Over the course of three decades, SAP has evolved from a small, regional enterprise into a world-class international company. Today, SAP is the global market leader in collaborative, inter-enterprise business solutions. The company now employs more than 39,300 people, whose commitment and innovative spirit pace our future success.

The 1970s: A Real-Time Vision

In 1972, five former IBM employees — Dietmar Hopp, Hans-Werner Hector, Hasso Plattner, Klaus Tschira, and Claus Wellenreuther — launch a company called Systems, Applications, and Products in Data Processing in Mannheim, Germany. Their vision: to develop standard application software for real-time business processing. One year later, the first financial accounting software is complete, forming the basis for the continuous development of other software components in what later came to be known as the “R/1 system.” “R” stands for real-time data processing. By the end of the decade, intensive examination of SAP’s IBM database and dialog control system leads to the birth of SAP R/2.

The 1980s: Rapid Growth

SAP moves into the company’s first building on Max-Planck-Strasse in an industrial park in Walldorf, near Heidelberg. Our software development area and its 50 terminals are all now under one roof. Fifty of the 100 largest German industrial firms are already SAP customers.The SAP R/2 system attains the high level of stability of the previous generation of programs. Keeping in mind its multinational customers, SAP designs SAP R/2 to handle different languages and currencies. With this and other innovations in SAP R/2, SAP sees rapid growth.By the middle of the decade, SAP founds its first sales organization outside Germany, in Austria. The company makes its first appearance at the CeBIT computer fair in Hanover, Germany. Revenues reach DM 100 million (around $52 million), earlier than expected.In August 1988, SAP GmbH becomes SAP AG. Starting on November 4, 1.2 million shares are listed on the Frankfurt and Stuttgart stock exchanges. Germany’s renowned business journal, manager magazine, names SAP its Company of the Year — a distinction we would receive twice more in the next few years.With the founding of subsidiaries in Denmark, Sweden, Italy, and the United States, SAP’s international expansion takes a leap forward.

The 1990s: A New Approach to Software and Solutions

SAP R/3 is unleashed on the market. The client-server concept, uniform appearance of graphical interfaces, consistent use of relational databases, and the ability to run on computers from different vendors meets with overwhelming approval. With SAP R/3, SAP ushers in a new generation of enterprise software — from mainframe computing to the three-tier architecture of database, application, and user interface. To this day, the client-server architecture is the standard in business software. A growing number of subsidiaries are managed out of Walldorf. The new Sales and Development Center in Walldorf officially opens it doors. It symbolizes the global success of the company. In our twentieth year, our business outside Germany exceeds 50 percent of total sales for the first time.By 1996, the company has earned 1,089 new SAP R/3 customers. At the end of the year, SAP R/3 has been installed in more than 9,000 systems worldwide.SAP celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary in 1997 and now employs approximately 12,900 people. We continue to strengthen our industry focus and build more and more industry-specific solutions. Henning Kagermann becomes Co-Chairman and CEO of SAP AG with Hasso Plattner. On August 3, 1998, the letters S-A-P appear for the first time on the Big Board at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), the largest stock exchange in the world. As the decade draws to a close, Hasso Plattner, Co-Founder, Co-Chairman, and CEO announces the mySAP.com strategy, heralding the beginning of a new direction for the company and our product portfolio. mySAP.com links e-commerce solutions to existing ERP applications, using state-of-the-art Web technology.

The 2000s: Innovation for the New Millennium

With the Internet, the user becomes the focus of software applications. SAP develops SAP Workplace and paves the way for the idea of an enterprise portal and role-specific access to information.Currently, more than 12 million users work each day with SAP solutions. There are now 121,000 installations worldwide, more than 1,500 SAP partners, over 25 industry-specific business solutions, and more than 41,200 customers in 120 countries. SAP is the world’s third-largest independent software vendor.