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Historical Background


In the mid-80s, German student Marco Boerries, then 16 years old, was living as an exchange student in Silicon Valley. He was so enthusiastic about the tech scene that he began to develop office software (later known as StarOffice™). In 1986 he founded the Star Division company with its headquarters in Hamburg. It was bought in 1999 for $73.5 million by Sun Microsystems. StarOffice™ 5.1a was the first version of the software to be published by Sun. StarOffice™ 9 appeared in November 2008 and was the final version of the suite.

The OpenOffice.org project was founded on 13th October 2000 by Sun to develop this leading international office suite, which runs on all major platforms and provides access to functions and data through transparent interfaces and an XML-based file format. It is based on of the source code for StarOffice™ 5.2 as well as technology that Sun developed for future versions of StarOffice™. The source code is written in C++ and provides language-neutral and scripting functionality, including Java-based APIs. These allow you to use the suite either as separate applications or embedded into other applications.


In May 2002, the first official version was released: OpenOffice.org 1.0 was born. The final version of the 1.x series appeared as 1.1.5 in September 2005.

OpenOffice.org 2.x

In October 2005, OpenOffice.org 2.0 was released. The user interface was updated and Base was added. ODF was the new standard format for all modules. The 2.x code branch was long maintained, with OpenOffice.org 2.4.3 being published in September 2009.

OpenOffice.org 3.x

OpenOffice.org 3.0, released in October 2008, was again greatly extended. It featured better integration with the user interfaces of the operating systems on which it ran, including a native version on Mac OS X. The latest version of this branch is OpenOffice.org 3.3.0, released in January 2011.

Autonomy and rights

The supreme governing body of the project was the Community Council, elected by the members, which however had virtually no influence on the main processes of development at Sun Microsystems. The release of the code as open source was planned with all rights to the name, etc. to be transferred to a foundation still to be established. As a basis for this, some developers at Sun Microsystems founded as a precursor the association "OpenOffice.org team" which received donations for the project in order to support various marketing campaigns. By 2009, this body managed the rights to the name "OpenOffice.org". To improve the policing of infringements, the trademark in 2009 transferred to Sun Microsystems.

Sun / Oracle

Throughout this time, Sun Microsystems had taken a large role in the development of the code, supported primarily by the community, but also by other software companies such as Novell and IBM. In 2009, Oracle made a takeover bid for its rival Sun, which was economically depressed, and after approval by the antitrust authorities, this acquisition was completed in January 2010. The development department of OpenOffice.org in Hamburg was included only on the condition that it was profitable in itself.

Transfer the code to Apache

In April 2011, Oracle announced the recruitment of professional support for OpenOffice.org and announced the conversion to a community-based project. In early June 2011 the source code and all trademark rights was given to the Apache Foundation. OpenOffice.org continued to be developed there (under the name Apache Open Office), with IBM as a major contributor.

The Document Foundation / LibreOffice

In September 2010, some of the developers, in particular volunteers from the community, announced the establishment of "The Document Foundation" to allow the program to continue independently of Oracle with the product name "LibreOffice".


LibreOffice 3.3.0 was presented as a beta in September 2010 and published on January 25, 2011. Unlike the approach used in OpenOffice.org, LibreOffice is developed in strict accordance with a time-based release plan. Several code branches are maintained in parallel and supplied with corrections.

LibreOffice 4.0 was released in February 2013 and featured import/export support for native RTF math expressions, import filter for Microsoft Publisher files, support for all versions of Visio files, and other import improvements.

LibreOffice 5.0 was released in August 2015 and included Microsoft Word-compatible text highlighting and shading, import of Apple Pages '09 documents, a UI for conditional formatting in Calc, and low-level changes to improve performance.

The Document Foundation

The Foundation holds all rights to the project and was legally founded on 2012-02-17 [1]. The necessary foundation capital (a minimum amount of Euro 50,000) was raised by a campaign in February 2011 and collected within eight days. The members of the Foundation chose a board of directors in accordance with the Bylaws , which controls the fate of the Foundation. Further information is contained in the Geschäftsordnung (Bylaws).