Historical Record

Doghouse – Old Farts

Article from Issue 270/2023

A new effort to record the history of open source is underway.

Recently a friend of mine posted about a new initiative to engage "Open Source Pioneers" to record their "legacies" with digital recordings about open source history. It seems to be a well-conceived (and even well-funded) effort to capture these stories, and timely, because (as my friend pointed out) many of the people who were in their 30s when the Linux kernel was started (1991) are now (GASP!) in their 60s and are obviously headed toward senility or death.

The creators of this project, called the Free and Open Source Stories Digital Archive Foundation (FOSSDA) [1], did manage to link in Richard M. Stallman and his efforts to start the GNU project and the Free Software Foundation, so the whole "FOSS Era" managed to be moved back a few more years to 1983, which happened to be the year that I joined Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) to start work on their proprietary Unix systems … and yes, I acknowledge that Ultrix was closed source and proprietary to DEC.

Open source, for me, started in 1960 when I was 10 years old. My father subscribed to a number of magazines named "Popular <Something>." Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and Popular Electronics were some of them, with Popular Mechanics and Popular Electronics being my two favorite. These magazines would talk about the technologies of the day and often would include blueprints and circuit diagrams for building things described in the articles – sometimes printed in parts over several months of the magazine.


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