Aug 26, 2016

Yes, your observations make a lot of sense. You are right about the industry trying to make money by selling compiler's and development tools.

For perspective, I've programmed since well before the first personal computers. When they came out I had to buy compilers and development tools from Microsoft, Borland, and others (for the Apple systems and MS-DOS and early Windows) in order to program at home. I estimate that is cost me thousands of dollars over the years; I even had to buy Emacs-like editors so I could program on a PC. Around 1985 I bought Epsilon from Lugaru Software, its a nice Emacs-like editor still sold today!! I always wonder how profitable that product has been over the last thirty years.

Because I wanted do do document preparation on something other than Word I ended up buying a number of word processors (XYWrite, WordPerfect, MS Word for MSDOS); finally, I found a MSDOS markup based system by Mark of the Unicorn (which now sells high end Midi audio gear[2]). Mark of the Unicorn's markup system was based on Scribe (described in Brian Reid's influential CMU PhD 1980 dissertation[3] for which he won the ACM Grace Murray Hopper Award) that ran on PC's.

My first personal Unix system was a Dec Workstation, I think it cost me over $20,000 in 1990 for disk drive (maybe 300MB), monitor, and computer!! I put it to good use doing consulting and development, but nevertheless I am so so grateful to the open-source community for gcc, freebsd, linux, tex, and every other tool I use not just because it doesn't cost me as much to try out new things but because it has made it possible for people all over the world to access the power of computers.