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I didn't really consider gcc or much of the other GNU stuff very viable back then. Emacs, sure. But most of it seems to have matured after Linux's popularity grew.

It might depend on what you were doing. I mean, Cygnus was founded in 1989, and I think they had revenue by 1990. So at least some people considered it so viable they were willing to pay a tiny startup hundreds of thousands of dollars for it by then.

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