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2.0 — I’m guessing that just by writing this number, in this format, many of you know where I’m heading.

It’s become popular, even ingrained, in our culture to refer to things in iterations. Version 2.0, 3.0, etc., signaling a new and improved version of the last. When Mandy decides to make some improvements in her life she may begin to refer to these life changes as "Mandy 2.0."

This idea of iterations began in software development. It is called software versioning, "the process of assigning either unique version names or unique version numbers to unique states of computer software. Within a given version number category (e.g., major or minor), these numbers are generally assigned in increasing order and correspond to new developments in the software. At a fine-grained level, revision control is often used for keeping track of incrementally-different versions of information."

This is how and why one might see improvements and updates to software named Widget move from Widget 1.0.1 to Widget 1.5.4 to a final new and improved release to the computing world dubbed Widget 2.0.

"It seems the NFL player whose image adorns the cover of each new version of the game is often cursed with a terrible performance that season."

The process is similarly evident in video games and video game consoles. Popular for decades now, Madden—a video football game bearing the name of legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden and supported by the NFL—is released in a new version each year, with the most current version being Madden NFL 23. As rather grim evidence of the game’s impact, it seems the NFL player whose image adorns the cover of each new version of the game is often cursed with a terrible performance that season.

The consoles used to play the games, for example Sony’s PlayStation and Microsoft’s Xbox, use similar iterations. The PlayStation followed each iteration, or release of its hardware, in the same way as the examples above, from PlayStation to PS2, PS3, PS4 to its current version PS5. Microsoft however—often snickered at and pondered as to why—followed an unconventional iteration scheme, introducing the Xbox, Xbox 360, Xbox One, and Xbox Series. Of course it did not follow sequentially and there may be marketing involved as they are referred to as generations by the company, but they are iterations nonetheless.

But to find the official start of 2.0 as we know it today, we turn to Web 2.0, a term coined in 1999 by Darcy DiNucci and championed by other developers through the early 2000s. While it is said to not indicate a formal change from the "old" world wide web, which would be called Web 1.0 by default, it followed the tradition of software versioning and described a "period [where] interactive websites proliferated and came to overshadow the older, more static websites of the original Web," according to Wikipedia.

Much like the early World Wide Web, the industrial revolution was not originally monikered Industry 1.0, but if we follow it back we can trace manufacturing’s iterations. It did in fact start with the Industrial Revolution and the rise of machines dominating industries like mining, textiles, glass and agriculture in England in 1760 and shortly thereafter in the U.S.

The second Industrial Revolution, Industry 2.0 if you will, is denoted by the period from 1871 to 1914 when technologies like the railroads, modern assembly lines, and telegraphs made it possible to move people and ideas faster than ever before, leading to a boom in productivity and economic growth.

Industry 3.0 began in the 1970s and is often referred to as the Digital Revolution. In my opinion, it can be summed up in one word—computers.

As for Industry 4.0, the term originated in 2011 in the upper echelons of a German government that wanted to "promote the computerization of manufacturing." Likely more accurate is that Industry 4.0 acts to closer marry physical assets—human and otherwise—with advanced technology. If you are familiar with the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, collaborative robots, 3D printing, and cloud computing, you are familiar with Industry 4.0.

If you are a regular reader of Quality then you are familiar with all of these things and our "subset" of Industry 4.0, Quality 4.0, and you can become even more familiar by checking out our Automation Special Section. You can also meet this year’s Quality Professional of the Year, Saso Krstovski, all in this month’s Quality.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!