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SAP History

Building on a track record of innovation.

The SAP R/2 era

1981 – 1990

Real-time touches more of the business: The SAP R/2 packaged mainframe software application processes data when customers need it and integrates all of an enterprise’s business functions.



Next generation launches

SAP R/2 launches and quickly achieves the same high levels of stability as its predecessor.


SAP makes its first appearance at the “SYSTEMS” IT trade show in Munich, Germany.

Joint development

SAP works with customers to add a production planning and control module to its portfolio.



Reason to celebrate: SAP turns 10

10th anniversary

More than 250 companies in Austria, Germany, and Switzerland now deploy SAP software. Having outgrown its office space – again – the company constructs an extension in record time.

Revenues increase, workforce grows 

SAP generates DM24 million in revenue and hires its 100th employee. Some 96% of its customers use SAP software to manage their business processes.



Much-needed office space

SAP embarks on a third office extension project to accommodate its constant and growing stream of new recruits.

Key metrics

Employees number 125 by midyear; revenues jump to DM41 million by the end of the year.


German technology company Heraeus becomes the first customer to install SAP's new module for production planning and control (RM-PPS).



From Switzerland to the world

The Swiss town of Biel becomes home to SAP’s first international subsidiary, SAP (Schweiz AG), and to SAP (International) AG, the hub from which SAP conducts its international business.

Human resources

SAP hires 48 new employees, largely to meet its huge demand for development resources for the new modules RK (cost accounting), PPS (production planning and control), and RP (human resources).

In numbers 

SAP’s 163 employees generate revenues approaching DM48 million.



Tools for the job

SAP's data center is now equipped with four servers: three from IBM and one from Siemens. Employees developing and enhancing the company’s software have access to a total of 64MB of main memory.

International operations

Five employees from Walldorf move to the new office in Switzerland and begin supporting the company's international business. By the end of 1985, more than 250 people work at SAP, and revenues hit DM61 million.

Focus on quality

A quality assurance committee is set up to bolster the stability of SAP software.



In the limelight

SAP – and its software – exhibit at CeBIT, the world’s largest computer trade show, for the first time.

Revenue landmark

SAP hits the DM100 million revenue mark sooner than expected, as the introduction of new financial reporting standards brings in around 100 new orders for its asset accounting software.


Local presence increases

This year sees the opening of SAP’s second international subsidiary, in Austria, and of its first local office, in Ratingen, near Düsseldorf, to serve customers in Germany’s Rhine-Ruhr metropolitan region.


HR software

After three years in the making, SAP’s software for human resources management is released to customers.

Organizational changes

SAP raises its capital stock significantly, to DM5 million – an increase of DM4.5 million. With its workforce at 300, it introduces a new structure of organizational units led by department managers.



Under construction

SAP breaks ground on its new training center in Walldorf. Meanwhile, construction continues at the company’s main offices – now in the fifth phase of expansion.

Growing the customer base

IBM’s latest generation of servers makes SAP’s software available to SME customers. SAP establishes SAP Consulting to support new customers.


More international business

SAP makes its first forays into non-German-speaking markets, setting up subsidiaries in France, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom. Two new local offices open: one in Hamburg to support customers in northern Germany; and the second in Munich to serve those in the south of the country. By the end of the year, SAP has more than 500 employees and is generating DM152 million in revenue.

User conference

SAP holds its first software conference in Karlsruhe, Germany, providing a platform for current and potential users to share insight and experiences.

R/3 on the horizon

The drive for standardization in software production and the launch of the IBM Systems Application Architecture (SAA) provide the impetus for SAP to begin developing a new multiplatform-enabled generation of software: SAP R/3.



Transformation, going public

SAP becomes SAP AG, a publicly-traded company. In two increments, it increases its capital stock from DM5 million to DM60 million. In October 1988, it lists on the Frankfurt and Stuttgart exchanges, issuing 1.2 million bearer shares at DM750.


Image: SAP's first day at the German Stock Exchange: Hasso Plattner, co-Founder of SAP 


Ongoing expansion

SAP opens subsidiaries in Denmark, Italy, Sweden, and the United States. Entering the U.S. market will prove pivotal to the company’s long-term success.

Training center

Back in Walldorf, the company opens its International Training Center, which also houses a gym for employees – now numbering 940 and generating annual revenue of DM245 million.

Customer milestone

Dow Chemicals becomes SAP’s 1,000th customer. Meanwhile, SAP begins developing RIVA – a billing and administration system for utility companies.



Yet more computing power

SAP’s data center now houses servers from IBM, Siemens, DEC, and Hewlett-Packard, and provides 1,224MB of memory.

Easier to use

SAP launches a new, more user-friendly interface for SAP R/2, and new tools, such as the ABAP/4 programming environment.

International business

SAP (International) AG in Switzerland is now responsible for 12 international subsidiaries, including those in Asia (Singapore), Australia, and Canada. There are 1,400 employees operating in 15 countries and generating close to DM370 million in revenue.


Financial markets

In its first full year on the stock exchange, SAP is named “Company of the Year” by Germany’s manager magazin.

Investing in growth

SAP R/3 begins to take shape. It is designed to run on four UNIX systems from different vendors. SAP is now investing around DM85 million – some 33% of its revenue – in research and development alone.

SAP goes industry

The first SAP industry solution – for utilities – goes live at a pilot customer in Germany.



The next building goes up

Desperately short of office space, SAP invests DM135 million in the construction of a sales and development center, known initially as the “Entwicklungs- und Vertriebszentrum” (EVZ) – and now as “WDF01”. Its 1,700 employees generate revenues in excess of DM500 million.


Image: Groundbreaking ceremony: Albert Altenbach (building contractor), Willi Vorfelder (architect), Dietmar Hopp, A. Gruninger (structural engineer, from left)

Research and development

SAP AG increases its capital stock to DM85 million by issuing preferred shares. It plows DM110 million of these additional funds into advancing SAP R/2 and the new SAP R/3 System. Prototypes of the R/3 financial accounting (FI) and materials management (MM) modules are already complete.


SAP sharpens its focus on SMEs by taking a 50% stake in German software company Steeb and acquiring CAS.

Reunification and expansion

East and West Germany unite; their economies and currencies merge; and SAP expands eastward. Teaming up with Siemens Nixdorf and Robotron, it establishes a joint venture, SRS, in Dresden, and opens a local office in Berlin.

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