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HandWiki. Timeline of Open-Source Software. Encyclopedia. Available online: (accessed on 14 April 2024).
HandWiki. Timeline of Open-Source Software. Encyclopedia. Available at: Accessed April 14, 2024.
HandWiki. "Timeline of Open-Source Software" Encyclopedia, (accessed April 14, 2024).
HandWiki. (2022, December 02). Timeline of Open-Source Software. In Encyclopedia.
HandWiki. "Timeline of Open-Source Software." Encyclopedia. Web. 02 December, 2022.
Timeline of Open-Source Software

This article presents a timeline of events related to popular free/open-source software. For a narrative explaining the overall development, see the related history of free and open-source software. The Achievements column documents achievements a project attained at some point in time (not necessarily when it was first released).

free and open-source free/open-source development

1. 1970s

Date Project Event Achievements
1976 Emacs The original EMACS was a set of Editor MACroS for the TECO editor written in 1976 by Richard Stallman, initially together with Guy L. Steele Jr. Later in 1984 the GNU Emacs was released under a GNU General Public License.[1] Longest continuously-developed GNU project

2. 1980s

Date Project Event Achievements
1982 TeX Originally written by Donald Knuth in 1978, the new version of TeX was rewritten from scratch and was published in 1982.[2] One of the longest continuously-developed open source projects
1983, September GNU Project Announced by Richard Stallman on Usenet as a project to create a "Free Unix"[3] Became the standard userland for Linux (c. 1991); USENIX Lifetime Achievement Award (2001)
1984 X Window System X originated at MIT in 1984. The current protocol version, X11, appeared in September 1987. The X.Org Foundation now leads the X project, with the current reference implementation, Server, available as free software under the MIT License and similar permissive licenses. Most popular windowing system implementation for desktop Linux and all Unix operating systems, excluding Mac OS X
1985 Free Software Foundation Founded by Richard Stallman to support Free Software projects and issue revisions to key software licenses, notably the GPL Prix Ars Electronica (2005)
1987 GCC Written by Richard Stallman with contributions from others as the C compiler for the GNU Project. Later the project would be known as the GNU Compiler Collection.  
1987 Perl Perl, the dynamic programming language was created by Larry Wall and first released in 1987.  

3. 1990s

Date Project Event Achievements
1991 Linux kernel Started by Linus Torvalds, Since the initial release of its source code in 1991, it would grow from a small number of C files under a license prohibiting commercial distribution to its state in 2007 of about 290 megabytes of source under the GNU General Public License. Many, including: Most popular kernel used by top 500 supercomputers. Most popular kernel in mobile devices sold in 2013.
1991 Python First released by Guido van Rossum in 1991.  
1992 386BSD 386BSD was written mainly by Berkeley alumni Lynne Jolitz and William Jolitz. The 386BSD releases made to the public beginning in 1992.  
1992 Samba Andrew Tridgell developed the first version of Samba in 1992, at the Australian National University.  
1993, March NetBSD The project began as a result of frustration within the 386BSD developer community with the pace and direction of the operating system's development. The four founders of the NetBSD project were Chris Demetriou, Theo de Raadt, Adam Glass and Charles Hannum.  
1993, Dec FreeBSD FreeBSD's development began in 1993 with a quickly growing, unofficial patchkit maintained by users of the 386BSD operating system.The first official release was FreeBSD 1.0 in December 1993.  
1993 Wine Bob Amstadt (the initial project leader) and Eric Youngdale started the project in 1993 as a way to run Windows applications on Linux. Now able to run vast numbers of Windows applications and video games
1994, March Linux Journal First issue of the first computer magazine dedicated to Linux.  
1995, June PHP Originally created by Rasmus Lerdorf in 1994, it was released publicly on June 1995. Formed part of the most popular web development stack (LAMP) in the 1990s and 2000s
1995 GIMP Created by Spencer Kimball and Peter Mattis, the project originally stood for General Image Manipulation Program. Used by Hollywood, in the forked form of CinePaint (formerly known as Film Gimp)
1995 Ruby Created by Yukihiro Matsumoto, the programming language drew greater attention in the 2000s due to the Ruby on Rails web development framework Became extremely popular with internet startups
1996 Apache The first version of the Apache web server was created by Robert McCool, who was heavily involved with the NCSA web server, known simply as NCSA HTTPd. Most popular web server
1996 KDE KDE was founded in 1996 by Matthias Ettrich, who was then a student at the Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen.  
1997, August GNOME The initial project leaders for GNOME were Miguel de Icaza and Federico Mena.  
1999, August Originally developed as the proprietary software application suite StarOffice by the German company StarDivision, the code was purchased in 1999 by Sun Microsystems. The code was made available free of charge in August 1999. On July 19, 2000, Sun Microsystems announced that it was making the source code of StarOffice available for download under both the LGPL and the Sun Industry Standards Source License (SISSL)  

