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What was the First Antivirus Software?

Today, antivirus software is an important part of protecting our computers and our private lives. Anti-virus applications keep our computers safe from more than just viruses; it also fends off spyware, Trojans and other forms of malware that can ruin a computer or steal private information, which can ultimately lead to identity theft.

Just a few decades ago, though, there was no such thing as antivirus software. In fact, back then, there wasn't even a use for it since the internet was not used by the populace yet and the threat wasn't a widespread problem. Viruses were contained within the small network of computers that pre-dated the internet.

The first known virus was created in 1971and was dubbed the Creeper Virus. This virus was spread using the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET), the world's first digital networking communications method, which was funded by the United States Department of Defense and used by government research groups and universities. When the computers were infected, the message "I'm the creeper, catch me if you can!" appeared on the screen as it replicated itself to spread to other computers within the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network.

The Creeper Virus was eventually deleted by a program known as The Reaper. You may consider The Reaper the first antivirus software, but the word "virus" wasn't used as the official name of a computer invasion of this type until it was coined by American computer scientist Frederick B. Cohen in 1983.

The Creeper was followed by several more viruses, but the first official antivirus software was developed a few years later. It was called self-reproduction software. This means that the software simply kept a virus from creating copies of itself, which is the primary function of a virus. It really didn't protect the computer from multitude outside forces like today's internet security software does.

The actual removal of viruses using anti-virus technology didn't begin until the late 1980s. The first removal of a computer virus is believed to have been performed by Bernd Fix in 1987. Fix, a computer security expert, is credited with the removal of the Vienna Virus. The Vienna Virus is still used throughout the world. It infects uninfected files in a computer every time an infected file is run. Fortunately, this virus can be detected and removed with today's antivirus software.

Some believe that Fix may not have been the first person to remove a computer virus, however, because right around the same time, the Atari Corporation developed G Data antivirus software, in conjunction with G Data Software, Inc. Soon after, G Data was followed by UVK 2000. These antivirus software applications were developed for Atari Corporation's personal computer line that was created in 1985.

No one can be sure exactly which program was the first antivirus software, but one thing is in fact clear to the millions of computer users that log on each year; thanks to those early programmers and computer-security pioneers, our computers and personal information are safe from hackers and viruses.

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