Free Software timeline

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Timelines are a great tool for piecing together history. If you are interested in understanding free software in greater context, you are encouraged to not just explore this timeline but to fork it (the Techrights wiki is licensed CC BY-SA 3.0, please feel free to host your own version) and use it to examine the history of events from another focus.

Contents

1887

  • 5 September: The Berne Convention is ratified, creating mandatory copyright on works in countries that join. [1]


1953

  • A-2, a compiler-related tool based on Grace Hopper's A-0 system, is released to customers with the source code. [2]


1969

  • Work begins on Unix at Bell Laboratories [3]


1971

  • Work begins on the C language at Bell Laboratories [4]


1973

  • Unix kernel rewritten in C [5]


1978

  • January 1: The Copyright Act of 1976, which became a public law on October 19 of that year, goes into effect in the United States. It had several purposes including bringing the U.S. into greater compliance with the Berne Convention (prior to joining) and made copyright mandatory for fixed works. It also introduced "Fair Use" doctrine into U.S. copyright law. [6]


1980

  • United States Congress amends Title 17 of the United States Code to include computer programs as copyrighted works [7]


1983

  • 2.9BSD becomes the first version of BSD that is a full operating system rather than a set of applications and patches [8]
  • 27 September: Richard Stallman announces the GNU Project [9]


1986

  • February: X10R3 becomes the first freely redistributable X release; uwm is the default window manager [10]


1987

  • 15 September: X11 first released [11]


1989

  • 1 March: After joining the Berne Convention in 1988, its rules go into effect in the United States on this date. [12]
  • 22 December: X11R4 released, making twm the default window manager [13]


1990

  • Development of GNU Hurd kernel begins [14]


1991

  • 25 August: Development of Linux announced [15]


1992

  • S.u.S.E. founded by Roland Dyroff, Thomas Fehr, Burchard Steinbild and Hubert Mantel [16]
  • 13 December: First free software (GPL-licensed) version of Linux kernel (0.99) released [17]


1993

  • 17 July: Initial Release of Slackware distribution [18]
  • 16 August: Debian Project established by Ian Murdock [19]
  • 15 September: Intial Release of Debian (0.01) [20]
  • 1 November: FreeBSD (having first been named on June 19) releases version 1.0 [21]


1994

  • S.u.S.E. Linux 1.0 (based on Slackware) released [22]
  • January: AT&T lawsuit affecting BSD is settled [23]
  • 5 April: GNU Hurd is bootable [24]
  • June: 4.4BSD-Lite is a freely-distributable version of BSD following the settlement of the AT&T lawsuit [25]


1998

  • 3 February: Broadly considered (by proponents of both Free Software and Open Source) to be the date "Open Source" term was coined by Christine Peterson to focus on "pragmatic, business-case" concerns over the more political label "free software." [26] Earlier uses of the phrase in similar contexts are sometimes acknowledged.
  • February: Open Source Initiative founded by Eric Raymond and Bruce Perens [27]
  • 28 October: Based on two 1996 WIPO treaties, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) goes into effect in the United States, criminalising the circumvention of digital restrictions management (DRM). 3-year-long exemptions to specific restrictions can be granted by the Librarian of Congress. [28]


1999

  • 17 February: Open Source Initiative co-founder and Open Source Definition author Bruce Perens warns against overshadowing the Free Software Foundation's efforts and says "Now that the world is watching, it's time for us to start teaching them about Free Software. Notice, I said Free Software, _not_ Open Source." [29]


2000

  • Dyne.org website goes online [30]


2001

  • Creative Commons is founded with support from the Center for the Public Domain [31]


2003

  • 18 June: Barry Kauler releases Puppy Linux 0.1 [32]


2004

  • 5 March: Canonical founded by Mark Shuttleworth [33]
  • 6 April: X11R6.7.0 released, the first from the X.Org Foundation [34]
  • October: Initial release of openSUSE [35]
  • 20 October: Initial release of Ubuntu from Canonical [36]


2005

  • The Open Source Initiative becomes a "truly international organisation" [37]
  • 29 March: Puppy Linux 1.00 released [38]


2006

  • 18 May: Puppy Linux 1.09CE (First Community Edition) released [39]
  • 1 June: Puppy Linux 2.00 released [40]
  • 7 November: Techrights (then Boycott Novell) goes online [41]


2007

  • QuestionCopyright.org founded by Karl Fogel to promote cultural freedom and activism against copyright restriction [42]
  • Puppy Linux 3.01 released [43]


2009

  • "EMACS virgins" news cycle
  • 17 October: Puppy Linux 4.31 released [44]


2011

  • 6 January: Puppy Linux 5.20 released [45]


2012

  • 23 September: Mark Shuttleworth deftly sidesteps the question of whether Ubuntu deserves trust after 12.10 shares local search data with Amazon, by mentioning that it was already trusted up until that point [46]


2014

  • 26 October: Puppy Linux 6.0 (Tahrpup 6.0 CE) released [47]


2015

  • 14 February: Jaromil makes pre-alpha Valentine's Day release of Devuan available for download [48]


2017

  • 20 May: Hyperbola GNU/Linux development begins [49]
  • 25 May: First Stable release of Devuan [50]
  • 4 December: Puppy Linux 7.5 (Xenialpup) released [51]


2018

  • 1 July: Free Media Alliance founded [52]
  • 6 December: Free Software Foundation adds Hyperbola GNU/Linux-libre to list of endorsed distributions [53]
  • 14 December: LibrePlanet petition conflates a couple of minor interruptions (still available on video) made by the organisation's own president with safety issues [54]


2019

  • 18 August - 22 August: "Guarding and Rescuing the FSF Titanic" series published on Techrights [55]
  • September: Richard Stallman attacked by Salesforce, MIT, GNOME, SFC and FSFE for defending late MIT professor/AI research colleague Marvin Minsky on an MIT AI-related mailing list
  • 16 September: Software Freedom Conservancy publishes letter calling for Richard Stallman to "step down from positions of leadership" [56]
  • 16 September: Richard Stallman resigns as president and from board of Free Software Foundation [57]
  • September: Free Software Force publishes letter defending Richard Stallman [58]
  • September: Richard Stallman's personal website tampered with to make it appear as though he resigned as leader of the GNU Project
  • October: GNU Guix petition calls for Stallman to resign as head of the GNU project.
  • For an unknown duration, FSF is preventing/censoring pro-Stallman emails from their mailing lists

2020

  • February: Alexandre Oliva censored by LibrePlanet organisers [59]
  • February: FSF Vice President refers to what is going on at FSF as a coup / "not a coup!" [60]
  • 29 February: Free Media Alliance disbands [61]
  • 5 August: FSF Treasurer Geoffrey Knauth becomes the second-ever FSF president [62]



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