Advances in computer technology and software have driven developments in mass spectrometry over the last 50 years. Computers and software have been impactful in three areas: the automation of difficult calculations to aid interpretation, the collection of data and control of instruments, and data interpretation. As the power of computers has grown, so too has the utility and impact on mass spectrometers and their capabilities. This has been particularly evident in the use of tandem mass spectrometry data to search protein and nucleotide sequence databases to identify peptide and protein sequences. This capability has driven the development of many new approaches to study biological systems, including the use of "bottom-up shotgun proteomics" to directly analyze protein mixtures. Graphical Abstract ᅟ.