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From: Paul Winalski <>
To: steve jenkin <>
Cc: TUHS <>
Subject: [TUHS] Re: Has this been discussed on-list? How Unix changed Software.
Date: Wed, 7 Sep 2022 13:13:31 -0400	[thread overview]
Message-ID: <> (raw)
In-Reply-To: <>

> On 7 Sep 2022, at 02:09, Marc Donner <> wrote:
> By the mid-1980s the Microsoft folks established the notion that software
> was economically valuable.  People stopped giving away source code (IBM's
> change in strategy was called OCO - "Object Code Only") and it totally
> shocked the software developer community by destroying the jobs for
> programmers at user sites.  Combine that with the mid-1980s recession and
> the first layoffs that programmers had ever seen and we saw the first
> horrified realization that the social contract between programmers and
> employers did not actually exist.

Microsoft was a late-comer to the software-as-a-product game.  Back in
the 1970s IBM was forced into a consent decree to unbundle its
software--OS, SW development tools, utilities--from its hardware.
Originally IBM only leased its computers and the OSes, software
development toolchain, and various products such as the sort utility
were provided for free, along with the source code for them.  IBM was
later forced to sell its machines as well as lease them, and the
unbundling of software was the last step in the progression.

There were already third party software vendors in the IBM mainframe
world in the 1970s.  If you were at all serious about sorting you
bought SyncSort instead of using the freebie IBM sort utility.  In the
research world there were pay-for statistical packages such as SPSS
and BMDP.  And third-party database products.

IBM decided to make lemons out of lemonade and discovered to their
delight that they now could make money by selling the software that
they used to just give away.  Naturally if you're making customers pay
for software you don't want the liability risk of having them tinker
with it, so you don't provide the sources anymore.

Software has a radically different business model from
hardware--there's a big initial development cost but manufacturing
comes essentially for free.  Management types used to the
hardware-centric world initially had a lot of trouble seeing software
as a revenue source.  DEC never quite got the hang of it, and even
today Intel doesn't understand software.

By the time Microsoft came along selling software for profit was
well-established.  I remember when I saw PC software for sale for the
first time being astonished that people would actually pay for copies
of simple game programs such as "Hunt the Wumpus" or "Adventure".

-Paul W.

  parent reply	other threads:[~2022-09-07 17:15 UTC|newest]

Thread overview: 31+ messages / expand[flat|nested]  mbox.gz  Atom feed  top
2022-09-05 23:48 [TUHS] " steve jenkin
2022-09-06 16:09 ` [TUHS] " Marc Donner
2022-09-07  4:00   ` steve jenkin
2022-09-07 14:58     ` John Cowan
2022-09-07 17:13     ` Paul Winalski [this message]
2022-09-08 14:12       ` Paul Winalski
2022-09-07  5:15   ` steve jenkin
2022-09-07 13:20     ` Dan Cross
2022-09-07 13:52       ` Steve Nickolas
2022-09-07 12:53 ` [TUHS] STDIN/OUT vs APIs [was: How Unix changed Software] Brian Zick
2022-09-07 13:19   ` [TUHS] " John Cowan
2022-09-07 15:39     ` Joe
2022-09-07 15:43       ` John Cowan
2022-09-07 16:01         ` Charles H Sauer (he/him)
2022-09-06 15:07 [TUHS] Re: Has this been discussed on-list? How Unix changed Software Douglas McIlroy
2022-09-06 17:13 ` Larry McVoy
2022-09-07  1:40 ` steve jenkin
2022-09-07  2:33   ` segaloco via TUHS
2022-09-07  4:08     ` Steve Jenkin
2022-09-07 13:08   ` Steffen Nurpmeso
2022-09-07 14:56   ` Larry McVoy
2022-09-07 21:27     ` Steve Jenkin
2022-09-07 22:36       ` Larry McVoy
2022-09-08 14:42       ` Paul Winalski
2022-09-08 15:02         ` Larry McVoy
2022-09-08 15:04         ` ron minnich
2022-09-08 15:52           ` Warner Losh
2022-09-08 16:47             ` Paul Winalski
2022-09-08 16:50             ` segaloco via TUHS
2022-09-08 17:58               ` ron minnich
2022-09-06 19:04 Douglas McIlroy

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