Bob Wallace

Bob Wallace
Death date
Associated organizations
Microsoft Corporation
Fields of study


Bob Wallace, was a programmer who helped invent shareware software marketing. Wallace attented Brown University in the 1960's, and worked with a group of researchers led by Andries van Dam and Ted Nelson on a pioneering information age tool known as the file retrieval and editing system, or Fress. It was designed on a mainframe IBM 360 computer, and shaped personal computing in the next three decades. The Fress group designed early text editing and word processing systems and conceptualized the idea of "hypertext", which would be later used in the World Wide Web.

Wallace joined the Microsoft Corporation in 1978, its ninth employee. He developed an early version of the Pascal programming language and left the company in 1983 to found Quicksoft, a software company that sold a word processor called PC-Write using a marketing plan that Mr. Wallace initially called commission shareware.

The term shareware had already been coined by Jay Lucas, writing in the personal computer newspaper InfoWorld to describe the software that was being distributed free or for a nominal copying charge. Wallace copyrighted his PC-Write program and sold the diskette for $10, at the same time giving users permission to share the program. Customers who found value in the software were able to register the program for $75 and obtain a printed copy of the manual. Within several years, Quicksoft had 32 employees and annual revenue of more than $2 million.

Mr. Wallace had a long interest in psychedelic drugs, which he thought were misunderstood in the United States. In 1996, he started Mind Books, a source for books about psychedelics. In 1998, he founded the Promind Foundation to support scientific research and public education about psychedelics.