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ACP, One of the Oldest Open Source Apps 102

Esther Schindler writes "The Airline Control Program (ACP), introduced by IBM around 1967, predated the term 'open source' by decades. But you may be surprised by how much of its development resembles the FOSS movement today. The article An Abbreviated History of ACP, One of the Oldest Open Source Applications describes what made it special."
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ACP, One of the Oldest Open Source Apps

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  • OS not DOS (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 21, 2009 @09:06AM (#29145301)

    It was not IBM's DOS that inspired _The Mythical Man Month_. It was IBM's OS.

    They cobbled together DOS because OS was so late.

    OS is now z/OS.

    DOS is now z/VSE.

  • FOSS? Not sure (Score:3, Informative)

    by filesiteguy ( 695431 ) <> on Friday August 21, 2009 @09:16AM (#29145385) Homepage
    Interesting article to be sure -

    However, I'm not sure this really qualifies as OSS or FOSS software. You really couldn't run it on any other system and there was a very closed community of heavy-smoking computer people who were able to run or modify this.

    I did find it cool that the article mentioned -The Mythical Man-Month which I'm reading right now. Funny how different - yet the same - software development is some fourty years later.
  • Re:OS not DOS (Score:5, Informative)

    by Spiked_Three ( 626260 ) on Friday August 21, 2009 @09:57AM (#29145779)
    Agreed - DOS had nothing to do with it.

    But dont forget VM, the first virtualization OS that I know of - and I dont know much about non-ibm computers of that time - but it came out of the necessity of the people who started running DOS while waiting for OS to get finished, and then couldnt afford 2 computers to run simultaneously while they migrated from DOS to OS. and of course, it is now z/VM - and more often used as part of the hardware microcode providing hardware partitioning.

    All early IBM OSs had the source freely available, DOS, OS and VM. I do not think the license restricted redistribution either, since it was available freely from the vendor. The OSs did not become 'licensed' until IBM got tired of supplying the OS for competing hardware - Amdal - and in my mind you can blame the entire software licensing mess of today on a hardware vendor too lazy to write (significant portions of) its own software, and mostly interested in hardware only profits (wow, sounds vaguely familiar even today).

    Anyhow, I was one of those geeky systems programmer guys, making operating system level changes to source code - I never saw it as open source movement though, just something we did to make the OS better fit our needs. 90% of what we needed could be done with vendor supplied 'hooks' that we shimmed in our 'exits' at. I wish more of that kind of thing still existed in all OSs.
  • Ummm, Spacewar!? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Friday August 21, 2009 @10:00AM (#29145813) Homepage

    "open source" was the norm for almost all programs in the 1960s. Spacewar was certainly as open as ATP, or more so by most definitions (no commercial claims at all), and was released in 1962. Source code for earlier games, like Nim and Wumpus, were widely available as well.

    This author appears to be committing the sin of omission, conflating his IBM-centric experience with the wider world.


  • by toby ( 759 ) * on Friday August 21, 2009 @10:39AM (#29146149) Homepage Journal

    IBM had the SHARE organisation [] since 1955. []

    In other words, the open source philosophy has been part of IBM's DNA [] since before most of us were born.

  • Re:Ummm, Spacewar!? (Score:2, Informative)

    by mrisaacs ( 59875 ) on Friday August 21, 2009 @10:54AM (#29146311)

    I did say rare - not unknown.

    The universities and some companies were good about accepting changes and re-issuing,

    I did get a lot of card decks and paper tape while I was in college (early '70s) and at my first couple of employers(same time frame), but a lot of it came 3rd hand or later, and there may not have even been an indication of where it originated from.

    Also a lot of the software came along with a programmer (that is, when someone joined the staff they brought code.) it may not have been theirs originally, they might not know the originator - and at that time another fork would take place - you'd copy it and make your own revisions, which might or might not get incorporated back into the code from the provider. You might encounter variants of the code later at other organizations, and they would be vastly different (not necessarily better) that your own version.

If you want to put yourself on the map, publish your own map.