|"A manager's guide to the business and organisational applications of open source technologies"|
Open source software has an extremely long history. In fact, it can be considered to have been used before proprietary software: the very first computers were delivered with free software that was intended to be freely shared among its users. This first flowering of free software came, however, to an end in the late 1960s when Informatics released the first "killer app" under a perpetual commercial licence - and subsequent to this when the US Department of Justice forced IBM to "unbundle" its software from the hardware that it was delivering and release the software under a commercial license.
Despite the rise of proprietary software in the 1970s and 1980s, the belief in the idea of free software remained. This idea of freedom, however, was not just limited to freedom from cost: it was also based upon the very American notion of freedom of speech. During the mid 1980s the GNU Project to create a totally free operating system and the Free Software Foundation were set up by Richard Stallman and others.
At around the time that Tim Berners-Lee created the World Wide Web the first GNU General Public License was also released. This combination of medium - the Web - and a so-called "copyleft" license led to an early explosion in releases of free software and the first commercial companies supporting free software.
1991 saw the world's first website - Info.cern.ch - put online and the release of the Linux operating system core by Linus Torvalds. Computer users now had available a free and powerful operating system. Around the time of the millennium in 1998 the term "open source" was trademarked by Christine Peterson and others. Following on quickly from this, came a wave of releases of applications as free or open source software. The years after the millennium have seen a continuous growth in the number of packages released as open source software.