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People were taking a chance. This doesn't make code readily availabe to regular people. Hobbyist code, with due respect to those hackers^Wexperimentors, is...
Barb then replied:
As others have said, the BSDs were available in the early 1990s despite the copyright battle going on. I'm afraid I didn't know this myself, so it might be that you had to had a lot of contacts in the business to know about it. You definitely had a point there.
There was, however, also a lot of source code available for tools such as buttemblers and compilers, albeit of a hobbyist nature, from bulletin boards. In Sweden, the BBS scene really exploded in the late 1980s and a lot of them had plenty of source code. I believe this explosion in the number of bulletin boards happened a few years earlier in the US.
There was a lot of activivity in the programming oriented Fidonet echos (the dial-up hobbyist network Fidonet's version of Usenet newsgroups), both national and international. I believe a lot of kids learned to program with some help from those echos. I certainly did, but, of course, I learn most by simply sitting down with a text editor and writing code.
This state of affairs in the BBS world declined severly in the 1990s, though, and suddenly BBSes only seemed to be teenage chat areas without the technological ingredients I had loved so much. I don't know where budding hackers could find source at the time, since Internet access was not available if you weren't a faculty brat or already a student.
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On Fri, 16 Jun 06 10:03:33 GMT Yes they were - I first downloaded and installed FreeBSD and NetBSD towards the end of 1993. The downloads were from publicly visible ftp...
By 1991, though, I personally had access to the Internet. Real IP connectivity hit Sweden in 1988 when the Swedish University Network (SUNET) went the TCP-IP way. Previously, it had been a DECNET and, before that, X.25 with some ANF-10 sites.
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On Fri, 16 Jun 2006 15:08:22 +0000 (UTC) FreeBSD 1.x was based on 4.3BSD - there never was a 4.4BSD other than 4.4BSD Lite...
Personally, I only had access to the previous incarnation of SUNET through long distance terminal servers and the guest accounts that, at the time, were ubiquitous. People logged in through the guest accounts were sometimes frowned upon, but the sysadmin's of the time kept the guest accounts open nevertheless.
I bought mine from Ericsson's component laboratory. Iwasa kid, at the time, or, well 19 years old.
I bought my first Unix box when I was 15 (in 1987). It was a Luxor ABC 1600, based on the MC68008, with 1 MiB RAM and a 12.5 MB disk. I got it cheap after it had fiascoed as a workstation alternative. It had an amazing pivot(!) screen of 1024x768.
An OutoftheMain Activity
Michael Widerkrantz Things were comparable in Finland, though I think Finns and Swedes mostly preferred different BBS software packages, for some reason. Much of the Finnish BBS scene aligned with Norwegians and Mike...
I got several offers to get my hands on minicomputers at the time (1987--1990) as well: one Norsk Data ND-100 running Sintran, one PDP-11-xx and something from ITT(?). When I think back I really regret I didn't get that PDP-11 (I had an 11-23+ much later, though, but SWMBO version 1 made me lose most of my retro gear).
Today, I'm trying to teach my own sons (now 11 and 13 years old) to program. I have made a small series of lessons in programming in the Python programming language. So far, the youngest is more interested than the elder.