Users groups (was Closed vs. open source timeline)

Al Kossow aek at bitsavers.org
Thu Aug 21 12:56:23 CDT 2008


 > Just to mention, IIRC, SHARE, the IBM user group, which I believe was intended
 > both for sharing software amongst members and presenting a coordinated front of
 > members to IBM, was started back in the late 50's, or very early 60's

IBM had SHARE and GUIDE, for scientific and commercial users. SHARE was formed in
1955.

Every large computer maker had a user's group, with differing restrictions on program
redistribution. Many of the groups were run by the computer companies themselves, and
had restrictions on who could join. Individual programs were published in a catalog with
a modest charge to cover copying costs (though it would add up very quickly if you wanted
ALL the programs).

Groups like ACM maintained a collection of algorithms. For a few years in the 70's, ACM
actually published a book of all available non-commercial software.

I can't think of any organization that was a large-scale clearinghouse/repository for different
vendor's unencumbered software until archives began to spring up in the late 70's.

The result of this is very little early software has survived, because as computer companies
disappeared, no one saved the bits.

As someone else has mentioned, the actual distribution restrictions varied. The use of copyright
as a mechanism to force source code to remain available is a relatively modern invention (early
80's) by FSF/RMS. Before that, it either was placed in the Public Domain, or was copyrighted with
varying restrictions. The rules for copyright have changed over the past 50 years, so there are
programs which have gone into the Public Domain even though they were published with a copyright
notice.

"Closed" sources are generally considered proprietary, unpublished works. The earliest versions of
UNIX, for example, carry no copyrights or other notices, but were considered proprietary, unpublished
works.








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