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Old 06-07-2017, 02:30 AM   #46
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Hopefully sameergupta shows up again to update the thread with the results of the research.

In case someone stumbles over this thread in the future, here are two illustrations of the case I mentioned much earlier above about source being freely available prior to the 1980's.

One from 1990, is where Ralph E. Griswald mentions indirectly software patents (a US-centric problem).

Dave Farber, who was one of the initial SNOBOL people with Bell Laboratories working with us on that, was invited to give a talk at the University of Michigan on the work on SNOBOL, and he wanted to give them a copy of the program. He looked up into the air somewhere and decided that a permission to give a talk on software constituted permission to release the software. Nobody at Bell Laboratories knew any better, because nobody had any idea of what a program was, at least in the patent department and the release procedure. That sort of happened and then that was used as a precedent for everything that followed. A pyramid was built on this precedent.

Oral history interview with Ralph E. Griswold and Madge T. Griswold
Since that university had the language on their mainframes, and fully written up in guides by September 1975, we can infer that the transfer was between 1961 and 1975, possibly between 1967 and 1975 since that is when SNOBOL4 came out. Anyway, the point is that source code was still freely available.

Much later, developer attitudes show that full access to the source was still expected even in 1984 even after the period of contraints had started:

Frustration mounted as the woman gave evasive answers which seemed to add up to “No, we refuse to commit to allowing general access to this code.” Which seemed to confirm everyone’s worst fears about what was going to happen to Unix source code access in general.

At which point Henry Spencer stands up and says (not in these exact words) “I will write and share a conforming implementation.” – and got a cheer from the assembled.

Set the WABAC to 1984: Henry Spencer getopt, and the roots of open source
I'm sure there are more example like those to be found fairly easily but the difficulty now is finding people still active to talk about it, or who are even still alive:


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