Where Virus Program Software Came From
Antivirus software has evolved a lot over the years. It's had to as viruses have been getting trickier to catch and have been attacking at much faster rates. Worse than that, viruses have been designed these days to do more than just create nuisances, however great, and are now able to virtually steal from computer users by spying on them. Viruses can affect any program or computer by accessing your IP online.
Way Back When:
In the beginning of the computer age there weren't any viruses to be concerned about. The idea was out there and there were definitely problems from time to time, but nothing in the way of what's being seen today was even conceived of. The truth is, the first true virus, one that replicated itself successfully, was created as a joke. There was no need for antivirus software and so none existed.
The mid 80s saw things get ugly:
By the mid 1980s computer use in the home was taking off. More and more offices were seeing typewriters get tossed out the windows only to be replaced by full functioning computers. Suddenly there were all of these targets showing up and amateur programmers were taking it as a challenge to program viruses that pretty much amounted to vandalism, as they destroyed data and such. Suddenly antivirus software was needed and by 1987 it existed.
Few people turned to it at first:
At first there was little attention paid to warnings about viruses. Business were the first to adopt such measures but home users didn't have any need. At the time the worst a virus would do was destroy data and therefore regular backing up of a hard drive seemed to be adequate. Also, viruses spread via floppy disks because the internet was hardly in every home. Instead of paying for protective software people just tried to be wary of wary of where they put their disks.
The internet was everywhere and so were the viruses:
When the internet age took off in the 90s viruses had a whole new way to travel around from place to place. They no longer needed to attach themselves to floppy disks and wait to be accidentally installed. In the early days of the net, all a virus writer had to do was place the file somewhere and fool a user into downloading and opening it. Or course, back then viruses could only spread through executable code. Still, the need for antivirus software took off.
Virus writing still seemed slow and so were updates:
For a long while it was hard to update the knowledge base of an antivirus program. Things weren't as they were today where the programs check for and install their own updates. That said, there was little opportunity for updating anyway as updates came very slowly. Today some software gets updated daily but even as recent as a few years ago it was as infrequent as monthly.
And now they check for everything:
These days there are dozens of genres of threats against our computers and so antivirus software is no longer just that. It now searches for malware of all kinds including adware and spyware. They come with firewall applications and the ability to identify and search new drives and files on the fly with no prompting from the user.