ABAP used to be an abbreviation of Allgemeiner Berichts Aufbereitungs Prozessor, German for "generic report preparation processor", but was later renamed to the English Advanced Business Application Programming. ABAP was one of the first languages to include the concept of Logical Databases (LDBs), which provides a high level of abstraction from the basic database level(s).
The ABAP language was originally used by developers to develop the SAP R/3 platform. It was also intended to be used by SAP customers to enhance SAP applications – customers can develop custom reports and interfaces with ABAP programming. The language was geared towards more technical customers with programming experience.
ABAP remains as the language for creating programs for the client-server R/3 system, which SAP first released in 1992. As computer hardware evolved through the 1990s, more and more of SAP's applications and systems were written in ABAP. By 2001, all but the most basic functions were written in ABAP. In 1999, SAP released an object-oriented extension to ABAP called ABAP Objects, along with R/3 release 4.6.
ABAP has an abstraction between the business applications, the operating system and database. This ensures that applications do not depend directly upon a specific server or database platform and can easily be ported from one platform to another.
The latest version, ABAP Objects, is object-oriented programming. SAP's original business model for R/3 was developed before the idea of an object-oriented model was widespread. The transition to the object-oriented model reflects an increased customer demand for it. ABAP Objects uses a single inheritance model and full support for object features such as encapsulation, polymorphism, and persistence.