20 killer applications of IT

By : |January 16, 2008 0

C was a procedural, block structured programming language that was developed at Bell Telephone Labs in 1972. C programming provided a shift from assembly-level coding for applications to developing them in a human-readable form that would be compiled to machine-readable form for execution. It provided memory-access through ‘pointers’ and mapping of machine instructions, due to which it found varied usage from embedded microcontrollers to supercomputers. It became the base for other popular languages like C++ to be designed as an extension to C.


Electronic mail changed the literal meaning of a ‘mailbox’. It is no longer that red bulky metal box hanging outside your door, it is an application running on your desktop, laptop or even your mobile phone, which displays and stores text or visual messages from other email users. Technically, it stands for an Internet system based on Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) and the appropriate server address, which is unique to the workplace. Around mid-90s, Hotmail created waves by making email a ‘use it anywhere, anytime’ application and the best part, it was a free application. The trend still continues.

Enterprise Resource Planning

Manufacturing, supply chain management, HR, data warehousing-all of these need systems that can integrate all the data and processes of an organization into a unified system. A typical ERP system will use multiple components of computer software and hardware to achieve the integration. A key ingredient of most ERP systems is the use of a unified database to store data for the various system modules. Initially designed to plan the use of enterprise-wide resources, current use of the term ERP systems has much broader scope. ERP systems typically attempt to cover all basic functions of an organization, regardless of the organization’s business or charter.


This is one of the most impactful applications of today that anyone can think of. It provided easy to use graphical desktop compared to CUI (character user interface) based systems. Introduction of GUI in the computing world simplified the work as one need not to remember commands for getting their work done on PCs. GUI became popular with Windows and MAC OS which are the most commonly used operating systems today. GUI application is also incorporated into embedded devices, mobile phone, ATMs, etc.

IM (Instant Messaging)

Who is not aware of Yahoo messenger, MSN messenger, or lately GTalk. These are the names that come to your mind whenever IM is mentioned. IM saw its initial days way back in the 1970s mainly on multi-user operating system like UNIX to facilitate communication between users logged onto the same system. Soon it caught the attention of people and became the most popular means of real-time communication via Internet. The fact that you know the presence of the person immediately as he logs in and they could interact in real-time accounted toward its instant popularity.


IP Telephony
Also called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Internet telephony, Broadband telephony, Broadband Phone and Voice over Broadband, IP Telephony represents the routing of voice conversations over the Internet. The biggest reason for the popularity of IP Telephony is the fact that it allows ‘free calls’, irrespective of the distance between the callers. As licensing battles still continues, IP telephony is being increasingly used to integrate voice, videos, and for video conferencing.


Sun Microsystems in 1995 released a programming language named Java, which was based on C and C++ syntaxes, but had a simpler object model. Java promised ‘write-once, run anywhere’ with its ability to make apps portable and platform-independent. So you just had to write a generic code that will work on any machine having its own Java-run-time without having to change the source-code. This platform-independence capability proved to be a boon as computers connected to Internet were on different platforms and Java based apps could cater to all. All operating systems started coming with Java run-time environment installed. It not only revolutionized the way the web pages look today, but has also become a primary language for embedded system devices.


It is a kernel for operating systems designed for desktop as well as servers. Being an open source application, it can be used modified and distributed by anyone. This app helped everyone in understanding how a kernel system actually works. The first Linux kernel was released on 17th September, 1991, which is now included in each Linux OS such as Fedora, SUSE, Ubuntu, etc. Earlier Linux was used mostly at server level and not at the desktop level, but in the recent past we have seen different Linux distros, basically the ones from RedHat (Fedora) and Novell (openSUSE) which are well suited for the desktop environment.

P2P Apps

Not many people are aware of the fact that P2P is as old as USENET, but it was Napster who revolutionized P2P. In 1999, when Shawn Fanning launched Napster, it was an instant hit and by Feb 2001 it had at least 50 million users when it closed, all thanks to lawsuits from RIAA and other music groups. But P2P apps didn’t stop there, and then it was Kaaza’s turn, and now Limewire and Bittorrent that has made P2P a part of our lives. While P2P lets users share their files over Internet, it has badly affected the music industry.


In December 1983, when Mike Muuss wrote a program about troubleshooting an IP network, which he named Ping, he wouldn’t have thought how much impact this small utility is going to make. Now, whenever something is wrong with network connectivity, the very first thing that everyone does is ping. The ICMP support was later on added to Ping by Phil Dykstra.


