Subject: Re: Facts please
From: Rick Moen <>
Date: Tue, 30 Sep 2003 20:05:00 -0700

Quoting Lawrence E. Rosen (

> Does anyone know the year that the University of California first released
> software under the BSD?

Marshall Kirk McKusick says[1] that Bill Joy put out the first release
of the Berkeley Software Distribution in early 1977, because of wide
interest in Berkeley's improvements to the Pascal compiler.  McKusick
says nothing about the licence terms, alas.  Nadav Har'El's "brief
history of BSD UNIX" claims the first release was in 1978, not 1977[2],
as does Warren Toomey's timeline taken from "Life with Unix" and "A
Quarter Century of Unix"[3].  And none of this clarifies when the BSD
licence was adopted.

There's probably an interesting history somewhere there, about exactly
how and when CSRG got the UC Regents' approval for the BSD licence.
We'll have to find some Berkeley greybeard who actually remembers,
because I can find no clarification in any of my sources.

> Does anyone know the year in which Richard Stallman first released the
> GNU system under the GPL?

He says[4] he started work on GNU when he quit his MIT job in 1984 --
but that of course isn't quite the question you're asking.  According to a
"GPL history" page[5], the GPL emerged from Stallman's wrangle with
Unipress Software over rights to use code from now-defunct C-based
Gosling Emacs aka Unipress Emacs.  In 1985[6], he created the GNU Emacs
Public General License[7], probably the first copyleft licence -- albeit
one that prohibited private code forks and sale of modifications, as he
gradually replaced all Gosling code, finishing on July 15, 1985 with v.
16.56[8].  This was followed by something called the GNU GCC General
Public License (not seen by this correspondent).  Finally, author Adam
Brate says[9] that on February 1, 1989, FSF released v. 1 of the GNU
General Public License, to remove the dependency on particular software.

[7]  (1998 revision)

Cheers,     "You have acquired a scroll entitled 'irk gleknow mizk'(n).--More--
Rick Moen    This is an IBM Manual scroll.--More__ You are permanently confused." -- ADOM (a roguelike game)
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