Written in 1979 by first-year Harvard Business School student Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston of MIT, VisiCalc was a godsend to Wall Street users who had bought the first microcomputers two years earlier. Running initially on the Apple II and nearly single-handedly creating the demand for the machine, VisiCalc established spreadsheets as a staple application.
While writing programs on the Altair, Michael Shrayer hit upon the idea of writing the manuals on the same machine. Electric Pencil was born, the first microcomputer word processor. But the first program to exploit the market potential was Seymour Rubinstein’s 1979 masterpiece, WordStar.
Wayne Ratliff’s creation, first intended to manage a company football pool, was the first serious database management system for CP/M. dBase II, in its DOS incarnation was a massive success. Ashton-Tate, which acquired dBase from Ratliff, began to lose the lead when it released the bug-ridden dBase IV in 1988.
Autodesk’s AutoCAD brought CAD from minis and mainframes down to the desktop, one of the first programs to make that now-common migration. AutoCAD quickly became - and remains - an industry standard.
VisiCalc may have sold Wall Street on the idea of electronic spreadsheets, but 1-2-3 was the spreadsheet that Main Street wanted, too. When the IBM PC and XT took over the world, Lotus’s simple but elegant grid was without question the top spreadsheet to run on them, adding graphics and data-retrieval functions to the paradigm.