The history of open source communities

Hello again Edgeryders.

Another question for you, this time for all the open source community experts: how long (approximately) have open source communities existed as a means of collaborating quickly and efficiently to realise a specific project?  Is there a particular moment or event that tends to be seen as a key point in their emergence?



Open Source History

It’s a complex question. The best material to find the answer you want is “Eric S. Raymond: A Brief History of Hackerdom”. Thanks to fellow Edgeryder @perulera who pointed that jewel piece of text out once.

Open source has basically existed as long as programming has existed, but the tools for collaboration have evolved a lot of course, esp. with the advent of the Internet.

The closest thing to a key moment in that (rather short) part of open source history that I lived through personally was when opened in Nov 1999 [source]. They offered all kinds of open source project hosting and collaboration tools for free, and with that, founding an open source project became ridiculously easy and cheap. And the number of projects exploded …

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4 freedoms

hi beck!

i would highly recommend taking time out to watch this 2001 documentry called Revolution OS (GNU, Linux, FOSS) which which traces the history of GNU, Linux, and the open source and free software movements.

Stallman is one of the most important figures in my life full stop. its worthing going back and reading about the 4 freedoms and the founding philosophy of GNU.



Thank you thank you Jay! I saw the documentary and made sure a lot of my friends see it too, it tells the story so that most people understand it. Reading The Cathedral and the Bazaar as well…

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The other way around

If you are talking about software, Italian Wikipedia makes an interesting point: software was initially open by default. Only in the 60s (as machines and programming problems became more standard) was proprietary software invented.

Then, in the early 80s, Richard Stallman claimed the right to improve a printer driver and it snowballed from there.

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The EC’s open source initiative(s)


recommend you (also) take a look at That is the EC’s project on the sharing and reuse of IT solutions, open source and semantic information. There is a lot of information available on that site.


(Joinup’s open source news editor)


I asked my FOSS extremist friends your questions and got this link back - Its linked (2 clicks away) from the ‘Four freedoms’ page thejaymo posted, but in case you missed it…

The codebreakers

Also this movie was recommended The Codebreakers : Asia Pacific Development Information Programme : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

The link is dead. I guess its this movie (unseen):


Yup thats the one. Might re-watch it!

While acknowledging SourceForge (and the others?), I can’t help but to cringe at how cumbersome Open Source was with Subversion and earlier VCS systems. Torvalds’ Git and soon after, GitHub turned those concepts on end, and things exploded again.

I’ve got a couple of interesting links I can append once back in desktop. I’m guessing about the growth though, are there any estimates of the “market cap” of Open Source?

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The articulation of the GNU Manifesto is from my point of view a fundamental cornerstone in the emergence of code getting legal protection against the evil copyright mafia.

In essence, all open source licenses are “hacks” of the nasty copyright laws we are all suffering from.

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