084 – Keep your hat on – 1994

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I’ve finally learned what upward compatible means.
It means we get to keep all our old mistakes.  Dennie van Tassel

Bob Young, a Canadian, and Marc Ewing, an American graduated from Carnegie Mellon University.   Young formed the ACC Corp’n as a mail-order catalogue business offering UNIX and Linux products.

Ewing had been renowned for wearing a red hat as he moved between classes; it was his grandfather’s lacrosse hat.  He became recognised as an expert in computing matters and many at CMU were told to ‘ask the man in the red hat’ if they had a problem.

 July 1994 Ewing developed his own Linux system called Red Hat Linux.  The two got together as Red Hat Software.  Its original product was Red Hat Linux which was offered as free software but with a charge for any support.

October 1994 – The 1.09 version of the software was widely available; it became known as the Halloween version, released under the GNU GPL licence.

It was Red Hat and several other initiatives that ensured Linux became one of the fastest-growing operating systems.  It was adopted by many businesses, mainly to avoid the Microsoft licence fees, and was soon supported by many developers who successfully ported it to many platforms and quickly ensured it was compatible with new processors and other hardware releases.

1997 – Ewing was on the 86Open project steering committee which featured many of those involved in open-source software – Linus Torvalds, Bruce Perens, Keith Bostic, John ‘maddog’ Hall…

August 1999 – Red Hat went public, recording the eighth largest first day gain on Wall Street.  Not bad – an operation selling free software valued at $3bn!  It was looking to raise between $60m and $72m but achieved $84m.

November 1999 – With these proceeds Red Hat went on the acquisition trail, subsuming Cygnus Solutions for its GNU software products, Hell’s Kitchen Systems…

March 2002 – UNIX and Linux packages were combined so they resembled more of a suite of software, à la Windows, resulting in what was called the ‘Red Hat Enterprise Linux’.

Red Hat had evolved through internal development and feedback from its users.  In 2003 it sponsored the Fedora Project.  A community-based open-source project originated in Hawaii in 2002, it promoted free software and content.  The way forward was for the Fedora community to provide code changes to Red Hat Linux.

2005 – Red Hat was listed on the NASDAQ 100 and in 2006 moved to the New York Stock Exchange; by 2009 it was on the Standard & Poor’s 500 list.

February 2009 – Red Hat was shown to be the largest commercial contributor to the Linux kernel.

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