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We used it like Free Software
By wolfgangj, Section Diaries
Posted on Fri Oct 3rd, 2003 at 11:40:20 GMT
There was a time before I knew about GNU, Free Software and GNU/Linux. Back when me and my friends more-or-less happiely used and programmed on DOS, something interesting happened. Microsoft distributed an interpreter for a dialect of the BASIC programming language with their operating system, and they included two games as example programs.

 

As we had the source code, we modified at least one of these two games (the other one was not that interesting). We added our own levels, modified existing ones and changed a few other details. We also distributed our changes to other people. That was the way how we were dealing with code in general. There was a lot of code around, not only from Microsoft, which we used in our own programs. Often we didn't even know where it came from.

Of course it was not allowed to modify the Microsoft games, or most of the other code. However, neither me nor my friends ever wasted a single thought on this topic. If someone would have told us that we did something illegal when we modified these programs and distributed the modified copies, we probably would have been shocked to hear that. It's not that we didn't care whether it was illegal. We just did not think about it at all. We just used the code as it pleased us, as if this would be the most natural thing of the world.

Did I just write "as if this would be"? Well, it *IS* the most natural thing of the world, actually. I know because I felt that it was. So in some way I have to be thankful about what Microsoft did in two very different ways: Of course they also showed me how proprietary software sucks (and I am not speaking about technological issues here), but they showed me how wonderful a world of sharing code can be, just by delivering an interpreter rather than a compiler.

Cheers,
GNU/Wolfgang

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We used it like Free Software | 4 comments (4 topical, editorial) | Post A Comment
[new] I like this entry very much... (#1)
by dyfet (#43) () on Tue Feb 10th, 2004 at 20:17:52 GMT
(User Info) http://www.gnu.org/software/bayonne

Many years ago, in fact prior to Microsoft "DOS", and certainly prior to my knowledge of Free Software, I wrote and sold games, for Ohio Scientific computers, through Aardvark Technical Services, typically written in a mixture of Basic and 6502 assembler. I was quite happy to write games and have others modify them, or to receive games from others that I could then modify. This experiance of sharing was killed one day when suddenly the games I bought no longer included source that could be modified, for someone had added a new technology to cassette basic to enable the source content to be shrouded and obscured from user modification. This "feature" to hide source from others, incidently, was added by Microsoft to their casette basic.

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[new] I read gnu-friends.org a lot more than I post. (#2)
by a member of the hurd (#-1) on Mon Nov 15th, 2004 at 05:39:38 GMT

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We used it like Free Software | 4 comments (4 topical, editorial) | Post A Comment
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