SAP AG (ISIN: DE0007164600, FWB: SAP, NYSE: SAP) is a multinational software development and consulting corporation, which provides enterprise software applications and support to businesses of all sizes globally. Headquartered in Walldorf, Germany, with regional offices around the world, SAP is (as of 2009) the largest software enterprise in Europe and the fourth largest software enterprise in the world.  The company's best known product is its SAP Enterprise Resource Planning (SAP ERP) software.
SAP was founded in 1972 as Systemanalyse und Programmentwicklung ("System Analysis and Program Development") by five former IBM engineers in Mannheim, Baden-Württemberg (Dietmar Hopp, Hans-Werner Hector, Hasso Plattner, Klaus E. Tschira, and Claus Wellenreuther).
As part of the Xerox exit strategy from the computer industry, Xerox retained IBM to migrate their business systems to IBM technology. As part of IBM's compensation for the migration, IBM acquired the SDS/SAPE software, reportedly for a contract credit of $80,000. The SAPE software was given by IBM to the founding ex-IBM employees in exchange for founding stock provided to IBM, reportedly 8%. Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) was SAP's first ever customer in 1972.
The acronym was later changed to stand for Systeme, Anwendungen und Produkte in der Datenverarbeitung ("Systems, Applications and Products in Data Processing").
In 1976, "SAP GmbH" was founded and the following year, it moved its headquarters to Walldorf. SAP AG became the company's official name after the 2005 annual general meeting (AG is short for Aktiengesellschaft).
In August 1988, SAP GmbH transferred into SAP AG (a corporation by German law), and public trading started November 4. Shares are listed on the Frankfurt and Stuttgart stock exchanges.
Four of the founding members 1234—Hopp, Plattner, Tschira and Hector—form the executive board. In 1995, SAP was included in the German stock index DAX. On 22 September 2003, SAP was included in the Dow Jones STOXX 50. In 1991, Prof. Dr. Henning Kagermann joined the board; Dr. Peter Zencke became a board member in 1993. Claus Heinrich, and Gerhard Oswald  have been members of the SAP Executive Board since 1996. Two years later, in 1998, the first change at the helm took place. Dietmar Hopp and Klaus Tschira moved to the supervisory board and Dietmar Hopp was appointed Chairman of the supervisory board. Henning Kagermann was appointed as Co-Chairman and CEO of SAP next to Hasso Plattner. Werner Brandt joined SAP in 2001 as a member of the SAP Executive Board and Chief Financial Officer. Léo Apotheker has been a member of the SAP Executive Board and president of Global Customer Solutions & Operations since 2002, was appointed Deputy CEO in 2007, and then became co-CEO alongside Kagermann in 2008.
Henning Kagermann became the sole CEO of SAP in 2003. In February 2007, his contract was extended until 2009. After continuous disputes over the responsibility of the development organization, Shai Agassi, a member of the executive board who had been named as a potential successor to Kagermann, left the organization. In April 2008, along with the announcement of Leo Apotheker as co-CEO, the SAP supervisory board also appointed to the SAP Executive Board, three new members, effective 1 July 2008: Corporate Officers Erwin Gunst, Bill McDermott and Jim Hagemann Snabe.. With the retirement of Henning in May 2009, Leo has taken over as the sole CEO.