Timeline – IT Service Management and ITIL

For almost ten years the following timeline has languished in my vaults of old papers. Recently a few ITSMers asked if I could send them the original.   Well, I can do better.  Here’s a digitized version.  There may well be errors and omissions in my timeline.  If you notice any, or can add more detail, please take a moment and email me – I’ll gladly amend and add as need be.  ian@servicemanagement101.com.  As I wrote in 2007:

“The IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a computer industry phenomenon with its roots in the financially conservative era of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan.  The question of where ITIL® originated, who was involved, why it was developed and whether any other information source can lay claim to being its parent, are the  subject of many late night sessions at conferences and local interest groups. 

Comments from some of those who were there at the time clarify its roots and reason point to it being guidance created by the forgotten men of the Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency, a United Kingdom government department.  Absent any internet, they used any known and available source in an attempt to ‘document common sense’ within government.  They tried to identify and reflect ‘good practices’ that could be standardized, provide a common language, reduce cost, and be best practice for their peers, and the basis for a training curriculum.

The first signs of a project started in 1985 although the historical connections go back much further.  As a government project ‘paid for by tax dollars’, it was hoped to be freely distributed to public organizations.  Its first name was GITMM.  The original user group was named ITIMF, and the itSMF USA predates both the itSMF UK and itSMF International in legal name status!

Once and for all we can dispel the rumors that ITIL was developed as a result of the Falklands War, or at the command of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, although the iron lady might have a case.   It began because of the initiative, belief and passion of a few specific people.  It has changed the management view of what IT operations is, and what it can be.  Thank you ITIL. Thank you itSMF membership and especially the volunteers who throughout the years and right now – make it all happen!”

BTW, a bonus!  I’m  especially grateful to Brian Johnson, one of the original ITIL ‘authors’, who penned two awesome article – true pieces of history – with his recollections to the who, what, where, when and why.  Those two articles are accessible from the buttons below.  Oh, nearly forgot – ITIL® is a Registered Trade Mark of AXELOS

Web Workshop: Service Management Office: Up and Running May 31-June 1
Web Workshop: DevOps and ITIL- Up and Running June 7-8

The ITSM/ITIL Timeline

1907: The Yanks Are Coming...

Once upon a time (1907) in a land far, far away (United Kingdom), a new company, ‘British Tabulating Machine (BTM)’, was formed in London and granted an exclusive license, signed by non other than Dr Hollerith, of the Tabulating Machine Company of America (later IBM).  The goal was to market TMC’s punched card machines in Britain and the Empire; the agreement was dissolved in 1949.  The rest of the ITIL genealogical tree goes something like this:


Merger announced between BTM + Powas-Samas, International Computers and Tabulators (ICT) launched as the merged company.


ICT and English Electric Computers merge to form International Computers Limited (ICL).  This was during the Labour Government and Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s ‘white heat of technology’ era, designed to spearhead the UK’s presence in the emerging computer industry


ICL receives substantial funding from the Government to help it through a financial crisis. During the 1970s the supplier benefited from Whitehall’s ‘buy British’ policies, and soon ICL systems were running most major Government departments


IBM begins research on “the delivery of quality I/S service to the enterprise’, a rational model commonly referred to as the ‘Information Systems Management Architecture (ISMA)’


CCTA (the first exams actually asked you if you could recall what this acronym stood for) became an agency of the Cabinet Office (Office of Public Service), the principal aim being to improve the delivery of public services by the best use of Information Technology (IT). Oh – CCTA stood for: Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency


IBM continues ISMA development of ISMA using the Business Systems Planning (BSP) methodology piloted by companies such as Phillips Petroleum in Bartlesville Oklahoma


Margaret Thatcher become Prime Minister of the UK (through 1990), a preferred supplier policy (such as ICLs with the UK Government agencies) was alien to her pro-competition politics, and ICL had to compete on a level playing field


IBM’s BSP project results in first formal, public publication of ISMA in ‘Volume I of the IBM management series entitled “A Management System for the Information Business.”


