“Open Letter To Hobbyists” by Bill Gates, 1976:
Why is this? As the majority of hobbyists must be aware, most of you steal your software. Hardware must be paid for, but software is something to share. Who cares if the people who worked on it get paid?
Is this fair? One thing you don’t do by stealing software is get back at MITS for some problem you may have had. MITS doesn’t make money selling software. The royalty paid to us, the manual, the tape and the overhead make it a break-even operation. One thing you do do is prevent good software from being written. Who can afford to do professional work for nothing? What hobbyist can put 3-man years into programming, finding all bugs, documenting his product and distribute for free? The fact is, no one besides us has invested a lot of money in hobby software. We have written 6800 BASIC, and are writing 8080 APL and 6800 APL, but there is very little incentive to make this software available to hobbyists. Most directly, the thing you do is theft.
From Coding Horror, today:
Welcome to the age that thinks software is not the end, but just a means to an end; an end that is something useful to humans: communication, collaboration, creation, perhaps; something more than making someone else pay for something we made for the sole purpose of accomplishing our own goal that costs us zero dollars to give to other people.
Welcome to the age that has advanced itself.
This is disruptive technology. Deal with it.
(P.S. I’m around more often now and starting to contact people.)