The Birth of the Sharing Culture.



Culture: is a shared, learned, symbolic system of values,
beliefs and attitudes that shapes and influences perception and behavior

 

Very few obstacles erected by man are successful in halting
the ocean.

Dykes, dames, flood-gates, Thames
tributary locks, don’t stem the tide; they just block one narrow area of interest.

 

ENIAC, a wave, turned into a king tide in 1975, when a
couple of school leavers added a teletype keyboard and basic to a home hobbyist
microcomputer that was essentially 19 LEDS with 21 on/off switches.

I remember the seventies; – PdP will be the last computer
that any university needs.

Then the eighties and computers became ubiquitous – to the
early technology adopters.

 

And the early adopters, once they unpacked their nice new
PC’s discovered they had to write their own software. Basic-A was the available
EPROM chip – so everyone wrote basic routines, and began sharing their ideas at
impromptu gabfests at computer shows.

A new industry was born, socially developed software.

Consumers became users, then critics, then programmers. It
was a closed self-sustaining loop, but a loop with no entry fee beyond an open
mind and the willingness to buy a computer and make use of it. Anyone who
didn’t have a computer looked at these nerds with amazement. What the hell were
they all so excited about.

 

And any psychiatrist will tell you that it was about exploration,
control and above all else, logic. If one typed the wrong key, the program
wouldn’t slam the door, storm out of the house and shout from the car window
“I’m going to mothers.”

It wouldn’t result in the sack (mostly), nor would it stop
the sun coming up tomorrow. The wrong key would mean that the program just
wouldn’t work right.

After a few such errors, most consumer/programmers became
adept at scanning and correcting their own code and from this perfected code
came the household names we now all recognise so well. 20/20, Paradox, Dbase,
Borland.

No well you wouldn’t recognize them. They were only there
for a while. But like any industry, they started, peaked, sales dropped off and
they either brought out a new version or bit the dust.

 

Why?

Technology. New programmers were writing better software and
releasing it for $29.95 as shareware.

 

The concept of shareware really took off with the advent of
the Commercial Internet. If you needed to 
do something on your computer, then there was a piece of shareware on
Simtel, your local BBS, or Walnut Creek CD-Rom that would pretty much do what
you wanted. Some of it was free, some of it was free for a time and some of it
you had to pay for from day one, OR suffer reduced functionality.

 

Shareware. A good business model, for cottage industry
programmers, to get their stuff out there and earning a quid. No packaging, no disk
required – just upload it to Simtel and wait for the viral distribution to
occur.

 

The social sharing culture was born of innovation, necessity
and above all else, a desire to learn, to master the machine and make the damn
thing earn its keep.

 

Gee, this shareware is pretty good stuff. What else can we
share? The users asked……….

Comments are closed.