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The use of source control management tools is nowadays a standard practice in the software industry. Furthermore, it seems that there is quite a strong consensus (for deliverables) to have an instable branch where new features arrive and one or several stable branches where only bugfixes are added. I am interested into the history of the emergence and consolidation of these practices. Can anybody provide information about the following milestones?

  • When SCM was used for the first time in an organisation developing software?
  • When was released the first free-software SCM?
  • When was released the first SCM shipped by a software company?
  • When was given the first talk about SCM in a developer's meeting of international importance?
  • Which alternative schemes to the one unstable and one or more stable branches scheme are used today, by a significantly large community (e.g. a large company).

(Note that if a project uses topic branches, development happens in numerous branches, but none of them correspond to deliverables.)

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  • the "alternative schemes" part of your question is very broad - I've worked with all kinds of setups, several being quite unique to the company's needs and its processes. – gbjbaanb Dec 10 '13 at 16:45
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SCCS is one of the oldest ones, dating back to 1972. It has been introduced to early versions of Unix and is now part of the Single Unix Specification.

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  • +1 And still in use today – andy256 Dec 10 '13 at 14:27
  • But not used outside of Bell Labs until the commercial release of Unix System III in 1982? – paulkayuk Dec 10 '13 at 16:21
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The first free source management system was RCS developed by Walter F Tichy in 1982.

If you follow the references in his original 1982 paper, cited in the Wikipedia article, you will get answers to some of your other questions.

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