Open source software quite literally means software with open source code, which allows developers to modify, build upon, and share because its design is publicly available. Oen source software powers the computers you use every day, without you ever really needing to know it.

But where did it start? What's the history of open source?  Let's take a look into 5 historical facts on open source that will paint a picture of how it began.

When did open source first appear?

The first appearance of open source wasn't actually software. In 1911, Henry Ford was launched the Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Association, which itself launched an open source initiative. In this initiative US auto manufacturers sharing patents openly without seeking direct benefits from each other.  Ever wonder why certain cars share parts with other manufacturers? That has its roots here.

Who was originally responsible for the concept of open source?

Universities are most likely the reason for the being open source software in the first place. Paraphrased from Wikipedia - In the 1950s and into the 1960s almost all software was produced by academics and corporate researchers working in collaboration. Many of the modifications developed by universities were openly shared, in keeping with the academic principles of sharing knowledge, and organizations sprung up to facilitate sharing.

What was the first true open source software?

Contrary to what people believe, it wasn't Linux. The first true open source software was the A-2 system, developed at the UNIVAC division of Remington Rand in 1953. It was released to customers with its source code and were invited to build improvements and send them back for review.

What was the story behind the term open source?

Paraphrased from Wikipedia's history of open source, there were a series of events all tying back to Netscape that led to the adoption of the term open source. In 1997, Eric S. Raymond published "The Cathedral and the Bazaar", an analysis of the hacker community and free software principles. The paper received significant attention and motivated Netscape to release their internet suite as free software.

This prompted Raymond and others to look into how to bring free software principles and benefits to the commercial-software industry. They looked for a way to rebrand the free software movement to emphasize the business potential of the sharing of source code. The label "open source" was adopted by some people in the free software movement at a strategy session in Palo Alto in reaction to Netscape's announcement. The group of individuals at the session included Christine Peterson who suggested "open source", Todd Anderson, Larry Augustin, Jon Hall, Sam Ockman, Michael Tiemann, and Eric S. Raymond.

Those people who adopted the term used the opportunity before the release of Navigator's source code to free themselves of the ideological and confrontational connotations of the term "free software". Netscape released its source code under the Netscape Public License and later under the Mozilla Public License.

The term was given a big boost at an event organized in April 1998 by technology publisher Tim O'Reilly. Originally titled the "Freeware Summit" and later named the "Open Source Summit", the event brought together the leaders of many of the most important free and open-source projects.

What is the most valuable open source software in existence?

Not only does the Bossie Awards recognized Linux as the most important software of all time, there are a ton of facts to back it up. Liux runs 90% of the world's public cloud workload has 62% of the embedded market share, and 99% of the supercomputer market share. Over 15,000 developers from have contributed to the software, resulting in over 83,000 kernel change sets.  The kernel community adds just over 15 files and 7,500 line of code every day.

So that concludes the list. Make sure to follow the blog as we’ll also be adding tons of resources and commentary over the next few weeks on everything from the future of work to growth hacks and automation.

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