To many business leaders "quality" is a dirty word. But, "Lean" is okay; however, "Six Sigma" is now archaic. It seems like the concept of improvement is continually undergoing criticism as a chaotic cacophony of derisive complaints about being a "fad" or a "fiction" that never lives up to its performance promise. But, then there are the "shining lights" of organizations that make it work, at least for a period of time long-enough for the business leaders of other organization to believe it possibly could work for them. Then there is always the 'impossibility of Toyota" - if so many can't make this "quality thing work" then maybe that is just advertising or a slick promotional effort to gain market share and look better than the competition? This presentation will put these types of executive judgments in a historical perspective and review how quality evolved from its most humble beginnings when "homo erectus" was just trying to stay warm and make a better tool. As humans evolved into the "sapiens" the got smarter about how to put things together and could attempt to make things repetitively. When man advanced as "homo economicus" then collaborative working systems, repetitive manufacturing, interchangeable parts, and harnessed sources of power (water then electricity) led to the industrial revolution. As mankind became smarter about working and entered the "Age of the Smart Machine" then collaborative working changed from "handwork" to "headwork" and the machines became capable of being the "master thinkers" in these productive systems. This evolution has led us to the current state of the Industrial Revolution 4.0 and its associated concept of Quality 4.0. This presentation will provide a unique insight into these transitions through a series of case studies that illustrate how the companies that forged this digital age migrated their approaches to quality so we have arrived at our current conundrum - what do we mean by quality in the digital age? The company examples will begin at the start of the development of the knowledge worker in the 1970s and demonstrate the learnings that occurred at such companies as Xerox, Hewlett-Packard, Compaq Computer, Nokia Mobile Phones and Toshiba. The cases will be told through the lens of an executives who served as a quality leader or advisor in all of these organizations so the dynamics of their discoveries can be clearly understood by the audience. The presentation closes with a summary description of the current state of Quality 4.0 and a proposed definition that has evolved out of this history along with a proposal for how it should move forward.