What is the value of software?

EXE Magazine, May 1996

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?

David Mery

(C)1996, Centaur Communications Ltd. Reproduced with the kind permission of EXE Magazine.