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. firstname.lastname@example.org. 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