The history of Octave's development has been nicely summarized by its author, John W. Eaton. One of the most remarkable things of the development process its devotion to the GNU principles:
Further information about Octave can be found on the Octave Homepage , Octave at Sourceforge , and at Matlinks. John W. Eaton has written up an article about the past, present, and future of GNU/Octave for the 2nd International Workshop on Distributed Statistical Computing. The paper outlines history and development of Octave.
For those readers, who are interested in details, we have setup Da Coda Al Fine, or Coda for short. Coda explains expert topics like, for example, how to compile oct files or how to build standalone applications with the Octave libraries.
Want to get an impression of how Octave code looks like? Check out the Octave Sneak Preview page.