In 1962, computer scientists and hackers involved in MIT's Project MAC, an early forerunner of the AI Lab, took steps to alleviate this frustration. Time-sharing, originally known as "time stealing," made it possible for multiple programs to take advantage of a machine's operational capabilities. Teletype interfaces also made it possible to communicate with a machine not through a series of punched holes but through actual text. A programmer typed in commands and read the line-by-line output generated by the machine.

Lippman, on the other hand, entertains the possibility. She recalls a few stories from her son's infancy, however, that provide fodder for speculation. A prominent symptom of autism is an oversensitivity to noises and colors, and Lippman recalls two anecdotes that stand out in this regard.

Frustrated, Steele took it upon himself to the solve the problem. He gathered together the four different macro packages and began assembling a chart documenting the most useful macro commands. In the course of implementing the design specified by the chart, Steele says he attracted Stallman's attention.

The German sociologist Max Weber once proposed that all great religions are built upon the "routinization" or "institutionalization" of charisma. Every successful religion, Weber argued, converts the charisma or message of the original religious leader into a social, political, and ethical apparatus more easily translatable across cultures and time.

For the most part, businesses ignored Stallman's entreaties. Still, for a few entrepreneurs, the freedom associated with free software was the same freedom associated with free markets. Take software ownership out of the commercial equation, and you had a situation where even the smallest software company was free to compete against the IBMs and DECs of the world.