Origins of Shareware Popularity


The story of shareware brings back early 80’s with an initiative of sharing free software among users of IBM PCs. Now this initiative developed in a huge industry with millions assets.

How did it start?

Two people, Jim Button and Andrew Fluegleman, authors of PC-File database and PC-Talk – communication program have started the whole process of shareware. The decision to promote content of each other appeared when they figured out that they use the same way of promoting content being unfamiliar with each other.

At first, completely free service shared software with users, though the development of software almost stopped as there was no possibility to both create software and maintain the service updated. That is why afterwards 20 dollars donate appeared on scene to help the development of programs.

Despite the fact that one of the founders of the service trademarked the term freeware, the term shareware established by one of the computer magazines soon become very popular. Moreover, it turned out that the term was also used by Bob Wallace, the author of program PC-Write long before the word became a mainstream.

What are the reasons of shareware success?

  • At the very beginning of the PC era the computer clubs gained huge popularity and they collected shareware to offer their members
  • Positive publications helped spreading of free programs
  • There was no need to buy a software from store
  • It is a low cost product
  • Users got the shareware for free and then upgraded it at a small fee
  • It is the more effective way for authors to offer the programs as shareware

The shareware is considered to be the first time when authors could hope to get at least small amounts of money for their products that were usually distributed by pirate distribution networks.

With development of the Internet and the progress of the credit card system users received a possibility to purchase software from the Internet directly.

Implementation of the newest technologies and its rapid development makes shareware the most attractive to investors.