Computer software is a set of instructions a computer understands and executes to perform a specific operation/set of operations. Any script, program or application running on a computer is software. Any physical component of a computer is hardware. It is software that allows you to interact with your computer. It is software that allows you to operate your computer and all the devices attached to your computer.

As the majority of computer historians claim and most of us know, Ada Lovelace developed the very first computer program. The fact is that it was the father of the computer, Charles Babbage who wrote the very first computer program in 1836. He wrote 24 simple and error prone programs for his theoretical machines. Ada wrote a complex program that could have calculated a sequence of Bernoulli numbers if run on Charles’s Analytical Engine. Charles’ Analytical Engine was never built. However, Ada’s code is recognized as the first computer program and she is known as the first computer programmer. This English mathematician recognized that the machine was capable of handling more than just calculations. However, she dismissed artificial intelligence.

As the majority of computer historians claim and most of us know, Ada Lovelace developed the very first computer program. The fact is that it was the father of the computer, Charles Babbage who wrote the very first computer program in 1836. He wrote 24 simple and error prone programs for his theoretical machines. Ada wrote a complex program that could have calculated a sequence of Bernoulli numbers if run on Charles’s Analytical Engine. Charles’ Analytical Engine was never built. However, Ada’s code is recognized as the first computer program and she is known as the first computer programmer. This English mathematician recognized that the machine was capable of handling more than just calculations. However, she dismissed artificial intelligence.

While it was Alan Turing who proposed the theory of software, mathematician and statistician John Tukey coined the term software. Now as you know what is software, let’s see different types of software.

  • System software
  • Application software
  • Programming software

System Software

System software is a platform allowing you to run other application software on your computer. System software serves the purpose of an interface between the user application and computer hardware. See the following diagram.

Application Software (Productivity Software, Browsers, Music Players, Video Players, Database and all other apps created to perform some specific purposes for you)
System Software (BIOS, Boot Program, Device Drivers, Assembler and Utilities)
Hardware (CPU, Input Devices and Output Devices)

Operating system is an example of system software. It is this system software that allows you to manage and run other applications on your computer. Some of the examples of system software are BIOS (Basic Input/Output System), boot program, assembler, device driver, and system utilities such as debuggers, compilers, System Restore and more.

Application Software

Application software is specially designed to serve a specific purpose for the end user/users. These programs serve some business, educational and personal functions. You can find a wide range of software applications related to education, communication, creativity and productivity. Application software is developed to support businesses with a variety of functions such as manipulating data, managing information, calculations, coordinating resources, constructing visuals and a lot more. Following are the different types of application software:

  • Word Processing Software (MS Office, Notepad, WordPad and other applications used for creating and editing documents)
  • Database software (MS Access, Oracle and other database management systems for organizing data and performing database operations such as creating, retrieving, modifying and deleting records) 
  • Spreadsheet software (Apple Numbers, Excel, Lotus 1-2-3 and other applications used for performing calculations and maintaining records using spreadsheets)
  • Multimedia software (Windows Media Player, VLC Media Player, video converters, audio converters, audio players, video players and other software applications for playing and managing audio and video files)
  • Presentation software (Microsoft PowerPoint and other applications used for creating presentations containing slides for displaying some information. You can add text and graphics to these slides)
  • Enterprise software (Customer relationship management and other applications used by organizations for managing and processing data by performing some database transactions using an interface)
  • Information Worker Software (software applications used by individuals and within a department for creating and managing information. This type of application software includes personal management tools, documentation tools, resource management tools and more)
  • Educational software (Matlab, NASA World Wind, Google Earth, Dictionaries like Encarta and Britannica and other educational software applications used for self-learning and teaching. Some of the educational software applications run tests and track your progress)
  • Stimulation software (Advanced Simulation Library, Scientific simulators, flight simulators and there are many other stimulation software applications used for training, education and other purposes)
  • Content Access Software (Web Browsers, media players and other applications used for accessing content without editing)
  • Application Suites (Microsoft Office, OpenOffice and other similar applications containing a set of tools/applications for serving a set of similar purposes)

Programming Software

It is software/set of tools used by programmers for the development of application software and system software. Compiler, interpreter, debugger and assembler are some of the examples of programming software. An integrated development environment provides a software developer with a complete set of tools used for software development.

Hope that now you know what is software and what are different types of software. In case you have a question, drop it in the comment section.

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