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Recently I heard someone say they built a "SaaS" application. At first I thought "this guy knows something new", and I figured SaaS was some hyped enterprise framework or design pattern, but after looking up the SaaS Wikipedia page I realized it's similar in meaning to "web app".

What is the origin of the phrase "SaaS"? When was it first used?

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According to http://it.toolbox.com/wiki/index.php/SaaS:

The term "SaaS" was coined by John Koenig for the SDForum Software as a Service Conference in March of 2005 and has become the industry adopted reference term, generally replacing the earlier terms "On-Demand" and "ASP" (Application Service Provider).

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Wow, so many new phrases to add to my resume. I will be very popular with HR departments. –  Buttons840 Nov 1 '12 at 17:05
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The term replaces Application Service Provider and can be found in documents dating back to at least early 2001.

Software as a Service (SaaS), commonly referred to as the Application Service Provider (ASP) model, is heralded by many as the new wave in application software distribution. Following the maxim that “the Internet changes everything,” many believe that traditional packaged desktop and enterprise applications will soon be swept away by the tide of Web-based, outsourced products and services that remove the responsibility for installation, maintenance and upgrades from over-burdened MIS staff. Some analysts and industry members believe that packaged software, as a separate entity will cease to exist. While such drastic predictions have not yet happened, due to technical and business issues, the spirit of this change – the delivery, management and payment of software as a service rather than a product – is affecting all participants in the software industry

It appears that the term was non-existent or not widely used before that point. An article from April of 2000 uses ASP.

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