From our phones to our laptops to our cars, software is an integral but largely invisible part of our daily lives. How did these intangible things called computer programs become not just ubiquitous, but big moneymakers for their creators? In this episode, Gerardo Con Diaz takes us back in time to when programs were not so intangible, and explains the different strategies that computer firms pursued to turn programs into profitable inventions.
Patents turned out to be central to this story, and companies waged legal and economic battles to decide what intellectual property protections software should have. From the days of rejiggering cables and circuitry to the more abstract era of linguistic programming, Con Diaz explains how a history of software patenting helps us better understand the tech marketplace of today.
Banner image: MCI Communications Corporation, Hagley Digital Archive