When I think back on what I’ve enjoyed the most about TidBITS over the last 20 years, it’s not the technology. Instead, the way TidBITS has enriched my life the most is through the people it has enabled me to meet and work with, at all levels of the Macintosh industry, ranging from independent Mac developers to Mac user group members to Apple executives.
So I want to share something special with you today – my friends and colleagues. I’ve asked a random set of people I’ve known in the industry for a long time to write a few words about how they first encountered TidBITS, what they remember from meeting me and Tonya, how TidBITS has influenced their lives, and so on.
My only regret is not having time to include even more people, but if you have a fun story about finding TidBITS for the first time, about meeting anyone on the staff, or how TidBITS has changed your life, please share it in the comments!
When Adam’s “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” came out, I bought a copy at the Dartmouth Bookstore (I was working at Dartmouth at the time). As I stood in line waiting to pay, I happened to flip around the index and caught my name (at that time, I went by Andy J. Williams). I was shocked! Adam had mentioned my habit-at-that-time of providing LISTSERV access to various email lists and described me as “a sucker for resources in need of a home.” The checkout person at the store was not impressed, but I was thrilled to have achieved some small amount of fame.
The following summer, during my annual pilgrimage to Macworld Expo in Boston, I discovered that Adam was signing books at his publisher’s booth. I flipped my badge backward to hide my name and walked up to him and in my best stern-I-am-trying-not-to-smile-and-give-it-away look said, “You called me a sucker in your book, and I’m really upset!” He looked at me like I was some crazy (okay, to be fair, I was), and then I flipped my badge around and he laughed. And that’s how we met.
I think I wrote my first article for TidBITS a while later, a review of a new LaserWriter (see “LaserWriter 16/600 PS,” 14 November 1994).
TidBITS has been an integral part of my life since its HyperCard days. I hope it’s going strong in 2,048 issues, and I wish everyone involved a happy 20th birthday!
[Andy Affleck is a Take Control author and TidBITS contributor who has become infamous for recommending the Solitaire Till Dawn card game for the annual TidBITS gift guide.]
David Blatner — TidBITS, my old friend. Why, I remember when you were just a little thing, a strangely formatted recurring email in the wee-early 1990s that reminded me that I was far from alone in my odd proclivities toward all things Macintosh. (Yes, you remember that ol’ “Mac” used to go by a longer name!) I don’t recall much from those days, which seem a haze to my addled brain, though the memories are all fond ones. And, of course, it’s hard to discern where my remembrances of TidBITS end and those of Adam and Tonya begin (as though, like Tron, they were early on pulled into the digital reality of their own writings, becoming one with the greater ASCII.) I recall that wonderful party at Adam and
Tonya’s house before they left for New York in 2001 (boo hoo), where we inherited a jade plant (now sprouted into several in our kitchen). I recall far-out conversations with Geoff Duncan and my surprise when my officemates and friends (Glenn Fleishman and Jeff Carlson) were suddenly enlisted into positions of greater editorial responsibility. I remember writing, re-writing, editing, and thinking all the time, “I’m really doing this article for free?” For that’s the magic of TidBITS: it draws us all back to our childhoods, where we communally shared our experiences and got excited with our friends about the tiniest things – the things that were, are, most important in the minutiae of
our lives. Congratulations, Adam and Tonya. I applaud you.
[David Blatner is the co-host of InDesignSecrets.com and the Print and ePublishing Conference. He is generally acknowledged to be one of the world’s experts on publishing software, though he has also written on pi, aviation, and Judaism.]
Liz Castro — I started reading TidBITS in the early 1990s when I was still living in Barcelona, translating the third edition of “The Macintosh Bible” into Spanish. It was my lifeline to news about the world of Apple, and I have depended ever since on its timely, accurate, incisive, and relevant stories. I can remember numerous times having read an article and later encountered the problem which it solved.
I love how TidBITS has evolved. In the beginning, it was mostly Mac stuff, but as Apple has added iDevices, TidBITS has stepped up to cover them. TidBITS always makes me feel like I’m up to date, like I have the inside track covered.
