After I posted "How far we've come" this morning a few people expressed interest in what our release process looked like before, and what it looks like now.
The earliest recorded release process I know of was called the "Unified Release Process". (I presume "unified" comes from unifying the ways different release engineers did things.) As you can see, it's a very lengthy document, with lots of shell commands to tweak/copy/paste. A lot of the things that get run are actually scripts that wrap some parts of the process - so it's not as bad as it could've been.
I was around for much of the improvements to this process. Awhile back I wrote a series of blog posts detailing some of them. For those interested, you can find them here:
I haven't gotten around to writing a new one for the most recent version of the release automation, but if you compare our current Checklist to the old Unified Release Process, I'm sure you can get a sense of how much more efficient it is. Basically, we have push-button releases now. Fill in some basic info, push a button, and a release pops out: