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The mysterious history of the MIT License

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Legal

I say "seemingly straightforward" because the MIT License is one of the most popular licenses used by open source software. The MIT License, Apache License, and BSD license are the main permissive licenses, a term that contrasts with reciprocal licenses like the GPL, which require source code to be made available when software is redistributed.

Given its popularity, you'd think the license's inception would be well-documented. I found various clues that added up to a date in the late 1980s but nothing definitive. However, Keith Packard and Jim Gettys jumped on the thread to offer first-hand accounts of the license's creation. In addition to providing early examples of the license, their help also gave me the context to better understand how the license evolved over time.

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