And to show how small the world can be, I first met Adam and Tonya at a Macworld Expo in San Francisco and after some conversation, it turned out we had friends in common in Ithaca.
Congratulations, and thanks for 20 years!
[Liz Castro is a computer book author best known for her “HTML, XHTML, and CSS: Visual QuickStart Guide,” which has sold more than a million copies across six editions.]
Marshall Clow — I’ve been reading TidBITS since my kids – now 21 and 19 – were very small, but it was sometime after the switch from the HyperCard stack format. Articles have helped me out of jams on several occasions, and just being able to point someone at a TidBITS article and say, “Is this the problem that you are having?” has made my life a lot easier over the years.
I’ve been mentioned a few times in TidBITS articles, which is always a kick because I get comments from other people: “Hey, I saw you in TidBITS!” But the most amusing bit was the year I received what turned out to be a one-off version of the TidBITS April Fools issue wishing me a happy birthday.
[Marshall Clow is a long-time Mac developer who has worked on products from StuffIt Deluxe to Eudora and whose birthday is indeed on April 1st.]
Michael E. Cohen — I can’t even remember the first time I read TidBITS, but it wasn’t on the Web because Tim Berners-Lee hadn’t yet unleashed the World Wide Web on the world. I vaguely recall using a Mac program called Easy View that formatted TidBITS email issues for easy onscreen reading. TidBITS was great for those of us hankering for Mac news back in the last century – it was a great source of, well, really useful and interesting tidbits, sort of a Mac and an Internet jungle drum that beat its way into my mailbox once a week. A year or two after I read my first issue, I picked up a copy of Adam’s “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” to share with all my friends and colleagues. I probably read about the
book in a TidBITS issue.
The first time I met Adam and Tonya (and, I think, the only time that we’ve met offline) was during Macworld Expo in San Francisco in 2007, a few months after they had published the first edition of my Take Control book on syncing. I remember thinking how much nicer they both were in person than in email and on the phone, and, given that they both are among the nicest people I’ve ever dealt with remotely, that was impressive. Congratulations on 1K of TidBITS!
[Michael E. Cohen has written three Take Control books about syncing, and currently holds the record for most puns per title.]
Colin Crawford — In over three decades the Apple industry has experienced swings of great highs and deep lows. However, despite some turmoil there has been a remarkable camaraderie in the industry – it is bonded by a desire to see Apple and the whole ecosystem not just survive but continue to set high standards for others to emulate. It’s not about unquestioning loyalty or fanboy fanaticism – we’ve all been willing to offer constructive criticism to help improve products from Apple and others in the industry. When subpar products have appeared, we’ve called the companies on them and dealt with some inevitable backlash. The focus has always been to serve Macintosh users, to give them the best advice we
TidBITS over the last 20 years has been a consistent voice of reason. The style is not strident, but it’s authoritative, well reasoned, and always presented with great clarity and total editorial professionalism. In a nutshell, Adam and Tonya have created an indispensable trusted brand that is an integral part of the Mac community.
The contributions to this issue from all across the industry are testament to the tremendous reach and influence of TidBITS. I am looking forward to reading their insights for many more years.
[Colin Crawford was the CEO of Macworld Magazine from 1995 to 2003.]
When I first went to work at Peachpit, I was a Mac user, but I wasn’t immersed in the world of Mac. My colleagues at Peachpit turned me on to TidBITS, and it quickly became a trusted source of news and, more importantly, a beautifully written (and edited) interpretation of that news.
I was introduced to Adam and Tonya a year or so later. By then I had read about them and learned a bit about them, but I can still recall that my very first thought on meeting them was, “This cannot be Adam and Tonya. They are so young!” I realized that because they wrote with such authority, confidence, and understanding of technology that I had unconsciously aged them in my mind. They couldn’t possibly have all that experience and be that young, could they?
