Open Source, the real beginning.

In this article I use Open Source in its broadest sense, (i.e. not consistent with the specific licensing defined by, but meaning my experience in using other peoples source or developing source for others to use.   In particular I wanted to give examples of where the concept of Open Source had it been so visible then, would have suited some of my projects.


My computing true home has, and always will, be VMS.  As a VMS systems integrator I learned rapidly to admire the power, elegance and consistency of the system, its ‘conceptual integrity’ if you will.   It’s this history of VMS that made it so difficult to admire Unix, which by contrast has always seemed lacking in that same ‘conceptual integrity’, to stretch a point, always seeming to have been assembled rather than architected.


It’s also that history of VMS that first attracted me to Windows NT, (the development of VMS was led by a team from Digital who worked extensively on VMS).  Having been repelled by DOS and Windows, I was excited by the prospect of NT but ended up being left gaping at the lost opportunity, (still not realised today).  I was truly shocked to read the early history of NT and discover the neglect of that sacred VMS like architectural vision for the platform as a whole.


This neglect seems to have been caused by two key issues


  • the focus that Dave Cutler and his team had on the kernel at the expense of everything else
  • the need to achieve compatibility with the DOS/Windows/OS2 legacy. 

Had Bill Gates recruited a different, or at least more balanced, part of the Digital VMS team the world might be a very different place.  Of course, pre-Linux,  I realise that the Unix community saw a similar lost opportunity seeing the progressive dominance of the inferior NT and MAC/OS, (now corrected), whilst the superior Unix was increasingly marginalised.


It’s through Digital that I first experienced the web and deployed by first Intranet and obtained my first CD full of Open Source, (actually GNU), software tools and utilities, (for VMS).

Steve Richards

I'm retired from work as a business and IT strategist. now I'm travelling, hiking, cycling, swimming, reading, gardening, learning, writing this blog and generally enjoying good times with friends and family

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