My first exposure to OpenOffice was a demo from a Sun representative where he was extolling the virtues of Sun’s StarOffice while running his actual presentation from another product (Microsoft PowerPoint). It clearly wasn’t ready for general consumption at that point, but it quickly improved and became the predominant office platform outside of Microsoft Office.
The reality of open source is that it in fact predates commercial software, when computers became available around 1945 the primary mode of software development was extremely collaborative. People learned how to program working for computer manufacturers who didn’t see any benefit to the commercialization of the software. Why is it that today the commercial software industry dominates a landscape where open source software is equally capable?