You can get Octave from a friend who has a copy, by anonymous FTP, or by ordering a tape or CD-ROM from the Free Software Foundation (FSF).
Octave was not developed by the FSF, but the FSF does distribute Octave, and the developers of Octave support the efforts of the FSF by encouraging users of Octave to order Octave on tape or CD directly from the FSF.
The FSF is a nonprofit organization that distributes software and manuals to raise funds for more GNU development. Buying a tape or CD from the FSF contributes directly to paying staff to develop GNU software. CD-ROMs cost $400 if an organization is buying, or $100 if an individual is buying. Tapes cost around $200 depending on media type.
The FSF only makes new CD releases a few times a year, so if you are interested specifically in Octave, I recommend asking for the latest release on tape.
For more information about ordering from the FSF, contact email@example.com, phone (617) 876-3296 or anonymous ftp file `/pub/gnu/GNUinfo/ORDERS' from prep.ai.mit.edu or one of the sites listed below.
If you are on the Internet, you can copy the latest distribution version of Octave from the file `/pub/octave/octave-M.N.tar.gz', on the host `ftp.che.utexas.edu'. This tar file has been compressed with GNU gzip, so be sure to use binary mode for the transfer. `M' and `N' stand for version numbers; look at a listing of the directory through ftp to see what version is available. After you unpack the distribution, be sure to look at the files `README' and `INSTALL'.
Binaries for several popular systems are also available. If you would like help out by making binaries available for other systems, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A list of user-visible changes since the last release is available in the file `NEWS'. The file `ChangeLog' in the source distribution contains a more detailed record of changes made since the last release.
Octave currently runs on Unix-like systems only. It should be possible to make Octave work on other systems. If you are interested in porting Octave to other systems, please contact email@example.com.
The latest version of Octave is 1.1.0, released January 1995.