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Sep 25, 2007

A Brief History of ITIL

I have looked arround the web a little and was bored with the general ITIL history articles found on the web. There are a few inconsistencies and interesting myths circling around, like the one on the Falklands war and possible general war threat with Argentina, which are denied by the authors of V1.
The fact that Mrs. Thatcher came to power in 1979. and that ICT budget of UK government exceeded 8 bil. UK pounds was probably one of initiators of GITMM (or GITIMM, not sure).

So, here is a short list of important milestones:
History of ITIL Timeline
1972: IBM starts research on quality service delivery called Information Systems Management Architecture (ISMA).

1980: IBM publishes Volume I of the IBM Management series titled "A management System for the Information Business", first public edition of ISMA.

1986: CCTA authorizes a program to develop a common set of operational guidance with the objective of increasing efficiencies in Government IT.

1988: "Government Infrastructure Management Method (GITMM)", is formalized and issued as 'guidelines' for Government IT operations in the UK focused on Service Level Management. Same year, the development team was expanded and work continued on Cost, Capacity, and Availability.

1989: GITMM title is inadequate. It is not a method, (last M), and it should lose its G letter in order to be marketable out of government. Renamed to ITIL.

1989: First 'ITIL' book published, Service Level Management, then Help Desk (incorporating the concepts of Incident Management), Contingency Planning, and Change Management. Books had 50-70 pages.

1990: Problem Management, Configuration Management and Cost Management for IT Services published.

1991: Published - Software Control & Distribution, on 89 pages.

1992: Availability Management, 69 pages.

1996: (July) First ITIL Service Manager class delivered in US by US company, ITSMI, 16 attended, 10 candidates, nine passes, one distinction, first US company authorized as an ITIL accredited course provider - ITSMI.

1997: Customer focused update to the Service Level Management book, 106 pages.

1997: ITIMF legally becomes what we know today as the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF UK).

2000: Service Support V2 published, 306 pages.

2001: Service Delivery V2 published, 376 pages.

2001: CCTA became a part of the Office of Government Commerce (OGC)

2002: Application Management, 158 pages, Planning to Implement IT Service Management, 208 pages and ICT Infrastructure Management, 283 pages, published.

2003: Software Asset Management, 146 pages, published .

2004: Business Perspective: The IS View on Delivering Services to the Business, published, 180 pages.

2006: (June) ITIL Glossary V2 published

2006: (June) APM Group Limited announced as preferred bidder of ITIL accreditation & certification program, over the itSMF International (expectant winner)

2007: (May) ITIL V3 five core books published.

2011: (July) ITIL 2011 update published.

Let's analyse this timeline a bit:

ITIL V1 was rather similar to IBM's ISMA, especially in support/delivery domain. Core ITIL V2 books did not differ much from ITIL V1. Only a few processes were altered slightly, but the focus and perspective was pretty much unchanged. And this process lasted for some 20 years.

ITIL V3 approximately doubled the scope, almost tripled the number of processes and functions and introduced a few new dimensions and perspectives. We have the first set of core books now, but a lot of time will be needed to develop all the complementary books, to groom and mature the training materials and to polish best implementation practices.

ITIL 2011 books grew 57% in weight and 46% in number of pages due to rewrite and redesign (larger font).


The IT Skeptic said...

Oh for pity's sake PLEASE stop perpetuating the myth that IBM founded or created ITIL. We've been through that with the original authors and it does a great dis-service to the many others who contributed

doctor said...

Haha Skeptic,
You can see that this post is a few years old. I was going thru all web content covering ITIL history at the time. Most of this info came from datamation forum where you participated, and various other sources like your article at

Alan Nance is often quoted: "What is undoubtedly true is that the thinking from IBM’s ISMA heavily influenced the first ITIL books (Helpdesk, Problem and Change Management)."

So we agree that ISMA heavily influenced ITIL, and we agree that it was not the only source or influence. Many good people worked on ITIL since then and I am sorry if it is not visible from this old post of mine.

free cna training said...

I just writing to say that you have posted some interesting posts recently and I was quite exited to find your blog and read all your articles

ITIL Training said...

This is a nice little history of ITIL. We've recently posted a short video exlaining what ITIL is and who it benefits. Check it out here:
What is ITIL?

Mic said...

Thank you for this very interesting blog.
Let met ask a question: does anyone have an idea where I could find the first ITIL publications? (especially ITIL V1 Service Level Management '89).
Thanks a lot,

Web Directory said...

Great article about ITIL history. Learn something everyday. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

You ever gonna give me some credit for creating this diagram and the text?

doctor said...

I have seen this whole post on a few blogs reposted as it is, no credits this blog.

It is sad, but if there are people who can't do any better, what can you do, I will take it as a compliment.

I created this post on September 2007 and have updated it a few times. Thank you for using it.

ITIL Certification Training in Singapore said...

The ITIL Certificate in IT Service Management provides IT rofessionals and managers with the essential skills needed to deliver customer-centric, cost-justified, and business-driven IT services.

Ian Clayton said...

I am in fact the original source of this timeline and set of dates. Not the Doctor as suggested - whoever they may be. The timeline was lifted from an article I assembled. In that article - which I can provide to anyone who emails me - I did not suggest ISMA begat ITIL. IBM literally abandoned their systems management efforts and left them to lie fallow. They did issue them as operational guidance as part of their mainframe systems programmer documentation. I've two subsequent articles I posted and will repost soon - telling the ITIL story from the inside - from one of the early team members. If you'd like to contact me for more on the true history of service management and ITIL - I'm at

doctor said...

Ian, you are right, a good part of the info in this post is from your PDF article iI found somewhere on the web. I was looking for data about ITIL history for an article I wrote for the local itSMF community, and I found interesting that there was no visible knowledge about ITIL history on the web at the time (2007). I researched a bit on Datamation forum and several other sites, and I thought it would be interesting to create a graphic representation of best practices and standards history timeline. Finally I did a parallel timeline of ITIL and ISO/IEC20000 in post.
If you have your original article somewhere on the web, I’ll be happy to refer to it here.
Best regards,

Ian Clayton said...

Thanks for the confirmation. It would have helped if you had cited the source as there is much more information that was available. I'll be posting some anew at the new Service Management University site next week as part of the ITSM historical timeline content. There are also two blogs from one of the original team members that explain in blue collar terms what was really going on behind the scenes - when I have those tidied up I'll send all the links to you. Should I post them here - or by another method?

What is interesting about the service management timeline is that it began @1960s, may well have fed into the BSP work that fueled IBM's ISMA, then was played back into the general ITSM thinking, only to be lost completely with the work of ITIL. The likely reasons behind this massive failing can be put down to the simple needs of CCTA at the time, not a planning failure.

doctor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
doctor said...

Your is down at the moment. Post the links here and I will update the article with yours and all my sources. Thanks.

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