IBM continues ISMA research and publishes a second version of Volume I


Alan Benjamin, then ICL’s director of corporate communication, wrote to the Financial Times in an attempt to dismiss speculation, as reported in Computing in January 1981: “No information systems company can match IBM’s resources, but ICL believes profoundly that there must be a British controlled member of the top division and we are there,” he said.


ICL agreement with Fujitsu to sell IBM compatible mainframes. Forged by Rob Wilmot this was a fateful partnership, sourcing key components of ICL’s mainframe technology from Japanese supplier Fujitsu. It was the first time ICL accepted that it could not do everything on its own


IBM releases more detail in the ISMA developments in the form of Volumes II, II and IV of the management series


IBM offers first course, “Organizing the Information Systems Business”, in support of the management series publications


Margaret Thatcher allows foreign bidding on Government contracts, patriotism was weakened by necessity, and ICL by now seen as largely dependent on lucrative Government contracts, and the slow-footed quasi-monopoly faced serious competition from IBM.


IBM aggressively bids against ICL to be the primary vendor of mainframe systems to Government agencies, and starts to win contracts one at a time


ICL acquired by STC (Standard Telephones and Cables)


Numerous attempts from Government staffers to develop an IBM-styled set of operational procedures to operate the growing number of IBM installations are stymied and denied by the CCTA


A Management System for the Information Business: Organizational Analysis”, first published in 1985 (ISBN 0-13-549965-8)


CCTA (predecessor of OGC) finally authorizes a program to develop a common set of operational guidance with the objective of increasing efficiencies in Government IT


Due to the common interest in Service Level Management, Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise (another UK Government agency) becomes involved and teams with CCTA to leverage existing program


Draft guidance, known as the ‘Government Infrastructure Management Method (GITMM)’, is formalized and issued as ‘guidelines’ for Government IT operations in the UK focused on service level management


Still in 1988, the informal team expands and work continues on Cost, Capacity, and Availability


“Competitive Information Management for Quality, Productivity & Profit”, first published in January 1989  (ISBN 0-935310-08-8)


GITMM is renamed to the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL)


The CCTA published three more books:

  • Problem Management, ISBN0 11 330527 3, 66 pages
  • Configuration Management, ISBN 0 11 330530 3, 68 pages, and
  • Cost Management for IT Services, ISBN 0 11 330547 8, 65 pages, published

1991 (2nd May)

The ITIL User Group was formed and attended by interested parties from the UK and the Netherlands.

If you were there and have any insights as to what happened – no matter how ‘personal’ please email me with the details, I’d love to publish!

1991 (15th July)

The IT Infrastructure Management Forum (ITIMF) was proposed as a UK centric replacement for the ITIL User Group

1991 (28th October)

The ITIMF Articles of Incorporation are produced and agreed

1991 (7th November)

ITIMF is officially incorporated


Two more books from the CCTA:

  • Software Control & Distribution, ISBN 0 11 330537 0, 56 pages, and
  • Capacity Management, ISBN 0 11 330544 3, 89 pages


CCTA publishes another IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) book: Availability Management, ISBN 0 11 330551 6, 69 pages


1st Annual ITIMF conference at the Stratford Moat House in UK

1993 (February)

ITIMF changes its organizational structure from an Executive Committee to a Management Board and Council

1993: (May)

ITIMF rents space at the CCTA building

1996 (July)

First ITIL Service Manager class delivered in US by US company, Strategic Data Systems owned by Ian Clayton,  16 attended, 10 candidates, nine passes, one distinction, first US company authorized as an ITIL accredited course provider – doing business as the IT Service Management Institute (ITSMI).

David Cannon (then at Foster Melliar a South African company), led the class under a partner agreement with Ian Clayton. Some of those in attendance included the first wave of true ITSMers in the USA and the eventual cofounders of the itSMF USA.  It was held at two villas on the Southern Dunes golf course near Haines City Florida.

