In The Triumph of the Nerds on Channel 4, we had the rare opportunity of seeing Bill Gates and Paul Allen talking about the development of their 4 KB Basic for the Altair 8800 computer, and Dan Bricklin and Bob Frankston on Visicalc. One major difference between these two pieces of software: one was intellectually protected, the other was not. Bricklin and Frankston believed that it would help others to take ideas from Visicalc, and on this level it was a success. Nearly twenty years later, Microsoft through the EMWAC initiative is helping to create freeware (albeit for one of its commercial OSs). Is this a sign of a return to the highly ethical values of the true hackers?
(C)1996, Centaur Communications Ltd. Reproduced with the kind permission of EXE Magazine.