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Salon.com: Radio Free Software

Dec 19, 2002, 01:00 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Sam Williams)

"It's the vision that elicited a beatific smile from Alan Turing, a Bela Lugosi-like cackle from John von Neumann, and a cannabis-tinged giggle from 1970s-era PC creators: Imagine a universal machine, a computation device capable of mimicking the functionality of any other machine.

"OK, now imagine the looks of terror on the faces of existing machine makers. Imagine if the only thing stopping your handheld PDA from simultaneously being a GPS receiver, phone, radio or miniature TV was your willingness to download and install some free software program.

"For Eric Blossom, founder of the GNU Radio project, the vision plays itself over and over again, like a Möbius film strip. An electrical engineer by trade, Blossom knows better than most the thin barriers that separate one person's garage-door opener from another person's global positioning satellite receiver. He also knows the proprietary barriers that hinder technological innovation. Rather than curse those walls, Blossom has decided to gut the floor plan entirely with the help of free software. Sony, Philips and Nokia be damned..."

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