In a SaaS world, Tucows closes the Internet shareware barn doors

The end of the long-time software-sharing repository underlines that personal computing isn't what it used to be, as we keep moving apps (and desktops) to the cloud.

Once upon a time, in the early 1980s to be exact, you could pay hundreds of dollars for a PC program, or you could download a shareware program at the shocking high speed of 1200 bits per second (BPS). You'd then try the program, and if you liked it, could buy it for a fraction of the price of a commercial program. Then along came the web, and we could download programs at breathtaking speeds from 28.-33.6 kilobytes per second (Kbps). It was then, as programs grew from kilobites to megabites in size, that some thought a library of freeware and shareware programs on the web would be a great idea.

One of the first of these was Tucows.

The site started on a modem-based bulletin board system (BBS) in 1993 on a library computer in Flint, MI. It's whimsical name, by the way, that’s actually an acronym. It stands for “The Ultimate Collection of Winsock Software.” Winsock, for those of you who weren't pulling your hair out trying to get Windows to reliably use TCP/IP, was theprogram to connect Windows with the Internet before Windows 95 appeared. It quickly became one of the most popular freeware and shareware sites in the dial-up modem world and the early web.

But all good things come to an end. While Tucows, the company claims, is now the second-largest domain name registrar in the world behind GoDaddy, the download library has drifted into irrelevance.

Elliot Noss, Tucows' CEO, said the shutdown had been coming for some time.

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