1996: (October)

 itSMF Americas formed by Ken Hamilton of ManageOne, Ian Clayton of Strategic Data Systems, and largely funded by Hewlett Packard with the valuable involvement of Ken Wendle.  Shortly renamed with the emergence of Canada to itSMF North America and then itSMF USA. 


Ian Clayton designs the association logo and operates the itSMF USA website while also kick starting membership (VP of Membership).  Ken Hamilton was President.  Ken Wendle played key roles in encouraging increased role of HP and the emerging HP ITSM ‘tiger’ teams working on major accounts and the infamous HP Reference Model.


First unofficial US ‘local interest group’ meeting held by Ian Clayton at Holy Cross Health Systems in Grand Rapids, Michigan  (the very first customer for Ian and ITSMI), 35 customer organizations attended.  After considerable arbitration, a number of software vendors were allowed to host ‘vendor booths’ outside the main meeting room.  The attendees wanted a vendor free zone!


Publication of a ‘customer focused’ update to the ITIL Service Level Management book, ISBN 0 11 330691 1, 106 pages by CCTA

1997: (2nd April)

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


Version 2 of ITIL appears in the form of the first publication – ITIL Service Support ISBN 0 11 330015-8, 306 pages


Version 2 of ITIL adds the Service Delivery book.  The red one!  ISBN 0 11 330017-4, 376 pages

2001 (1st April)

Yes – April Fools Day – the UK Governamnet had a habit of announcing things on that day for some unknown reason (anyone know?)

CCTA became an integral part of the Office of Government Commerce

2001 (September 11)

First itSMF USA conference scheduled, rescheduled for October due to terrorist attacks on World Trade Center Towers


CCTA – now OGC – publishes the Application Management book ISBN 0 11 330866-3, 158 pages, followed by two more:

  • Planning to Implement IT Service Management ISBN 0 11 330877-9 208 pages (note its implement ITSM not ITIL!)
  • and ICT Infrastructure Management ISBN 0 11 330865-5 283 pages


OGC publishes Software Asset Management ISBN 0 11 330943 0, 146 pages

2004 (July 26)

The itSMF International is legally incorporated (!)  It had been operating for some time since without any paperwork of note it seems.


OGC adds the Business Perspective: The IS View on Delivering Services to the Business, book to the Version 2 set – ISBN 0 11 330894 9, 180 pages

2005 (August)

OGC launches ITIL Qualification Scheme to restate the credential criterion and protect the ITIL brand name, first trademark and copyright use licenses awarded.

Ian Clayton was the pilot for this and is still the proud owner of those licenses numbered 0001!

2005 (September)

OGC Commercial Activities Recompetition (CAR) Call for Authors for ITIL Glossary announced

2005 (November)

Bid to update ITIL Glossary awarded to HP

2005: (November)

First elected itSMF International Board

2005: (December)

OGC CAR request for authors for practitioner publications announced

2006 (January)

OGC Commercial Activities Recompetition (CAR) request for bids to update ITIL publications closed

2006 (April)

Revised ITIL Glossary published in web-based version

2006 (June)

 ITIL Glossary version 2 published

2006 (June)

APM Group Limited (UK) announced as preferred bidder of ITIL accreditation and certification program, itSMF International (expectant winner) fails to win

2007 (May

Version 3 of ITIL (Edition 2007) launched consisting of 26 processes and functions grouped into five core volumes centered around a ‘service lifecycle’ core

2011 (July)

ITIL Edition 2011 published as a major readability update to version 3

2013 (July)

Ownership of ITIL transferred to Axelos Ltd, a joint venture between the UK Cabinet office and Capita Plc.  AXELOS licenses organizations to use the ITIL intellectual property, accredits licensed Examination Institutes, and manages updates to the framework

Snooze... until now April 2016

Axelos publishes a new book January 26, 2016 – ITIL Practitioner Guidance – accompanied in April by a course and certificate exam. ISBN 978-011-3314874