Thomas Edison introduced the world to electricity in 1879 with great fanfare. In contrast, the world hardly noticed when, more than 25 years later, in 1904, a gentleman named Harvey Hubbell was awarded a government patent for his "separable plug." Hubbell, more interested in practicality than PR, wanted to create a product that would eliminate the need to wire all appliances into a building's central power supply. The patent application stated that Hubbell's plug and corresponding socket would allow "persons having little or no electrical knowledge or skill" to connect the growing number of electrical appliances.1
With its quiet emergence in the 1980s, the open source movement has followed a similar trajectory, eschewing marketing fanfare in favor of creating a more practical, democratic way to distribute technology. The open source revolution makes technology available to everyone and anyone - enabling the community to benefit from the creativity of the whole, resulting in a high quality product that is "self-policed" by a group of committed contributors.
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