I will try and put up a good explaination:
My father used to staple his old punched card decks, into christmas trees.
When I was 10, my older brother assumed that I could program a computer like a 14 year old, and I could easily. Started with a Data General Nova, which died only after a few short months of use. ( It had been there for over 4 years, and was flakey at best ...)
The powers that be showed it the door, and ushered in a new subsidized HP 2000B, and used the same old ASR-33 Teletypes. 4 years later, my brothers teacher had me complete the answers keys for all the years quizes in the first week. Easy work.
15 or so years later, my C teacher said "Have you heard of GNU? We said no, who wrote it, and he said Richard Stallman, and we said "Oh the guy who wrote emacs?" and he said "You know emacs?" and we had to answer honestly, "Not nearly as well as we liked." and we said "Well, if GNU is anything like emacs, we would like a source tape. So I had a source tape of GNU 0.1. Upon reading almost all the source over a few days, me and my two friends agreed: This guy is going to get a MacArthur grant, no doubt about it. It took a few years but we got one.
When we finally got to meet Richard, we told him this story, and all he said was "Humph."
We would check the updates often, and had trouble with transferring the large files, so we had to use a mail server at uwasau.fi to uuencode and split them into 4 128byte emails, and wait for a few weeks to get them all together so we could look at the source. Unix was fun before all this DNS stuff messed it up.
After another year, I came home, and both my roommates were fired up about a usenet post by some guy named Linus, and he had written an OS... So we downloaded it, and lacked the Swedish keyboard necessary to run it, so we waited a few months until Linus added English keyboard support. booted just fine!
Later on, I built a IBM XT Turbo compatible, and installed Xenix x86 on it. Learned K&R and all the funny things with Xenix. We got all the stuff to compile and run, and could play Rogue on all our terminals. So we got the source to NetHack, and tried to compile it. It blew up the file system so badly, that... it was unrecoverable.
I keep coming across amazing sources for DEC knowledge, all of which I will collect here:
This is the one from the Netherlands which is a good source for the DEC Books webified.
Bitsavers and The web archive both seem to have a lot of material on line, but just as scanned plages.