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Two Hundred Issues?

I’m astonished. Two hundred issues is a lot, and I had no idea we would reach this mark, not because I ever planned to stop publishing TidBITS, but because I seldom think about the future in that respect. The anniversary prompted me instead to think about the past, and had I been able to scrape up the time, I would have written an abbreviated history of TidBITS for those of you who haven’t been reading since April of 1990. Time is in ever-dwindling supply, it so often seems, and instead of poring over back issues to pull out our most successful stories and the most embarrassing mistakes, I’ve decided to publicly thank some of the people who have made publishing an issue of TidBITS almost every week for over three years a true pleasure. In the process, I’ll tell you a bit about each person so you know more about the people whose text you frequently see.

Tonya Engst deserves the most credit, of course, because even though she only writes articles on occasion, she reads and edits every issue of TidBITS, tightening my prose and often catching the stupidities and infelicities that creep into anything that must perforce be written quickly. Tonya has a degree from Cornell University in Communication, with a minor in the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology.

Mark H. Anbinder, our ever-vigilant News Editor, has devoted an incredible amount of time to TidBITS over the last three years as well. Although Mark graduated from Cornell (with a degree in Linguistics, I believe) the same year Tonya and I did, we became friends afterwards, when he was doing technical support for BAKA Computers, the main Apple dealer in Ithaca, a medium-sized town in New York State, and home of Cornell University. Mark has been the president of MUGWUMP, the Macintosh Users Group in Ithaca, for several years now, and also runs a FirstClass BBS called Memory Alpha.

Matt Neuburg has graced our screens over the past few years with long and insightful reviews of word processors, outliners, and hypertext editors. Matt is currently a professor of Classics at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, but we met when he taught Greek Composition at Cornell, the class that I rank above any other in terms of helping me as a writer. (Greek is a verb-based language, whereas English is a noun-based language, so to translate from English into Greek, you have to determine the meaning of the sentence to express the concepts in Greek.) As I’m sure you’ve noticed from his reviews, Matt is an excellent teacher and writer, and I owe him thanks for help with TidBITS and during my years at Cornell.

Ian Feldman created the setext format that we introduced to the world in TidBITS #100, and he has provided megabytes of comments and discussion on TidBITS, electronic publishing, and the nets in general. Ian is a master of ASCII formatting, and that skill shows through in some of the articles he’s written or formatted for us. Frankly, it’s a unclear what Ian does, although he’s continually bombing off on long bike trips in Northern Europe.

Akif Eyler of Bilkent University in Turkey wrote Easy View, the excellent text browser that enables readers to easily skim through issues of TidBITS and other structured text files. Without Easy View, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to refer to past issues of TidBITS stored on your Mac.

Mark Williamson of Rice University set up and has maintained the TidBITS mailing list on Rice’s LISTSERV for about a year and a half now. His efforts have made TidBITS available to many people who could not otherwise retrieve issues each week. Mark also maintains the Info-Mac list at the same site, and his dedication behind the scenes deserves recognition. Thanks are also due to the kind folks at Rice who allow their machines and networks to be used for the good of the Macintosh net community.

Ephraim Vishniac of Thinking Machines created a WAIS source for TidBITS that makes it easy for Internet users around the world to use the power of WAIS to search all of our back issues. Within weeks of creating the macintosh-tidbits.src, it was being searched over 300 times a day. I wonder what it’s up to now.

Pythaeus, our own voice of the oracle of Apollo at Delphi, has continuously gone above and beyond the call of duty to provide hitherto unknown information about every topic under the Macintosh sun. You know who you are.

Scores of others have helped along the way as well, and the number of people and the ways in which they have helped are too numerous to mention here (or I’ll have written that history after all). Nevertheless, you too know who you are, and please consider this a personal thank you to each and every one of you. I never intended to monopolize TidBITS each week, since I don’t pretend to be an expert on everything, and the addition of expert voices from around the net and around the world vastly improves our content.

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