Originally Posted by wXR
Care to elaborate?
Things have been released as "open source" a long time before now, in fact the operating systems for several early systems were released wholly for free. Then the microcomputer revolution created a lot of software that was available freely and modifiable. The main difference to now was that software were often available as public domain or without any explicit license (but released with the intention of it being freely distributed and modified).
The GPL, MIT, BSD licences all dates back to the late 80's as does software that uses them.