It's often difficult to notice when you're in the midst of making history. Some fine people in San Francisco went about their unremarkable lives in 1967, only to discover years later that they were at ground zero of the "Summer of Love." In the summer and fall of 1999, I spent some time working next door to four noisy, Mountain Dew-swilling misfits working on a renegade project within VA Linux Systems. Little did I know that their efforts would become known as the world's largest open source development site.
I refer, of course, to SourceForge.net, which launched on November 17, 1999. Most people think of SourceForge.net these days as another huge web site with lots of ads, but very few understand its humble beginnings or how challenging it was to even launch the darn thing without the powers-that-be at VA killing it off in a fit of well-intentioned hari kiri. The history and beginnings of SourceForge.net can teach executives and managers today the value of trying crazy things that might (and probably will) fail; of letting your young guns run wild with imagination; and not squashing innovation within your company. Unfortunately, there are also quite a few lessons on how to squandor success, but that's for another day. Today is about SourceForge.net, the site that was before its time and how it came to be.
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