PXE (Preboot eXecution Environment) was initially introduced by Intel as part of the Wired for Management framework. It uses protocols like IP, DHVP and GUID, and Universal Network Device Interface. PXE opened new possibilities of remotely booting a network system, launching setups on servers, etc. Similar to PXE was RPL (Remote Initial Program Load) which uses Novell Netware boot method for remote booting.


Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) was a DBMS that maintained the relationship between the data stored in the tables of the database. This system was invented by E.F.Codd and followed a set of 12 rules. This system maintained the referential integrity of data by preserving the relationships between tables, so that effect on one table set could be reflected to other related tables also. This type of database management system was appropriate for large organizational data, where relationship between data tables was crucial to manage. Various DBMS vendors adopted this system to provide RDBMS solutions like Microsoft, Oracle and IBM who became the major players in this arena.

Search Engine

Since its arrival, search engine has revolutionized the way we browse Internet. Millions of people use it every day on a regular basis making it one of the hottest applications of all times. Think about life without Google now, or for that matter, had the first ever search engine (Archie) didn’t saw day of light in the 1990’s, Internet might have not been what it is. It gained popularity in the mid 90s, when several search engines were developed with one following the other. The Archies was followed by Veronica, and then came the Jughead and so on. What completely captivated the search engine market was the arrival of Google.


Short Messaging Service, was defined as the part of the GSM series standard in 1985 as the means of sending text to and from GSM mobile handsets. When it was conceptualized, no one thought that it will be used for sending text messages. In fact the first text message was send as late as 1992. Soon it became a popular means of communication and gave cell phone a different dimension altogether. Initially it took time to start off with very few people using the facility, as the service providers weren’t clear about the charging system. But by the early 2000 it became one of the most used application in a cell phone.


Back in the days when the primary use of computers was to process payrolls and financial records, spreadsheets were conceptualized to maintain electronic records of financial transactions, reduce the burden of using calculators, and in turn overcoming possible human error. Two individuals, Rene K. Pardo and Remy Landau, in 1971, filed a US patent for the ‘electronic spreadsheet’, which finally took form of  Lotus 1-2-3, Borland Quattro, and has today morphed into Microsoft Excel and numerous other open source clones. Today, it is the preferred medium for storing everything from transaction details, catalogues to any form of organized data.


Virtualization Apps
Virtualization has been around since 1960. Initially, it was started for mainframe computers in order to utilize their resources to the optimum level because under normal conditions the hardware utilization was not more than 40%. Due to its benefits like cost, power and space savings virtualization application became increasingly popular among organizations. Virtualization has come a long way with different virtualization techniques organizations deploy as server , application, OS, storage virtualization, etc Virtualization apps has also paved way for Portable workspaces.

Visual Basic

Visual Basic (VB) is a third-generation, event driven programming language from Microsoft. It was derived from the classic BASIC language and its claim to fame was its ability to create complex GUI applications and flowing out of a better and user friendly platform, where drag and drop applications were available for forms, interfaces and other operations. It spoon-fed BASIC programmers and gave them an all new stage for creating NET-enabled applications and programs.

Web Browser

Mosaic was the first GUI Web browser released in 1993 that changed the way Internet surfing is done. Earlier there were just text-based browsers that couldn’t open http://www.pcquest.com/2007/images//, which was not the case with Mosaic that rendered http://www.pcquest.com/2007/images// embedded with text. The graphical Web browsers with their ease of usage made Internet’s pool of information available to a much larger public domain that was earlier just restricted to researchers. The coming years saw the GUI browsers being launched by Microsoft and Netscape and then came the Firefox. Web browsers attributed to the popularity of Internet during mid nineties.

Web Server

The Internet is said to have created a new ecosystem of individuals who are democratic in nature-and the powerhouse of this ecosystem is the Web server. The computer program that is responsible for accepting HTTP requests from clients otherwise known as Web browsers, and serving them HTTP responses along with optional data contents in the form of webpages such as HTML documents that include http://www.pcquest.com/2007/images//, sound etc. This ‘powerhouse’ is rapidly shrinking in size but growing in functionality and power.


Wiki gave a platform for both Intranet and Internet to host websites that allowed its users to enter data, information as well as facts, and for that they needn’t to have Web development skills. Ward Cunningham started developing Web Wiki and installed it on Internet Domain c2.com on March 25, 1995, and named it WikiWikiWeb. Since then it has gained popularity and has become one of the most downloaded application. Wikipedia is one of the best and most popular examples of a website running on Wiki.

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