The Blender you know and love today wasn't always free and open source. Blender is pretty unique in that it's one of the few software applications that was “liberated” from proprietary control with the help of its user community.
Originally, Blender was an internal production tool for an award-winning Dutch animation company called NeoGeo, founded in the late 1990s by Blender's original (and still lead) developer, Ton Roosendaal. As interest in Blender grew, Ton spun off a new company, Not a Number (NaN), to market and sell Blender. Sadly, NaN was forced to shut its doors in 2002, despite Blender's growing popularity. Ironically, this is where the story starts to get exciting.
Even though NaN went under, Blender had developed quite a strong community, which was eager to find a way to keep its beloved little program from becoming lost and abandoned. In July 2002, Ton established a nonprofit organization called the Blender Foundation and arranged a deal with the original NaN investors to release Blender's source to the Blender Foundation. The price tag was set at €100,000 (which at the time was about $100,000),. Initial estimations were that it would take as long as six months to one year to raise the necessary funds. Amazingly, the community was able to raise that money in a mere seven weeks.
Because of the Blender community's passion and willingness to put its money where its metaphorical mouth was, Blender was released under the GNU General Public ...