"As Microsoft celebrates its 25th anniversary this month, the
company is unlikely to call attention to another formative event 25
years ago: the day someone stole Bill Gates's software."
"But the heist, now shrouded in equal parts mystery and industry
folklore, gave an early glimpse of the hard-nosed approach Mr.
Gates, Microsoft's chairman, has long taken to the software
business. And the fierce debate that the theft ignited a
quarter-century ago remains relevant today, as the industry engages
in a war of words and lawsuits over whether computer software and
digital information should be bought and sold or freely
"[Software created by Gates and Paul Allen] also almost
immediately set off an ideological debate among the community of
computer hobbyists and hackers: should software be a freely shared
utility or a commercial product? The issue created a deep and
lasting chasm in the computer world that is spreading to virtually
every aspect of today's information economy - including video games
and digitally rendered music and movies."
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