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Microsoft Co-Founder on Software “Borrowing”

In Microsoft’s Odd Couple in Vanity Fair, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen

The Altair was little more than a bare-bones box with a C.P.U.-on-a-chip inside. It had no hard drive, no floppy disk, no place to edit or store programs.

We moved into Harvard’s Aiken Computation Lab, on Oxford Street, a one-story concrete building with an under-utilized time-sharing system. The clock was ticking on us from the start. Bill had told Ed Roberts, MITS’S co-founder and C.E.O., that our BASIC was nearly complete, and Ed said he’d like to see it in a month or so, when in point of fact we didn’t even have an 8080 instruction manual.

In building our homegrown basic, we borrowed bits and pieces of our design from previous versions, a long-standing software tradition. Languages evolve; ideas blend together; in computer technology, we all stand on others’ shoulders.

Of course, this is true of all creativity and innovation. We learn, tweak, remix, compete, emulate. Yet IP law tries to stop this.

Related posts: Steal Like An Artist; Everything is a Remix.

[H/t Vijay Boyapati]

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To the extent possible under law, Stephan Kinsella has waived all copyright and related or neighboring rights to C4SIF. This work is published from: United States. In the event the CC0 license is unenforceable a  Creative Commons License Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License is hereby granted.