When I first started programming back in the late 1970′s, there were not a lot of examples of existing programs. Sure, most BASIC manuals had some simple programs, in fact, the TRS-80 shipped with an excellent manual written by David Lien, however a serious developer quickly ran through those simple programs. David Ahl’s books that featured computer games written in BASIC, and new magazine such as Byte quickly filled the void.
By the time modems and BBS’s first came about in the early 80′s, programmers started to share source code, and make it available for use. In many ways, this was the origin of open source software. Developers freely made available pieces of code that they had developed.
The Programmer’s Corner was a repository for many of these collections. It became one of the most popular sources for software developers looking for just that right piece of code that could help them finish their project. In addition, the message boards were visited by some of the best programmers at the time, always willing to help out with a particularly difficult problem. In a pre-Google world, this was pretty heady stuff. Having individuals like Bill Parke uploading super useful DOS utilities that also included the source code opened up a new world for those who had been forced to buy prepackaged commercial programs, or go without. To see some examples of early ASM code, visit here.