3Pirated BASIC Will Kill Software Development!
Up until the mid-70s, software wasn't really a business. Games and applications were typically coded out by hobbyists for their own entertainment or to be shared at meetings with like-minded individuals and their long, luxurious beards. Back then, the computer everyone had to have was the Altair 8800, which was basically just a big baffling hunk of metal which was operated more by astrology and black ritual than user input. You see, the Altair had no keyboard, no monitor, no disk drive - just four kilobytes of memory, a line of lights and some corresponding switches that turned the lights on and off.
It wasn't until some scrawny nobody named Bill Gates and his friend Paul developed a language program for it that its potential began to truly shine. And moments after they did so, suddenly every arrow-collared, bell-bottomed neckbeard seemed to have a copy. But virtually none of them paid for it.
The thieves argued that the program was written on a government-funded computer, so why should they pay for software that's basically just subsidized by their tax dollars?
Bill Gates voiced his dissatisfaction with this argument in his now legendary bitchfest "The Open Letter To Hobbyists." The pre-billionaire Gates pointed out that for some reason, everybody knew not to steal a computer, but considered software free for the taking (he complained that they earned less than $2 an hour for their work on the software, because so few people paid for it). If this continues, Gates argued, why will anybody write software?
Pirates were undeterred. It didn't take long for hackers to work out ways to trade warez electronically: Early transactions were made through bulletin board systems. These worked similar to the way the modern Internet works... if you had to directly call up each website with your modem and politely request every byte with a cordial handwritten note.
So, decades later, in an industry where piracy is still rampant and yet a fair amount of software still seems to get written, what became of the major anti-piracy advocates? Well, let's refer back to that earliest and most vocal detractor: Bill Gates.
He now admits that piracy of its biggest product has actually expanded its market in countries like China, going so far as to say: "As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours."
And, come on, look at the damage software piracy has done. If only everybody had paid for their copies, poor Bill Gates might still have a job today... instead of retiring to literally ski everywhere he goes on gigantic drifts of dollars.
2The Cassette Will Kill Music! Again!
The RIAA absolutely hates your iPod. They hate it like it personally came into their homes and urinated on their sick grandmothers. They want that thing dead, and it's easy to see why: Digital music is a new development that enables stealing on a mass scale with little to no consequences. It must be stopped at all costs! Of course, we've been fed this same bucket of stupid before; the bucket was just a different color last time. Also a little clunkier, and it made clicking noises when it got old:
The Walkman. Don't ask, "What's that?" Get off our lawn, you punk kids!
The Sony Walkman was invented in 1978, jump-starting the 80s, which some of us remember as the greatest decade in the history of music. Some of us were also on a lot of cocaine for pretty much the whole thing. There might be a relationship between the two clauses.
But it didn't take long before the music industry started claiming the loss of a (completely unverifiable) billion dollars a year from people taping their favorite tracks off the radio for free.
At this very moment, there is a shaggy hipster screen-printing this exact image.
This created the massive ball of wadded up panties that was the Home Taping Is Killing The Music Industry movement. The counterpoint to this alarmism, that sharing music on cassettes was a good way to gain exposure for up-and-coming acts and would increase sales (sound familiar?) was dismissed as the mere attempt by criminals to justify their crimes. The record industry's single biggest money-makers of the last several decades were spawned exactly by the tape-exchange culture, and you can hear its influence in modern music every minute of every day: The sample.
Without home taping, we might not have the rap industry we do today. And without the rap industry we have today, the RIAA would certainly not have that diamond-encrusted turbo-jet they fly to their court-hearings in, and we're almost positive they couldn't afford the law services of Satan himself to win them.