`Free' Software Readily Available in Large Quantities / Developed by Aspiring Programmers out on Their Own

By Graff, John | THE JOURNAL RECORD, May 15, 1985 | Go to article overview

`Free' Software Readily Available in Large Quantities / Developed by Aspiring Programmers out on Their Own


Graff, John, THE JOURNAL RECORD


Free software, that in some cases surpasses the quality of that available for sale from your local retailer, is becoming available in large quantities. If you buy software with personal fundsand haven't taken advantage of Freeware, you've either wasted your money or need more software.

Freeware, also called Shareware, typically has been developed by aspiring programmers who quit jobs with big Fortune 500 companies and strike out on their own with an idea for a software package.

Having developed a product and needing a way to distribute it they prepare a message that usually goes something like this: "I worked really hard on this program and I need money. If you can send me some money, then I'll be happy to make more programs like this and make more updates for this otherwise I'll have to go back to my boring job."

They range from an appeal for money to quasi-extortion citing "legal obligation" to send money for this program. Freeware is quite often the most overlooked part of the computer industry, with new Shareware products rarely getting reviewed.

What follows is a description of some of the major Shareware programs available for the IBM PC. While I see growing evidence of Shareware for the Macintosh, that's for another time.

PC File III, a creation of Jim Button, is a data base program along the lines of PFS File. It's extremely easy to use and comes highly recommended for doing simple things with data bases likenames and address files. Its a successor to a long line of PC Files, and as such is as close as a program can get to being bug-free.

Button takes the approach that he is really distributing a demonstration version of the program free of charge. If you want support and a complete manual, you are encouraged to send him money.

PC Calc, also from Buttonware, is no more than a mediocre spreadsheet, nowhere along the lines of Lotus 123. However, good enough for some applications and definitely beats doing without.

On a positive note it does integrate with another Buttonware program. A just released PC Graph with PC File and PC Calc create a poor-man's integrated software package.

Qmodem is in many ways the best communications software available, and is available only as a Freeware product. It resembles PC Talk, the original Shareware program which started the whole "try now, pay-if-you-like-it" concept in software distribution.

Also available as Freeware are Ultra Utilities, which are so similar to Peter Norton's for-sale that I have not even considered the purchase of the Norton package. Ultra Utilities provide for"unerase" and several other disk management features including the capability to "unhide" a file that may be hidden by the disk operating system.

This feature was removed from Norton's software because he feared it would aid in pirating. …

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