Opinion by Nicholas Petreley, editor in chief at NC World. From "Down to the Wire" column in InfoWorld, 15 December 1997, 19:50. p. 104.

Full piece: http://www.infoworld.com/cgi-bin/displayNew.pl?/petrel/971215np.htm


Programming for passion--not profit--produces high-quality software

The first program I ever wrote was a Star Wars game for an HP67 programmable calculator. The calculator belonged to a friend of mine, Ed Garassi. I'll never forget the blaring sound of Dr. Demento's radio show echoing against the hardwood floors weekend after weekend as we would argue until the wee hours of the morning about the features that should go into the game.

He'd suggest a feature that I knew couldn't be programmed. We'd argue about it until we were both red in the face. There would be a long silence. And then I'd do it. And together we built a remarkably sophisticated game that we played endlessly. ...

O'Reilly and Associates President Tim O'Reilly ... is convinced that free software is where the innovation is taking place... More and more of the advances and innovations in software are taking place where people are programming for passion rather than profit. ... As disorganized and distributed an effort it may be, [free] software advances in Internet time. ... The Web is built on [it.] ...

[There are things I might not have understood] had I not spent those long weekends arguing with Ed Garassi. Neither of us were motivated by salaries or project deadlines. We were motivated by the challenge, the ability to be passionately opposite in our views, and the ability to rethink them. That could be the secret to writing the best software...