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Shareware: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow


Shareware software had a simple premise: You could try the application and if you liked it, you paid for it.

In those halcyon days, the PC software market was still getting its traction. Most programs were expensive—a single application often retailed for $495, in 1980s dollars. Often, they were complex and difficult to use. Then, Jim “Button” Knopf, creator of PC-File, a simple flat database, and Andrew Fluegelman, inventor of the program PC-Talk, a modem interface program, came up with the same idea: share their programs with other users for a voluntary, nominal payment. Knopf and Fluegelman supported each other’s efforts, and a new software marketing and sales model was born. 

Joel Diamond, vice president of the Association of Software Professionals (originally called Association of Shareware Professionals), believes shareware should be recognized as the first version of e-commerce. You can also point to shareware as the ancestor of mobile app development, collaborative development (with philosophies of trust that led to open source), and community support.

Read more at HPE