Around the time the ``Personal Computer'' was being developed the idea of charging for software. It wasn't entirely novel (University of Waterloo charged for the Watcom compilers) but it was not pervasive until the PC arrived. Bill Gates didn't invent charging for software. (He did invent making his software required as far as I can tell). However, the PC really opened the market for proprietary software. There was a booming market in paid software. Which led to a booming market in ``cracked'' software. Which led to a booming market in anti-copy software. Which led to a booming market in ``cracking software''. It was a regular technology arms race. (sound familiar?)
Richard Stallman  tells the story of trying to fix a printer driver around this time. He couldn't get the software which annoyed him. Eventually he decided that software should be free. And the rest, as they say, is history.
So now we are in a situation where the world is beginning to see the value of free software. In some sense it is like the value of free science.