Norbert Bollow nb at SoftwareEconomics.biz
Tue Nov 23 10:25:42 CST 2004

Hash: SHA1

Don Parris <gnumathetes at gmail.com> wrote:

> As for Sun claiming to have "invented" open source, I thought it was
> RMS who started the whole ball rolling.  Correct me if I'm wrong.

Richard Stallman (RMS) invented the GPL, but he didn't invent "open

The first commercial computers were produced in the 1960's, and they
came with software that could be freely shared among users, it came
with source code, and it could be improved and modified.

This changed in the late 1960s, and by the mid-1970s it had become
usual to find "closed-source" software, in the sense that users were
not allowed to redistribute it, that source code was not available,
and that users could not modify the programs.

In spite of this, communities of computer users where programs were
shared freely in an "open source" manner have always continued to
exit. During the 1970's and early 1980's, this liberal sharing of
computer programs was generally facilitated through releasing the
programs into the public domain. (Until the US joined the Berne
Convention in 1989, publicly distributing the source code for a
program without copyright notice put the program into the public
domain as far as US copyright law was concerned). There was also a lot
of software with restrictions such as "educational use only", "no
commercial use", "postcard-ware" which are outside of the scope of the
term "open source software" as it is understood today. 

In the mid-1980's Richard Stallman developed his strongly ideological
"free software philosophy". (For all practical purposes, what Stallman
calls "free software" is the same thing as what is today popularly
known as "open source software", even though the precise definitions
are different.) Stallman consideres it a serious violation of
essential personal freedom rights to be forced to use computer
programs which are not free software, and he decided to solve the
problem of not having a complete free software computer operating
system by creating one, the "GNU system".

Blessings, Norbert.

- -- 
Founder & Steering Committee member of DotGNU, see http://dotgnu.org/
Free Software Business Strategy Guide   --->  http://FreeStrategy.info
Norbert Bollow, Weidlistr.18, CH-8624 Gruet (near Zurich, Switzerland)
Tel +41 1 972 20 59        Fax +41 1 972 20 69       http://norbert.ch
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