In the 1960s, it was typical for software to be distributed freely by companies such as IBM and shared amongst users. Software was then considered an enabler for the hardware, around which the business model of these corporations was built. Software was provided with source code that could be improved and modified; this was therefore the very early seeds of open source software. However, as hardware became cheaper and profit margins eroded in the 1970s, manufacturers looked to software to provide additional revenue streams.
In September 1983, Richard Matthew Stallman, former programmer at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab launched the GNU project to create a free UNIX-like operating system (OS). He was concerned with growth in proprietary software and users' inability to access and modify programmes on their computers. Developer constraint, as opposed to freedom was prevalent. With the launch of the GNU project, Stallman started the Free Software Movement and in October 1985, set up the Free Software Foundation.
Stallman pioneered the definition and characteristics of open source software and the concept of copyleft. He is the main author of several copyleft licenses, including the GNU General Public License (GPL), which is the most widely used free software license.
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