The History of Apps


“App” – a three letter abbreviation we all are familiar with. But what is an app? In “Rancho’s” language it would mean “computer programs that can simply our work and help us communicate to each other”. And in “Chatur’s” language it would mean “Software programs which are built in various languages such as Java, Android, C, C++,, C# etc and interact with operating system of your computers, Smartphone and tablets to provide an astonishing interface that could be used for multiple purposes are called apps.” From our morning’s first alarm to the late night’s “good night” message, we use app – but what are they?

The History of Apps

History of Apps

Let’s head back to 1984, when Apple’s first Macintosh computer with GUI or Graphical User Interface was released. GUI served as one the biggest developments ever made in computer history. It allowed users to see the icons as real objects on the screen. No one would have loved computers if they demanded lines of codes for performing a task. It was undoubtedly, a fascinating technology but GUI’s weren’t everything. Developing a program that could solve problems was the need.

Soon after, the first usable application, spreadsheet software was launched. The press described it as the “Killer App”. It was because of this “Killer App” that Apple started becoming famous and Macintosh began to sell in volume. With the use of C, C++ and Objective C, the engineers at Apple started writing more such programs. Programs were the set of codes, and what those codes converged to was named as an application.

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To make the word sound more interesting, Apple decided to trim it to a three letter word “app” which meant “widgets of code”. In 1991, Oak, a user friendly language for interactive television was developed. After being tested it was reckoned as the advanced language for television with cables. In 1995, Sun Microsystems added features to Oak and renamed it “Java”. Java became the first language that could be executed on any platform. The developers named this feature “WORA” which stands for “Write Once Run Anywhere”. With the coming of Internet in 1990’s, web browsers such as Safari and internet explorer were developed in Java.

The core idea to use Java was because of its high performance, dynamic nature and security. Soon mobile phones with java programs started evolving. The infamous snake game, phonebook, messaging app were of its earliest success. Calling and sending texts through mobile phones started gaining popularity all over the world. The small inbuilt applications like calculators, calendars, and ring tones were became the major attraction. The beginning of the twentieth century saw a rapid market evolution of mobile applications.

What could have been better than providing internet on phone? As the demand for features increased, developments in the existing languages were made and new languages started coming up. In 2000, Symbian became the first mobile operating system with the launch of Ericson R380. New Brands of mobile phones were making their way to market and the old technology was getting perished. Now, it was a matter of efficiency and not calling or messaging.

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The name on each mobile user’s tongue was Nokia until Apple launched its first iPhone in 2007. The iPhone was built on iOS (Apple’s own operating System) and became a huge hit within days. The phone was fast, robust, got connected to internet within seconds and most of all, was entirely touch screen. The feature flabbergasted everyone all around the world. And like nothing in this world is perfect, Apple was no exception. Though it came up with hundreds of new features and applications, it was very expensive.

The History of Apps

The other companies gained advantage and started developing cheaper phones with the same functionality and applications. In 2007, 86 electronics and computer hardware companies came together and formed Open Handset Alliance (OHA). In 2008, the first android phone, HTC Dream was launched. It didn’t take Android much long to conquer the mobile market.

Apps like 3D car racing, EA mobile cricket and browsers for internet dominated the minds of users. With the introduction of services such as Play Store, Google Search, Google Play Services and Google Music, android overtook Apple and became the largest installed base worldwide on smart phones.

In November 2011, Android’s global market share in smartphones rose to 52.5%. Social networking apps like mobile facebook and whatsapp have become a huge success. The use of PC’s is declining as smartphone’s apps are proving to be more efficient and versatile. Mobile companies are taking on each other for latest apps, designs and sleekness. The open Source Android platform now owns 85% market share in smartphones. Do write us back about your queries and opinions. And for knowing more such interesting histories behind the world’s greatest developments subscribe to our newsletter.

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Rahul Hirani

Author at Technary
Very passionate about reading, writing and developing software. Enjoy learning about new technologies. Love traveling to new places and meeting strangers. Currently, pursuing B.Tech in Computer Science stream.


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