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‘Software engineering’ was a joke until the mission to the Moon made it the future

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This is the 14th in an exclusive series of 50 articles, one published each day until July 20, exploring the 50th anniversary of the first-ever Moon landing. You can check out 50 Days to the Moon here every day.

As internet pioneer and venture capitalist Marc Andreessen wrote in 2011, software is eating the world.

But that wasn’t true during the race to the Moon in the 1960s.

Just the opposite: Software was so new as an idea that the spelling hadn’t even been settled.

Sometimes it was “software,” but just as often, it was “softwear.”

The words “software” and “softwear” were used interchangably in newspaper stories, in headlines, and in advertisements for jobs from such well-established computer companies as Control Data Corporation. The headline of a large advertisement in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch from Control Data Corp., on November 4, 1965, read, “Computer Softwear Professionals,” and went on to list openings in four categories of jobs, including “Softwear Documentation.”

Honeywell, the Minneapolis Star reported on March 7, 1962, had “new softwear under development (that) includes an optical scanner, which can read information for the computer, and a data phone system for communicating with computers.”

“Softwear’s Her Forte,” was the headline on the profile of a female programmer in the Davenport, Iowa, newspaper, the Quad-City Times, on May........

© Fast Company