Programmer’s Luck

Antonio, a university computer science major, created one of the first music player programs for Mac. With his software, one could play CDs, mp3 files, make playlists, and all the things you’d want from music playing software. He gave it away, along with the source code, so anyone could douwnload it for free. In the documentation, he added that anyone who uses it for commercial purposes needs to contact him to work out a royalty payment. This is very common in the software world. Most programmers puts notices like this in their software, and these notices are routinely ignored. No one ever actually gets paid any royalties.

A big company came across Antonio’s source code, and from it, they made a Windows equivalent, without bothering to contact him. The Windows eqivalent became very popular and made millions of dollars for the company.

A couple of years after graduating, Antonio was wandering aimlessly along the beach, wondering what he was going to do to earn a living. It was a difficult situation for him because he was currently in Hawaii, where there are no high-tech companies, and he didn’t have enough money for a plane ticket to the mainland.

A fellow, oddly dressed in a suit and tie, but barefoot, came up to him on the beach and asked his name. The fellow said, “I’ve been looking for you. I’m a lawyer and I can make you a lot of money.” He had Antonio sign some papers, then promptly sued the company that stole the software.

Several months later, Antonio had 1.5 million dollars. He helped some friends start a restaurant. He bought very expensive guitars and musical equipment. He spent a some money on drugs. In one of his drug pursuits, he tried some ‘magic mushrooms’ that turned out to be not magical at all. Instead, they made him sick. Very sick. He spent a lot of money on his recovery. Two years after the lawyer found him, the money was all gone. He was wandering aimlessly on the beach again, wondering what he was going to do to earn a living.

 

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