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Open source software development: Some historical perspectives

by Alessandro Nuvolari


In this paper we suggest that historical studies of technology can help us to account for some, perplexing (at least for traditional economic reasoning) features of open source software development. From a historical perspective, open source software seems to be a particular case of what Robert C. Allen has termed "collective invention." We explore the interpretive value of this historical parallel in detail, comparing open source software with two remarkable episodes of nineteenth century technical advances.