The History of Open Sourcing

Science as we know it did not exist in the early 17th century. In fact, the term ‘Scientist’ wasn’t coined until much later down the line in 1833. Society was made up of Philosophers and Mathematicians, none of whom referred to themselves as ‘Scientists’. Regardless of titles and names, scientific methods of research were being applied and the creation, and subsequent testing of their hypothesise were creating some interesting results.

However, ‘Philosophers-going-on-scientists’ kept many more secrets than today’s scientist, the biggest of which being the scientific methods behind their results. Individual learnings were not shared with the scientific community, everyone knew different things at different times, and this stifled the progression of science.

All that changed in 1662. The ‘Philosophical Transactions’ was the first ever scientific journal. As well as listing the researcher’s results, it also detailed the methods behind their findings – empowering everyone to learn and build from them. In essence, was the creation of open sourcing, and pathed the way for multiple scientific breakthroughs that have bettered our world.

Fast forward nearly three hundred and fifty years and the Internet is in its embryonic stage, but not in the form that we know it. The University of Minnesota had created a campus-wide information system called ‘Gopher’. The system was rapidly gaining traction and had more traffic than the ‘world wide web’ that Tim Berners Lee had created. But Gopher started to charge a small fee, restricting the user base to those who were willing to pay, Gopher was now a closed loop with limited scalability. Tim Berners Lee, unlike Gopher, made his system free and accessible to anyone, on any browser, using any computer. He open sourced his creation and in doing so, created the internet as we know it.

Present day, and the world is set to change again. Amidst the carbon crisis and all that it threatens; one company, and in particular, one man stands out as being the next ‘game changer’ – Elon Musk of Tesla. Earlier this year, after admitting that It is would be impossible for Tesla to build electric cars fast enough to address the carbon crisis, Musk destroyed all of Tesla’s patents and open sourced the entirety of their technology. Not only will this accelerate the growth of sustainable transport, but the growth of sustainable energy itself.

Open sourcing has changed the realms of science, technology and is on course to change the world of energy. The only question is, what is next?

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