As a writer for various computer publications, I noticed a glaring error in Stewart Brand's otherwise fine Nov. 8 column, "Finding a Balance in the Slippery Economics of an Information Age."
Very few in the software industry would call the distribution of freeware and shareware a "major marketing innovation" or agree that "good money was made."
The late Andrew Fluegelman did fairly well with PC-Talk, an early communications program, and there are a few other examples. But for the most part, the concept has been a major failure from an economic standpoint, with few programmers making money from it.
Would Lotus 1-2-3 or WordPerfect have been successful if they had been distributed for free? Of course not. By the way, Red Ryder, which once was shareware, is no longer free and is now a commercial program.