Jim Knopf, nicknamed Jim Button ("Knopf" meaning "button" in German), is considered by many to be one of the "fathers" of shareware (so named by fellow software veteran Peter Norton). As an IBM employee, he wrote a program to help with a local church congregation. When demand for his program consumed too much of his time, he quit IBM and created Buttonware. He released his first program, PC-File (a flat file database), in late 1982 as "user supported software". He has been quoted as saying this expression not only reflected the optional payment model, but also that comments from users drove the development of later releases.
He collaborated with PC-Talk (communications software) developer Andrew Fluegelman to adopt similar names (PC-File was originally "Easy-File"), and prices, for their initial shareware offerings; they also agreed to mention each other's products in their program's documentation. Fluegelman referred to this distribution method as "freeware".
As of 2007[update], of the three founders of shareware, Knopf was the only one still alive, despite having a near-death experience in 1992, when his heart stopped beating briefly while experiencing a heart attack. Shortly thereafter, he sold all his business assets and retired to the Pacific Northwest. He died on October 1, 2013, after suffering for several years from heart disease and Crohn's disease.
- The beginnings of shareware
- Interview with Jim "Button" Knopf
- An article by Jim Knopf
- Article about Jim "Button" Knopf, from Dr. Dobbs Journal
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