Subject: Re: compatibility and the OSD
From: Michael Sparks <>
Date: Wed, 29 Sep 2004 01:02:37 +0100 (BST)

On Tue, 28 Sep 2004, Marius Amado Alves wrote:
> I myself did open source and *used the term* long before 1997.

This comment made me ponder searching google groups (not to check what
*you* say, but to see what people were generally saying). I can find a few
references in 1996 to open source, and described as open source code, and
the poster expected to be understood, so the concept & phrase existed
before '97.  Example:

However the common usage at that time and earlier refers to a source of
information that is out in the open, and some usages of "open source code"
from then are referring to that style of meaning.  Personally I prefer to
equate open source with the OSD since it massively simplifies discussions.
However under usage prior to the OSD (uncommon usage though by the looks
of this) being written "open source"  essentially meant anytime you could
see the source in a public forum.

It's interesting to compare this (the fact that the term was in use in '96
and earlier in both a free software perspective and others) with the
definitions here:

Which are from FOLDOC and the Jargon File.

Personally I think *these days* it is misleading to represent things as
open source which don't comply with the OSD, but IMO they are two distinct
things. But, however misleading it might be I don't think *demanding*
people change their wording is the right thing to do. (I'm not saying
anyone has been demanding... :) Requesting a change in wording in the name
of trying to have a nice and clear world for people choosing software I
think is a good thing. (Indeed different concepts using different phrases
is a good thing when it comes to licenses, and benefits everyone really)

Oddly this does mean the Jargon File (as quoted) is wrong when it says
"open source" was coined in March 1998. It clearly wasn't - it just wasn't
*widely* used AFAICT.