FOSSDA Project to Record Open Source History

Not-for-Profit launches project to engage OSS pioneers and make stories accessible via digital video archives

OAKLAND, Calif.--()--The Free and Open Source Stories Digital Archive Foundation (FOSSDA), a not-for-profit foundation to engage open source software pioneers and share their legacies, today launches the FOSSDA Project to create digital recordings and archives of open source history. As a new generation of tech innovators emerges, the FOSSDA Project aims to uncover and record the stories of the first generation of free and open source software developers, visionaries and strategists who challenged the establishment and changed how we interact with the world.

The free and open source software movement was started by a generation of technical visionaries who believed that access to information is fundamental to human rights in our digital age. It grew into a movement that has transformed software development, business, and modern society. Open source projects have resulted in global collaboration and the creation of Linux, the most popular operating system on earth–along with community tools like Firefox, Sendmail, and the backbone of the Internet. Today, there are over 50 publicly traded commercial open source software companies representing billions in value, and they are in the process of changing how business works today.

“FOSSDA is about the personal stories of those who came together to revolutionize our modern technological world,” said Heather Meeker, FOSSDA’s founder. “A lot has been written about open source development and open source licensing — some practical, some dogmatic, some thought-provoking. But the FOSSDA Project is about a trailblazing human journey.”

The FOSSDA Project aims to:

  • Collect Oral Histories. Identify and interview pioneers in open source development and community leaders;
  • Organize. FOSSDA will leverage the TheirStory video platform to remotely record, transcribe, and index oral history interviews;
  • Synthesize. FOSSDA will liaise with filmmakers, journalists, educators, and content curators to bring the oral histories to life in short and long format films, books, and interactive websites;
  • Educate. The public is invited to learn about the Free and Open Source movement, including at; and
  • Preserve. FOSSDA partners with to ensure that the raw oral histories remain in the public domain and are permanently available.

“Open source brought the power of collaboration to innovation, created the backbone of the Internet, and revolutionized computing,” said Brian Proffitt, FOSSDA Project contributor. “I'm excited to help FOSSDA tell the story of the free and open source software movement and highlight the pioneers who are making the critical software we all rely upon.”

Early supporters and participants of FOSSDA include The Apache Software Foundation, Mozilla, Rochester Institute of Technology, the Permanent Legacy Foundation, and


Free and Open Source Stories Digital Archive Foundation (FOSSDA) is a not-for-profit foundation to engage open source software pioneers, preserve their legacies, and make their stories accessible to open source creators, educators, students, and scholars around the world — now and for generations to come. To achieve this, FOSSDA partners with organizations such as The Apache Software Foundation, Mozilla, and Rochester Institute of Technology, and uses state-of-the-art digital tools and methodologies such as,, and Aviary to collect, preserve, and make accessible audiovisual interviews, images, and documents. To learn more or join the effort, visit

Additional Resources

Contact FOSSDA or email
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Quotes from Supporters and Participants

"At Permanent, we believe all people leave a legacy that deserves to be preserved and that individual stories can change how we understand our world. Open source software is essential to digital preservation and that is how we build Permanent. We are proud to support FOSSDA as one of our Byte4Byte grantees to inspire future generations of contributors.” - Robert Friedman, Executive Director, The Permanent Legacy Foundation

“As a leading FOSS educator and proponent of role diversity within FOSS, Open@RIT’s participation in FOSSDA is an incredible opportunity for our students – across engineering, media, and the humanities disciplines– to build their professional skills and networks by doing Open Work. They will be able to learn from, and directly connect with, the founding members of the free and open source software movements. The work with FOSSDA will provide them the opportunity to build greater strengths in critical thinking, teamwork, project management, empathy, interviewing, storytelling, video production, and more. We know that this can be a catalyst for our students to learn more about and contribute to the Free and Open Source community.” - Stephen Jacobs, Director, Open@RIT

“As long time contributors and users of free and open source software, Aviary is honored to be part of having the stories of the people behind this revolutionary movement heard.” - Chris Lacinak, CEO AVP, creators of Aviary

“It is an honor to be FOSSDA’s oral history platform of choice, and we are excited at the opportunity to connect the open source community intergenerationally. We believe the FOSSDA oral history project will create engaging primary records that people, institutions, and society will learn and benefit from for generations to come, and that it will create and reinforce deep connections in the open source community today.” - Zack Ellis, CEO, TheirStory