Before becoming the software giant it is today, SAP was called SAP Systemanalyse und Programmentwicklung (System Analysis and Program Development). The German company was founded by five former IBM engineers Dietmar Hopp, Hasso Plattner, Klaus Tschira, Hans Werner-Hector, and Claus Wellenreuther, in 1972.
The group worked a project for a client of IBM who wanted enterprise-wide software to run on its mainframe. They were later told that the assignment would be given to another unit. Rather than abandoning the project, they decided to leave IBM to start their own tech company. Starting out on a shoestring budget with one customer and a handful of employees, SAP later on proved that it is set out on a path that would not only transform the world of information technology, but also innovate the way companies do business, forever.
SAP’s dream was to build software that processes data when customers ask it real-time rather than doing it overnight in batches. The company’s first commercial accounting system was launched in 1973. This system serves as the cornerstone in the ongoing development of other software modules of the system that will eventually bear the name SAP R/1. In 1976, the limited-liability company SAP GmbH Systeme, Anwendungen und Produkte in der Datenverarbeitung (“Systems, Applications, and Products in Data Processing”) is founded as a sales and support subsidiary. In 1979, an in-depth examination of IBM’s database and dialog control system caused SAP to rethink its software, paving way for SAP R/2. In the succeeding years, SAP released various products that helped revolutionize the way businesses operate.
Now, 45 years later, approximately 350,000 thousand customers stronger, and fueled by the pioneering spirit of its founders wanting to change the IT industry, SAP has become the leading provider of ERP software for enterprises and SMBs worldwide.