1972-1981: the early years

Building on the dream of “real-time” computing: Software that processes data when customers ask it to – rather than overnight in batches.

1972-1981: Highlights

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  • 1972

    Foundation: Five former IBM employees start a company they call SAP Systemanalyse und Programmentwicklung ("System Analysis and Program Development").
    Vision: Standard application software for real-time data processing is developed.
    Associations: Taking the initial form of a private partnership under the German Civil Code, the company establishes its headquarters in Weinheim, Germany, and opens an office in nearby Mannheim. However, SAP's five founders spend most of their time in the data centers of their first customers, which include the German branch of Imperial Chemical Industries in Östringen.
    Night owls: Development of the fledgling company's first programs takes place mainly at night and on weekends.
    Initial success: At the end of its first year in business, SAP employs nine people and generates DM 620,000 in revenue.

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  • 1973

    Modularity: SAP completes its first financial accounting system – RF. 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.
    New customers: More clients in southwest Germany are running SAP software, including the tobacco company Rothändle in Lahr and the pharmaceutical firm Knoll in Ludwigshafen. Meanwhile, SAP itself is using IBM servers and the DOS operating system.

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  • 1974

    Flexible: SAP demonstrates its flexibility for the first time, converting its RF system from the DOS operating system to OS over an eight-week period.
    Customer base: Still just two and a half years in existence, SAP has a list of 40 reference customers.

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  • 1975

    Integration: Companies can now handle their purchasing, inventory management, and invoice verification with SAP's RM system.
    Trademark: An SAP trademark begins to emerge – the integration of all of the company's applications. Materials management data flows directly into financial accounting on a value basis, while invoice verification and posting can be completed in one step.

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  • 1976

    Legal transition: 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. Five years later, the private partnership is dissolved and its rights are passed on to SAP GmbH.
    Continued business success: SAP and its 25 employees generate DM 3.81 million in revenue.

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  • 1977

    Relocation: SAP moves its headquarters from Weinheim to nearby Walldorf.
    First steps abroad: The company begins installing its system for customers outside of Germany for the first time. Two companies in Austria decide to implement SAP software.
    Sales: SAP's reorganization strengthens its active sales.

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  • 1978

    Branching out: SAP completes the module Asset Accounting and a corresponding implementation project at a pilot company.
    SAP parle français: The farm equipment manufacturer John Deere demonstrates SAP's international viability by developing a French-language version of the company's accounting software in an in-house project.

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  • 1979

    Centralization: SAP begins operations on its own server, Siemens 7738, for the first time. Up until this point, its employees' development activities have been distributed across the data centers of regional customers such as ICI, Thermal, Knoll, Grünzweig+Hartmann, and Freudenberg.
    A home of its own: SAP's first data center is still located in leased space, but the company has already broken ground on the initial construction of its own facility.
    Technological shift: An in-depth examination of IBM's database and dialog control system causes SAP to rethink its software, paving the way for SAP R/2.

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  • 1980

    Consolidation: SAP moves into its first facility on Max-Planck-Strasse in the Walldorf industrial park. Its development area – now 50 computer screens strong – is finally unified under one roof.
    Upgrade: SAP augments its data-processing infrastructure by pairing its existing Siemens 7738 with an IBM/370-148, which the company then replaces in the same year with a more powerful IBM 4341. This model boasts 4MB of memory.
    Further expansion: SAP expands its product portfolio with RV, a custom development for sales and distribution.

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  • 1981

    Debut: SAP makes its first event appearance at the IT trade show Systems in Munich, Germany.
    Stabile: SAP R/2 achieves high level of stability.
    Performance driving sales: The growing power of mainframe servers is enabling SAP to expand its customer base to approximately 200 companies.
    Joint development: With the help of its customers, SAP expands its range of products with a production management module.

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