4. 2000s

Date Project Event Achievements
2000 LLVM Compiler toolkit, started at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. Initially a research project and known as "Low-Level Virtual Machine". Adopted by Apple as their primary compilation platform for Mac OS X
2001 Free Software Foundation Europe Founded to support free software and oppose software patents in Europe Theodor Heuss Medal (2010)
2002 Blender Formerly proprietary software, released as open source in 2002 after a crowdfunding campaign  
2002 MediaWiki There was no name for the project, until the Wikimedia Foundation was announced in June 2003, when name MediaWiki was coined by a Wikipedia contributor. Integral to the development of Wikipedia
2003, February New Zealand Open Source Society New Zealand Open Source Society (NZOSS), a non-profit organization and incorporated society began with a suggestive letter by David Lane to the government, along with 400 supporters signatures to begin the advancement of open software in New Zealand.  
2003, April Firefox Descended from the Mozilla Application Suite, the project started as an experimental branch of the Mozilla Project. Originally titled Phoenix, then renamed as Firebird, the project was finally named Mozilla Firefox. The version 1.0 was released on November 9, 2004. Second most popular web browser in the world
2005 Git Created by Linux founder Linus Torvalds World's most popular distributed revision control system
2008, September Chromium Released by Google Forms the majority of the code in Google Chrome, the most popular web browser in the world
2008 Android Released by Google Most popular mobile platform in the world
2009 Chromium OS Released by Google Has since enjoyed popular use in types of devices known as Chromebooks and Chromeboxes

By the 2000s the number of open source software packages in wide use was so large that it would be infeasible to make a definitive list.

5. 2010s

Date Project Event Achievements
March 2010 Linaro Founded  
2010 LibreOffice LibreOffice is released; a free open office suite including applications such as word processing, spreadsheets, drawing and database. Available in over 100 languages.
2010 Android Becomes most popular smartphone operating system (OS),[4] later became most popular general purpose OS overall.  
2011 Git Microsoft survey of 1,000 software developers reveals that Git is the most popular revision control system among developers[5]  
2011 Bootstrap Free CSS and JavaScript development starting kit, released by Twitter Becomes most popular repository on GitHub (2012)
2012 Google Chrome, based on Chromium Overtakes Internet Explorer to become most widely used web browser, according to StatCounter  
2013 Firefox OS Mobile phone operating system, released by Mozilla Foundation  
2013 (Q2) Android Overtakes iOS to become most popular tablet operating system[6]  
2013, September SteamOS Valve Corporation's new Linux-based operating system for its Steambox consoles, intended to promote Linux gaming and spread Linux adoption in the high-end video game sector  


  1. Yu-wei, Lin (June 2005), "Epistemologically Multiple Actor-Centred System: or EMACS at Work!", System Design Frontier 2 (6): pp. 25–35,, retrieved 2013-04-21. 
  2. Beebe, Nelson H. F. (2003), "25 Years of TEX and METAFONT: Looking Back and Looking Forward", TUGboat 25 (1): pp. 7–30,, retrieved 2013-04-21. 
  3. Richard Stallman. "new Unix implementation".!msg/net.unix-wizards/8twfRPM79u0/1xlglzrWrU0J. 
  4. Hachman, Mark (2010-10-05). "Nielsen: Android Is Most Popular Smartphone OS | News & Opinion".,2817,2370259,00.asp. Retrieved 2013-08-12. 
  5. Ravi Mandalia (20 July 2011). "Microsoft Survey Reveals GitHub, Git Most Popular among Developers". IT Pro Portal. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 
  6. Devin Coldewey (27 September 2013). "Android overtakes iPad in tablet race". NBC News. Retrieved 28 September 2013. 
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