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Re: [Fsfe-uk] Explanation of Tivosiation and problems - comments sought

From: Chris Croughton
Subject: Re: [Fsfe-uk] Explanation of Tivosiation and problems - comments sought
Date: Mon, 18 Dec 2006 18:07:29 +0000
User-agent: Mutt/1.3.28i

On Mon, Dec 18, 2006 at 03:36:44PM +0000, Graham Seaman wrote:

> Chris Croughton wrote:
> >On Mon, Dec 18, 2006 at 01:33:06PM +0000, Nic James Ferrier wrote:
> >  
> >>Chris Croughton <address@hidden> writes:
> >>
> >>    
> >>>Free as in freedom or as in beer?  I agree that many people wouldn't
> >>>have got started if they'd had to buy the software (that was one of my
> >>>main motivations for starting to use GCC, that it didn't cost me
> >>>anything), but how many of them actually go so far as to modify and
> >>>improve the code?  Your "a lot" could mean anything over about 10.
> >>>      
> >>1000s if not 100s of thouands.
> >>
> >>Look at RT for GCC or the Changlog. Just a year's worth includes many,
> >>many people.
> >>    
> >
> >I see nothing in there which says who got started because of Free
> >Software, most of the names I recognise seem to have been software
> >professionals long before there was any such thing.
> >  
> There's no such time. I first got the chance to do some programming when 
> my team got a copy of Star Trek in 1977, followed not long after by 
> Colossal Cavern. If I remember right, both were under an old-style 
> BSD-ish license (even though Colossal Cavern was from Stanford).  I 
> hacked about with Star Trek to add black holes; several of the other 
> people working with me also got started by doing similar things  (as 
> operators we were not allowed to touch any production software).  We 
> were amazed that such large programmes should be free (not only 
> financially).  Free software  long predates the 80s, in spite of the 
> myths. Some of it is even still in use. Now where's that version of 
> Spice gone..?

The term "Free Software" (capitalised, and with the current meaning of
the 4 freedoms) was not used until a lot more recently, before that it
meant anything from free (as in beer) binaries via hex dumps to source
code (which was often still free (as in beer) even when you weren't
allowed to use it without massive restrictions).  That's why I
capitalised it.

Certainly most of us got started on some kind of free (as in beer)
software, even if it was software someone else (employer, college, etc.)
had bought.  But it was rarely Free Software in the modern sense.  As I
recall the original Colossal Cave was distributed as binaries, certainly
many versions of the Star Trek game were binary-only.

The only free (as in distributable) software I knew about around that
time was stuff I and my friends wrote, but we rarely distributed it
further than a few friends (we had no way of doing so easily, copying
packs of punched cards is tedious and error-prone and they are expensive
to ship, and we couldn't afford mag tape).  Even paper tape causes
comment when you dump several reels of it...

Chris C

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