International Shareware Day
The second Saturday of December is observed annually as International Shareware Day. Shareware is software that is available free of charge and is often distributed through informal channels so that the end user can evaluate whether they want to purchase it or not. Many of these programs will then require a fee if the user wants to continue using them.
It was a popular way of distributing games during the 1990s, with some of the greatest PC shareware games being Doom (1993), Wolfenstein 3D (1992), and Duke Nukem 3D (1996). Of course, utilities such as Skype, WinZip, and Adobe Acrobat are among some of the popular shareware programs nowadays.
The History of International Shareware Day
This holiday was created at the height of the Shareware Era in 1995 by David Lawrence—a tech talk show host and former actor. During the 1990s, shareware was extremely popular. It allowed people to try out expensive programs first before having to shell out hundreds of dollars for them.
The rise of Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) allowed shareware authors to quickly and effectively distribute their software. Some BBSs, such as Fire Escape’s BBS or The Cave BBS, had hundreds of shareware programs that people could download through their modem.
One of the first shareware programs to be distributed was PC-Talk III (1983). This program is widely believed to have started the shareware revolution through modem-to-modem file sharing on the IBM PC platform. With the rise of Bulletin Board Systems in the ’90s, other programs were created and soon became popular. These include WinZip (1991), WinRAR (1995), and WinAmp (1997).
After the creation and rise of the World Wide Web, shareware began to lose some of its popularity. This is because the Web allowed software companies to sell directly to consumers electronically.
People could visit a software developer’s website, pay with a debit or credit card, and then download their software. The rise of “demo” and “trialware” software also hastened the end of the Shareware Era—although it should be said that shareware is still available and will continue to be well into the future.
Observing International Shareware Day
Everyone can take the time to celebrate shareware and its impact on society during this holiday. This can be done by learning more about the history of shareware, BBSs, and the World Wide Web.
People can also try out some of the original shareware programs of the 1990s, although they will most likely need an emulator to use many of them. And finally, people can use the hashtag #InternationalSharewareDay on social media to spread the word about this fun holiday. Now, let’s all go play some Duke Nukem 3D. Hail to the king, baby!