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GNU is Not Unix Open Source Your Rights Online

The Free Software Foundation: 30 Years In 135

An anonymous reader writes: The Free Software Foundation was founded in 1985. To paint a picture of what computing was like back then, the Amiga 1000 was released, C++ was becoming a dominant language, Aldus PageMaker was announced, and networking was just starting to grow. Oh, and that year Careless Whisper by Wham! was a major hit. Things have changed a lot in 30 years. Back in 1985 the FSF was primarily focused on building free pieces of software that were primarily useful to nerdy computer people. These days we have software, services, social networks, and more to consider. In this in-depth interview, FSF executive director John Sullivan discusses the most prominent risks to software freedom today, Richard M. Stallman, and more.
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The Free Software Foundation: 30 Years In

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  • C++ dominant? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 08, 2015 @10:45AM (#50478459)

    C++ was only 2 years old in 1985, and hardly anyone had heard of it. It was nowhere close to "becoming dominant."

    Microsoft and Borland didn't introduce C++ compilers until after 1990, which is when it really took off.

    • Yeah, and in my C++ class in I think 1991, the "textbook" was some compiler's manual, I *think* Borland's, since it fully explained the language and was apparently the convenient way to get a language reference. (I don't remember if it was before, or just way cheaper than, Bjarne's book.)

  • C++ (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 08, 2015 @10:45AM (#50478463)

    C++ wasn't becoming a dominant language in 1985. That didn't happen until the IDEs supported it about 5 years later. Turbo C became Turbo C++ and then Borland C++. Microsoft was recommending Glockenspiel until they could get their own support done. 1990 really.

    Was there, got the T-Shirt.

  • I disagree (Score:5, Informative)

    by Psychotria ( 953670 ) on Tuesday September 08, 2015 @10:46AM (#50478475)

    In 1985 C++ was not becoming a dominant language. C was certainly high on the list of "dominating" languages, but so was ASM (often C and assembly language for critical sections were used together) and so was Pascal, Modula-2, COBOL, Fortran, Lisp, etc, etc, etc and a bunch of languages (some still very much in use today), but C++... C++ was a newcomer and far from becoming dominant. It might be accurate to say that C++ was gaining support. It might be accurate to say that C++ was encouraging or spurring on the acceptance of the OOP paradigm (whatever that is), but no... I don't think that C++ was beginning to dominate anything at all at that point in time.

    • There goes slashdot again, with their clickbait headlines!

      • See, there's a whole economy that revolves around RMS.

        • I think you mis-spelled "crazy zealots".

          • More like the entire internet which these days is mostly Linux powered, and Linux got where it is in large part because of the GPL, which is the work of RMS.

            So little respect, shameful.

    • by T.E.D. ( 34228 )

      The first time I ever even heard of C++ that I remember was in 1993 or so, and even then it was that interesting little project by that guy with the funny name over on the comp.lang.c++ newsgroup. And this is from a guy who had an interest in languages and compilers, and a subscription to SIGPLAN. I don't think I ever encountered it being used professionally until 1997 (and that was with VS6, which barely ought to count as C++).

      In 1985 just getting a C compiler for your microcomputer was a really really bi

    • > C++ was encouraging or spurring on the acceptance of the OOP paradigm (whatever that is),

      Uh, you DO realize Alan Kay _invented_ the term Object-Orientated back in 1967, which is 20 *years* before C++ took off in 1990, right?

      "I made up the term object-oriented, and I can tell you I did not have C++ in mind."

      * https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]
      * http://programmers.stackexchan... [stackexchange.com]

    • Indeed, in 1985 C++ was just being invented - or at least, refined - and was still a language preprocessed into C code. Been there, got the Tshirt.
  • Am I the only one who initially read "the most prominent risks to software freedom today: Richard M. Stallman, and more."???
    Let the controvercy begin (dramatic music).

  • In 1985 there was a revolt against copy protected software, people would not buy it. Now Digital Restrictions Malware is everywhere, most people have turned into cattle that will buy whatever the corporations are selling. Call DRM what it really is "Digital Restrictions Malware"
    • In 1985 there was a revolt against copy protected software, people would not buy it.

      Aldus Pagemaker shipped in 1985 with great success and big sales and heavy copy protection.

    • There was PLENTY of copy protected software sold in 1985, on practically every platform. DOS, C64, whatever. Were you a Speccy user stuck using cassette tapes or something?

    • Now Digital Restrictions Malware is everywhere, most people have turned into cattle that will buy whatever the corporations are selling.

      Rubbish. People wanted their music on any of their devices so Apple - of all companies - made the push to make their extensive music catalog DRM-free to their users. Now people want on-demand music and videos on all their connected devices so Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Spotify, etc provide this, whether or not there is a DRM component is irrelevant. The freedom to do something is a means to an end but you're so fixated on the ideological aspects of DRM that you ignore the most important thing: what end users w

  • I like cats if they are friendly, but they are not good for me; I am somewhat allergic to them. This allergy makes my face itch and my eyes water. So the bed, and the room I will usually be staying in, need to be clean of cat hair. However, it is no problem if there is a cat elsewhere in the house—I might even enjoy it if the cat is friendly.

    Dogs that bark angrily and/or jump up on me frighten me, unless they are small and cannot reach much above my knees. But if they only bark or jump when we enter t

  • Free other things (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Tuesday September 08, 2015 @11:25AM (#50478753)

    FSF has definitely made the world a better place by given users choices, but also, ironically, by improving quality of proprietary software. I would hate to think how buggy SSL would be if every vendor rolled their own copy. If they could agree on a protocol standard at all without a mature free software stack that is.

    But I wonder if nowadays software is really the most important thing that needs to be made more free as in freedom. How about free culture (copyrights that expire in time to share your favouring movies with grandkids)? Free food (planting seeds without Monsanto permission)? Free medicine (generic drugs would save millions of lives worldwide)? Free immigration/religion/politics?

    Wish we had folks like RMS to achieve concrete progress in these causes.

    • Science would be a good start. Free software itself is an obvious continuation of the centuries of the scientific principle, which is being ruined by a more general tendency of closed propriety. For example, in molecular modelling you find a great deal of papers where the authors use closed-source software for the actual modelling, and the paper itself is paywalled despite public funding.
    • How about free culture (copyrights that expire in time to share your favouring movies with grandkids)?

      that's a conflict of interest for RMS because code is only covered by the GPL because of absurdly long copyright. companies could make custom closed source versions of linux 2.4 and GNU tools and not even the GPLv3 could touch them. it would also make it more difficult to prove GPL violation because you would have to find the software version if it's old software like GNU.

      RMS likes the eternal copyright because it makes the GPL stronger.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I still don't have free beer.

    • I have almost free beer, I learned to make my own. There are some ingredients you probably have to buy, just like you need to buy hardware to run your free software. There are some ingredients you may be able to find in the wild [gruitale.com] for free.
  • How can you list off events from 1985 and leave off the most important one: Back To The Future came out and promised us that by 2015, we'd all have flying cars. Darn it, I'm still waiting!

  • Back in 1985 I was learning 64K Tarbell BASIC on a Cromemco running CP/M.

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