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Firebird Foundation: a Retrospective
As we all know, the Firebird Foundation was incorporated in 2002 to provide a way to raise funds to support the developers of the open source Firebird relational database management system that forked from InterBase 6 at the end of July, 2000.  The lead-up to the formation of the FF involved a lot of effort from a number of people.  For historical reasons, it is important that they do not go without acknowledgment.

Viva InterBase!

The events around the beginning of December, 1999, indicated strongly at the time that the software house of Borland, then known as "Inprise", intended to wash its hands of the trusty RDBMS that we all knew as InterBase.  At that point, the current version was 5.6, with IB 6 anxiously awaited.  Its product managers and support people had walked out of an untenable situation while IB 6 was in a late beta.  Those of us who were users of the IB Objects Delphi components of Jason Wharton were horrified and powerless.  We all hung out in Jason's product support list.  At his behest, we formed into a loosely-organised group with a mail list and a web page on his server.  We referred to ourselves as "the InterBase Developers' Initiative", or IBDI.  Our broad aim was to find some way to save InterBase from the trash-heap.

As the IBDI took off, we were joined by others who were keen to help.  At first, we were looking for contacts to investors who might fund a buyout.  Jason himself was looking in the direction of having Inprise release the IB source code into the open source arena.  He spent many hours (and dollars) in discussion and negotiation with Inprise management, to no avail, initially.  However, just after New Year 2000, the then CEO of Inprise, Dale Fuller, announced that IB 6 would be released to open source.

The events leading up to the eventual release of the code seven months later can be reviewed in the historical account of the Firebird Project.  Firebird was forked from the read-only Inprise code tree at Sourceforge by Mark O'Donohue on July 31.  Negotiations between Inprise and a team (subsequently the support company IBPhoenix) that proposed to take up the InterBase business fell through and it bounced back to the user community to find some way to ensure the future of the Firebird fork.  A steering committee formed and spent the succeeding months exploring possibilities, including the establishment of a non-profit organisation to drop an anchor for the Firebird Project and raise funds to support the voluntary developers. That is the route we took and here we still are.
Thus it was that the first Certificate of Incorporation was issued for "The FirebirdSQL Foundation" in November, 2002.  The Foundation already had 15 financial members, one sponsor and one honorary member at that point.  Our inaugural AGM was convened the following month and elected the members of the steering group as officers and committee.  

In 2005, with help from an outside expert, we revised the rules and developed some formal procedures for meetings.  The name was changed then to "Firebird Foundation" and our new certificate was issued.
 

The First Committee

  Who Member No. About
Mark O'Donohue (Australia): President 10 Mark attached himself to the IBDI from the beginning, with a strong attraction to open source software and a technical background in systems architecture. It was Mark who made the Firebird fork from the InterBase 6 source on the day it was released.
Geoff Worboys (Australia): Vice-President 2 An articulate researcher with high-level technical skills.
Jason Wharton (U.S.A): Treasurer 15 Instigator of the IBDI, who served several terms as Treasurer and committee member.
 
Helen Borrie (Australia): Secretary 1 Busy person.  Author of The Firebird Book and creator of Sparky the fluffy phoenix.

Committee Members
     
Lucas Franzen (Germany) 4 Known as "The Mad Auctioneer" due to his entertaining role in the Foundation's fund-raising auctions at many conferences.
Frank Ingermann (Germany) 3 Muso, DJ and collector of Sparkies.
Sean Leyne (Canada) 7 Provided (amongst other things) servers to host the original web sites and Foundation mailing lists, sponsorship and the rights to the source code for the nBackup utility.
Thomas Steinmaurer (Austria) 9 Strong advocate for Firebird; tools developer.
Martijn Tonies (Netherlands) 5 Another enthusiastic advocate and developer of tools for Firebird.
Svein Erling Tysvaer (Norway) 8 Advocate for Firebird and Bamsemums (chocolate bears!)
Phil Shrimpton (U.K.) 6 An IBDI colleague who disappeared mysteriously soon after the first AGM. 

 
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