Ask HN: What’s the most important software in the world?

15 points | by reducesuffering 189 days ago

22 comments

  • GiorgioG 189 days ago

    The one running my son’s insulin pump.

    • sebst 188 days ago

      You're making the point here. It's the software that makes our lives significantly better, which is the most important one.

      However, as software is everywhere, the original question is the same thing as "what physical invention" is the most important one?

      From one standpoint this could be something like the wheel or electrical light, i.e. Bios, compiler or a network stack in the software world. Or, something way more personal, like health care related software for the loved ones or some more profane stuff.

      To make the question even less tangible, software in general can be replaced more easily than physical things, most of the time.

    • srirangr 189 days ago

      The most important software I've seen is Excel. Almost every new application I see is trying to replace excel in some domain or the other.

      • thiago_fm 189 days ago

        +1. And I think most of the software that try to replace it somehow fails.

      • heyjudy 189 days ago

        The Perl on nuclear warheads that aren't exploding.

        http://www.foo.be/docs/tpj/issues/vol2_1/tpj0201-0004.html

        • gtvwill 189 days ago

          *nix based operating systems.

          • AxisOfEval 189 days ago

            Leaving highly classified and for whom kinda questions aside, I must say it's the software that the good guys SWIFT (http://swift.com) use to run the global financial network.

            The SWIFT Network has no real alternatives and entire countries teeter towards bankruptcies when they're banned from using it.

            The last time the US banned Iran, Iran reportedly lost $100M; everyday!

            [Edit] Spellings and URL

            • jangid 189 days ago

              Probably that is why big economies are after crypto networks. Ripple is a close alternative for the SWIFT network.

              • tomjen3 189 days ago

                It sounds like software that important shouldn't be something that any particular country should be in control of (as much as I like to stop the leadership of Iran).

                • LiamPa 188 days ago

                  You have obviously never tried to decipher a swift message or been forced to read the ‘handbook’

                • tomjen3 189 days ago

                  The TCP/IP stack in the BSD everybody copied from around the time win 95 was being developed.

                  • uberman 189 days ago

                    Whatever "Operations Plan 8044" is supported by / implemented in:

                    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_weapons_of_the_United_...

                    • rolph 189 days ago

                      highly classified stuff, but in its day likely a FORTRAN implementation, the OPLAN is not simply a computer program but is a heuristic of human operations that is modified depending on current intelligence briefs, and asset deployment and distribution. The ARPANET [DARPANET] was a major part of this.

                    • kristianp 189 days ago

                      The relational database.

                      • rolph 189 days ago

                        in my opinion the most important software is actually firmware, that means the BIOS

                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BIOS

                        the successor UEFI im not so happy about but it can be tamed, it seems to be a binary blob thin edge of wedged between the firmware and the OS.

                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unified_Extensible_Firmware_In...

                        • scarface74 189 days ago

                          I’m not by any means an Android fan, but I have to admit that AOSP has done more to make computing accessible to almost everyone in the world than any other platform.

                          • sloaken 186 days ago

                            I had a teach who once was reviewing the history of computing. She explained how time sharing was invented in the 1960s. The ability for a computer to do more than one thing at a time, was a HUGE improvement.

                            • Adamantcheese 189 days ago

                              Any network protocol implementation.

                              • quickthrower2 189 days ago

                                I’d go for software running power stations. Without power we’re fucked.

                                • malux85 188 days ago

                                  The Linux kernel

                                  • type0 189 days ago

                                    For whom?

                                    • probinso 189 days ago

                                      In the future ,General task automation and artificial common sense

                                      • lexda15 189 days ago

                                        Online Banking

                                        • cimmanom 189 days ago

                                          Whatever sewage is running electronic voting machines and vote tabulators.

                                          • AnimalMuppet 189 days ago

                                            Web servers.

                                            • JunaidBhai 189 days ago

                                              Bios

                                              • notomorrow 189 days ago

                                                GIT

                                                • clanrebornsx 189 days ago

                                                  Facebook and gmail and Google search are the most important softwares.