View source for Richard Stallman
__NOTOC__ In the late sixties and early seventies most software was produced by academics and corporate researchers working in collaboration, in universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and in the large user groups formed around hardware made by IBM and the Digital Equipment Corporation. Such software was not seen as a commodity. The source code of operating systems, such as early versions of UNIX, was widely distributed, allowing users to fix bugs or add new functionalities. (However, users who received for free early versions of UNIX could not redistribute or distribute modified versions, so this was not what is now called free software.) ==The EMACS line editor== Richard Stallman worked at the MIT Artificial Intelligence laboratory in the early 1970s, during the heyday of MIT "hacker culture." One of Stallman's major contributions there was to improve the line editor known as TECO by adding display-editing and macro features, creating together with Guy Steele a new editor called [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emacs EMACS], which rapidly became the standard editing program at the AI Lab. The wide distribution of source code for such software however raised the danger of too much customization and de-facto forking. Stallman therefore set certain conditions for usage, which he later described as follows: "EMACS was distributed on a basis of communal sharing, which means all improvements must be given back to me to be incorporated and distributed." ==Stallman sides with Greenblatt versus Symbolics== In the early nineteen-eighties Richard Stallman was involved in a software-related conflict. Richard Greenblatt of the MIT AI Lab founded Lisp Machines Incorporated (LMI) in 1980 to market Lisp machines. Greenblatt rejected outside investment, believing that the proceeds from the sale of a few machines could support the growth of the company, while other Lab members who wanted to use venture capital funding founded a competing company called Symbolics. While both companies delivered proprietary software, Stallman sided with Greenblatt, and from 1982 to the end of 1983 he singlehandedly duplicated the efforts of the Symbolics programmers in order to prevent them from gaining a monopoly on the lab's computers. ==GNU and the Frees Software Movement== Although free software had thus been an issue among hackers for years, what is now called the "free software movement" began in 1983 when Richard Stallman launched a project to build a free software operating system called [[GNU Project|GNU]]. GNU is a [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recursive_acronym recursive acronym] that stands for "GNU's Not Unix". The founding goal of the project was to develop "a sufficient body of free software ... to get along without any software that is not free." Software development began on January 5, 1984, when Stallman quit his job at Massachusetts Institute of Technology so that they could not claim ownership or interfere with distributing GNU as free software. In 1985, Stallman published the GNU Manifesto. Soon after, he started a non-profit corporation called the Free Software Foundation (FSF) to employ free software programmers and provide a legal infrastructure for the free software movement. The same year, Stallman invented and popularized the concept of [[Copyleft]], which was first implemented in the GNU Emacs [[General Public License]] (GPL). For the rest of the story, see [[GNU]]. ==Links== *Wikipedia article on Richard Stallman: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Stallman *Wikipedia article about [[GNU]]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Project [[Category:People]]
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