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Of all of the underdogs and unsung heroes of our generation, computer programmers might be the most unsung of all. Spending hours upon hours in front of their computers daily, looking at screens of line of seemingly random letters, numbers and commands, they spend their lives making our lives better and rarely, if ever, get any sort of recognition for it.

You may not think of it this way, but almost every little thing that you use in your 21st century life is operated by some sort of computer chip running on some sort of computer program that one or more computer programmers spent days on to make sure it worked so it could make your life easier.

The electric windows in your car you can’t remember what life what like before, the blender you use so religiously to make all of your healthy shakes every single day, and that smartphone taxi app that prevents you from getting ripped off every time you come back from a party–these are all based on more or less complicated computer programs that people do their best to avoid paying for, thus stifling the programmers’ efforts.

All in all, I think we can agree that International Shareware Day, a day dedicated to the programmers typing their lives away to make yours easier, is a day that needed to happen.

History of International Shareware Day

The first piece of software called ‘freeware’ was PC-Talk, a telecommunications program created by Andrew Fleugelman in 1982, who called the undertaking “an experiment in economics more than altruism”. The term ‘shareware’ was first used with the program PC-Write (a word processing tool), created and released by Bob Wallace in early 1983.

Few shareware and freeware downloads are ever paid for, which means that the chances of supporting yourself on shareware income as a programmer remains fairly slim. This is particularly unfortunate because this mode of software production has resulted in some wonderful software tools being made available to users around the globe, such as virus protection software, audio or video file players, and much more.

A lack of financial returns also means that many shareware and freeware projects are abandoned instead of being updated; after all, everyone needs to eat and pay rent, and software development is generally not charity work.

How to celebrate International Shareware Day

International Shareware Day was created to remind shareware users about the value they’ve gained through their use of these programs, most of them for free or ridiculously low fees. And to perhaps inspire them, in the spirit of the upcoming festive season especially, to send off a few payments to the authors of their favorite shareware apps. Has a certain antivirus saved you from malware on a number of different occasions?

Have you been using the same program that has never failed you to watch videos or listen to music for the last few years? Show some appreciation! Just as you would leave a tip in a restaurant where the waiter or waitress was courteous, informative and brought your order quickly, so should you reward the efforts of the designers and creators of your favorite programs with a donation, however small. We should remember never to take anything for granted, or we may suddenly fin ourselves paying for every little app and program we need, and we definitely need an increasing amount of them!

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