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I'm aware of many version control systems: CVS, SVN, TFS etc...

I've googled for the very first "revision control/version control system" and seen various conflicting answers.

When was source control invented? Who invented it? What was it called?

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Starter for 10: SCCS "was originally developed ... in 1972" –  AakashM Jan 24 '13 at 17:17
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It was actually invented multiple times, but they kept losing the source code. –  Mathew Foscarini Jan 24 '13 at 20:15
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It depends on how you define "source control", but IBM's IEBUPDTE dates back to 1962, and it was arguably the earliest VCS. –  Ross Patterson Jan 25 '13 at 5:24
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If versioning file systems can be assimilated to revision control, this dates back to the 1960's. –  mouviciel Jan 25 '13 at 8:18

2 Answers 2

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Here is a pretty decent timeline of the major players in video form (no sound).

It suggests that SCCS was first, by a margin of about 9 years.

http://i.stack.imgur.com/wcAWD.png

There is a lot missing off there though, as evidenced by this blog and the resulting comments.

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The original paper on SCCS mentions no other systems, and seems to indicate that it had to come up with terminology itself. From that source alone it looks as if there was no version control system before 1972/73. –  Martijn Pieters Jan 24 '13 at 18:12
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Naming a source code control system "Source Code Control System" is indeed indication that it was the first instance of something that would become a software category later. –  Ingo Jan 24 '13 at 21:57

In 1981, I worked a summer job at Charter Information in Austin TX. They were formerly Commercial Information Corporation of Woburn MA. They ran a Xerox Sigma 6 that had been field-upgraded to a Sigma 7. They used a thing called SPUD (Source Program Update) for source code control. It was tape-based.

I routinely mounted the "bicentennial SPUD tape" and worked on a mod deck for a piece of code on that tape. It was called the "bicentennial SPUD tape" because it was written in 1976. They had older tapes, indicating that SPUD went back farther than 1976.

While a student at UT Austin (1973-1981), I ran up against MODIFY and UPDATE, two source code control programs from Control Data Corporation for the CDC 6600 and later mainframes. I do not know when they first came out, but I suspect they came out not long after the 6600, which (if memory serves me) came out in the late 1960s.

I suspect that IBM had something well before anyone else did, but I have no knowledge whatsoever of IBM mainframe history, and I like it that way.

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