The Great Works of Software

Computer people often talk about products. But each of these five have come to represent something else—an engagement with hard problems that are typically thought to be in the domain of philosophy, literature, or art, rather than programming.
The Great Works of Software, by Paul Ford; Microsoft Office, Photoshop, Pac-Man, Unix, Emacs.

"Access to the collective works of humankind has been a win"

Ken Garrison:  When I was telling my wife about what I was going to be talking with you about, she had a naïve but kind of profound question, which is “Why are you doing this?  Why are you trying to archive the entire world and the entire internet?” 

Brewster Kahle:  It’s really based on an analogy, if you will: that it seemed to work in other times - that the idea of having access to the collective works of humankind has been a win.  So, we all look back to the Library of Alexandria.  And by going and pulling together the works from all over the world and translating them then into Ancient Greek, they were able to come up with fantastic discoveries.  They knew how big the world was.  They knew it was round.  They knew how big it was within a couple percent.  Euclid authored “Elements,” which is what it is I still studied as geometry in high school.  So, fantastic things can come of it if you can leverage the works of other people.  And the reason why I got involved in the whole area of building the library back in 1980 was just kind of on that analogy and the thought that technology allows us to do this and it seems like a good thing to do.

— Interview with Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive from WFMU’s Radio Free Culture, October 9, 2012. (link)