Saturday, November 12, 2005

Hong Kong Memories - How the US software industry stimulated piracy

Don Tenant over on ComputerWorld has an OpEd piece about his time in Hong Kong. There is a lot of angst about software piracy, and Don throws a welcome bucket of cold water on the claims of outraged vendors.

I lived in HK from '82 to '93 and helped start the first computer club, HKFOG (HK First Osborne Group) which later became SEAnet. Trips to Sham Shui Po and the Golden Arcade were mandatory as there was no legitimate distribution of software.

I took a film crew from the CBC into the Golden Arcade around '85 when the software piracy was really getting going. A Canadian company had a hit game called "Quest for Tires" that was being knocked off, and there was much sputtering and outrage. They managed to film for about 10 minutes while I bought a copy of the game, and then tattooed guys with cricket bats showed up and suggested loudly in Cantonese that our health would be better outside the building.

I also remember inviting a rep from Ashton-Tate (the dBASE guys) to one of our meetings to discuss why it cost double to buy the software in HK, and why there was no support. He had a rough evening...

No comments: