Looking for a single source that covers the history of software quality assurance and testing stating what over time were the different approaches, and why practices have evolved the way they have over time.

3 Answers 3


Great starting point would be Wikipedia's history sections on the pages for Software Testing and Quality Assurance.

For example, the Wikipedia page for software testing cites an Association for Computing Machinery journal article by Gelperin and Hetzel (1988) titled, "The Growth of Software Testing" which list the following eras of software testing:

  • Until 1956 - Debugging oriented
  • 1957–1978 - Demonstration oriented
  • 1979–1982 - Destruction oriented
  • 1983–1987 - Evaluation oriented
  • 1988–2000 - Prevention oriented

You might also browse some of the books returned on Amazon by querying: "history of software testing and quality assurance".

  • +1 I've been doing ad-hoc software QA for more years than I'd like to recall, so no this isn't for a paper, or a book. Most of my experience has been driven by the task at hand and the related experiences/needs of those I was working with, and I've never taken a step back to attempt to gain a broader understanding of where the domain came from, where it is, and maybe even where it's likely to go in the near future. Thanks for your suggest, guess while I've always found wiki a good starting point, I've rarely found it to be the answer.
    – blunders
    Jan 26, 2012 at 20:06
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    I agree, but often the References in Wikipedia are worth more than the articles themselves. When doing research, it's a good place to start. Jan 26, 2012 at 20:17
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    I think I remember there being some testing techniques mentioned in "Mythical Man Month". Of course it is not a book on testing, but it talks about software development in general, and it qualifies as historical.
    – user246
    Jan 27, 2012 at 14:50

If you looking for experience and suggestions about testing I recommend for you check out some books on amazon (depend on experience which you are looking mostly). The fact is that all best testing approaches is not invented without knowledge and failures of past. So you do not need relearn all testing history to reinvent testing approach which cover your application needs. As QA your main goal is check software quality, catch bugs and if you good at this with ad-hoc testing style there are nothing to worry about. However if you need train new software testers I think best write them detailed Test Cases because tester experience gather when working with application. Personally I do not believe that books or articles with topic like "Millenium Quality Assurance Failures" could make tester work better with specific application.

  • You assume I just want to use what others have made... "The fact is that all best testing approaches is not invented without knowledge and failures of past." ...if only it were so easy, or that people always learned from, or truly understood the past; not saying I do, only that you assume others have.
    – blunders
    Jan 27, 2012 at 11:13
  • @blunders, they do not need "understood the past" because some of them live in that past and wrote books having 20+ years testing experience. I always say, real-live experience is far more better than any book. However if you looking for testing theory, book is good start. Jan 27, 2012 at 13:47
  • Learning is best experienced first hand, but to say learning from others is meaningless would be a huge leap, and likely mean 80%+ of what you know was a waste of time. Also, when you said, "book is good start" did you mean "books are good start", meaning books in general - or is there a book you had in mind? As for having "having 20+ years testing experience" in the end, "With a thousand eyes, all defects are shallow"; which is to say collective intelligence ultimately beats expert intelligence in the end.
    – blunders
    Jan 27, 2012 at 14:15
  • For example, I found what is in my opinion a major error in a "top rated" book just today (with the help of others), and I'm no expert on the subject either... :-)
    – blunders
    Jan 27, 2012 at 14:16
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    Dont want to sidetrack this discussion but as long as parties ar having a conversation the format of a user story does not matter. Having the conversation is the point. Now back to the discussion at hand - and I dont think you will find a One True Source. That book hasn't been written. A gap in the market ? Jan 27, 2012 at 23:31

Try this site ? http://www.testingreferences.com/testinghistory.php

  • +1 That's a great timeline, though there are a lot of randomly add items like "Apple Founded" - that appear to have nothing to do with the topic.
    – blunders
    Jan 26, 2012 at 20:46
  • @blunders, If you think that such big company like "Apple" founded is nothing to do with software quality assurance testing history then you are very wrong. Jan 27, 2012 at 14:05
  • @xeranas: Why stop there then, why not say Steve Jobs was born, or for that matter died. Saying Apple was founded has nothing to do with software quality assurance and testing history in my opinion, just like the butterfly effect has nothing to do with "real programming".
    – blunders
    Jan 27, 2012 at 14:38

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