Historical Perspective on the Origin of the Open Source Movement and comparing the Open Source Engineering and Steam Engines Engineering

Part I: As an Introduction for this seminar, we want to look back at the origin of the Open Source Movement and trace its evolution until the present day. The main focus is to be laid on ideas, philosophies and people that founded this new kind of doing software engineering as well as the places, documents, manifestos, promoters and political fights that shaped what has become known as Open Source.

Part II: I discovered this paper by chance and maybe it holds enough interesting contents for a second topic of historical quality. Nuvolari (2003) tries a historical look onto the development of steam engines in England to find parallels with the collective invention that is part of the open source movement. Another interesting paper by Leveson (1992) then talks about parallels between steam engines and software engineering with a more specific focus on safety. Comparing these two papers in the way they use historical analogies to promote their agenda and finding strong and weak points in their arguments (the analogies are a little forced at some points) and building a coherent historical comparison between the three kinds of engineering will be the main focus of this seminar topic.


History Financing Project Management Copyright, literary property, knowledge "Softwarepatente" Open Source Software Licensing Open Source and Germany More Open Source Links Steam Engines

Outline (v1.0)

  1. Introduction
  2. Definition
  3. History
  4. Financing
  5. Copyright
  6. Intellectual Property
  7. GNU-Project
  8. Linux
  9. Mozilla
  10. Open Source in Germany
  11. Bibliography


e-Mail: thermes@inf.fu-berlinNOSPAM.de (remove NOSPAMXXX before sending an e-Mail)


16.01.2005 Adding Outline 09.01.2005 Creating this page


Given content…

Key Questions on Part I:

  • How, when and why has the Open Source movement been created?
  • Who produced, promoted or hindered the ideas from spreading?
  • Which critical dates, products and events can be linked to the development of Open Source.
  • Which different opinions did exist and how did the influence the resulting structures?

Key Questions on Part II:

  • How can parallels be drawn between Open Source Engineering and Steam Engine Engineering?
  • Do these parallels stand the test of critical investigation?
  • What are the differences if we try to apply the same comparison to traditional Software Engineering?
  • How do other kinds of engineering measure up when comparing them to OSS and traditional software engineering?

References on Part I:

  • Sam Williams, 2002. Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman's Crusade for Free Software. O'Reilly, ISBN: 0-596-00287-4 (Online-Version)
  • Chris DiBona, Sam Ockman and Mark Stone (eds.), 1999. Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution. O'Reilly, ISBN: 1-565-92582-3 (Online-Version)
  • Eric S. Raymond, 2001. The Cathedral & the Bazaar: Musings on Linux and Open Source by an Accidental Revolutionary. O'Reilly, ISBN: 0-596-00108-8 (Teile als Online-Version verfügbar)

References on Part II:

  • Alessandro Nuvolari, 2003. Open Source Software Development: Some Historical Perspectives. Eindhoven Centre for Innovation Studies. (PDF, 220kb)
  • Nancy G. Leveson, 92. High Pressure Steam Engines and Computer Software - In Proceedings of the ICSE 92. (PDF, 160kb)