When I got my first computer, I found that computer software was expensive and started looking around for cheaper alternatives. I would borrow and copy software from friends, but aside from it not being right, it often was not what I was looking for.
I was using the Internet at the time, more for entertainment than anything, already I saw the value of the of the Internet for finding information. I started looking for software online and soon discovered that the Internet was turning the old style business model on its head – you know the one where the the shopkeeper offers you something for sale and if you want it, you pay him the price he asks.
I came across Free Software, where the intention was for the developer to establish his reputation, before he started to charge. Then there was also Shareware, where you could use a limited version of the software but if you paid a fee, got the full program.
Then I discovered Open Source, which usually is free, but not always. What is always free about Open Source is the Source Code. Developers will publish their code, and anyone can take it and improve on it or even use it to create their own product, as long as the code remains free, they can charge for the finished product, if the want to. Usually you find that there is a large community involved and they help keep the product updated and find solutions when bugs are found.
Sadly there are times when you need to pay for Software, but often you will find what you need cheaper, even free.