Soon thereafter I was assigned to be Adam’s editor on his first Peachpit book. And I’ll admit, I was more than a bit intimidated. Yes, with Adam writing and Tonya editing, I had a book editor’s dream team, but how could I edit their work? How would I work with them?
I quickly discovered that they were indeed a dream team and a delight to work with. I am sure I learned far more from them than they did from me, but they were fantastic partners and consummate professionals, and ultimately, they have become my friends. I feel very fortunate to work with them, and to continue to learn from them. The TidBITS issues that arrive each week are a welcome sight in my overcrowded inbox, and the TidBITS archives are a treasure that I turn to for reminders, information, and sometimes, just fun.
Congratulations on 20 amazing years! Thank you for everything you do to keep this community strong.
[Nancy Davis is Editor-in-Chief of Peachpit Press.]
Sky Dayton — My relationship with TidBITS and Adam goes way back. Seventeen years ago, Adam’s TidBITS advice and his seminal “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” helped me get my Mac on the Internet for the first time. Soon afterward, I decided to start EarthLink, and I ordered “Internet Starter Kits” by the case to give to every EarthLink subscriber as they signed up. Later on, Apple selected EarthLink as their built-in Internet provider because of our long dedication to the Mac, which all started with TidBITS.
Through thick and thin, TidBITS has been the heart and soul of the Mac community for twenty years.
[Sky Dayton founded EarthLink in 1994 and Boingo Wireless in 2001, where he remains chairman of the board.]
[Steve Dorner is the original author of Eudora.]
Ole Eichhorn — I first downloaded TidBITS on CompuServe, in the old setext format, starting with issue #7 or so. I remember being notified of new issues via a newfangled thing called Internet email to my account 70740,50. Yes, that’s right, I had a seven-digit CompuServe account number.
Hundreds of articles in TidBITS have helped me with an important tip or pointed me to something interesting. I remember when just figuring out all the Apple models was challenging, and which models supported which features. That has sure changed. I think the software reviews were one of my biggest reasons for reading, since in the old days software companies couldn’t easily offer trial versions, and this was before the Internet; you couldn’t just Google for reviews. TidBITS always did “fair and balanced” views of products.
To me, the most amazing thing about TidBITS is its consistency and longevity. If I were telling a friend about TidBITS now, I’d probably tell the story about how, to celebrate its 20th anniversary and 1,024th issue, Adam contacted some longtime readers and asked them to talk a little about TidBITS, including relating the most amazing story about TidBITS they could think of…
[Ole Eichhorn is Chief Technology Officer at Aperio. His previous positions include Executive Vice President of Engineering at PayPal and General Manager of Online Billpay at Intuit.]
Twenty years is quite a long time in human appreciation. But twenty years of steady and robust determination is a wonderful achievement. Thank you…
I was an early Mac user between 1987 and 1997. I have known TidBITS since its second year. The importance of TidBITS in my life, however, is not as a reader or a Mac user. I took part in the development of browsing tools aimed at supporting electronic publishing. Easy View was one of the earlier tools – an academic work at that time – in the field. Our very similar dedication to “easily reachable archives” was the strong link between us.
[Akif Eyler is Professor of Computer Engineering at Marmara University in Istanbul, Turkey. He is best known in the Mac world for developing the Easy View file viewer that was for many years the preferred way to archive and view TidBITS issues.]
Dan Frakes — Honestly, I have no recollection of the first time I met Adam or Tonya – it seems like I’ve known them for ages, although it has probably been only 12 or 13 years. I knew of them long before that: I remember browsing a copy of “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” at the campus computer store back in 1993 or 1994, about the same time I started reading TidBITS regularly.
Back then, the idea of getting weekly Mac news that wasn’t a week (or more) old was still fairly unique – the Web hadn’t yet taken off as a primary source of Mac information. I still have fond memories of using Easy View to read those issues. In a way, Easy View and TidBITS were like an early RSS reader… albeit one that updated its feeds only once per week.
Here we are, nearly two decades later, and TidBITS is still going strong. One of the most amazing things about TidBITS is how long Adam and Tonya have been publishing continuously: the TidBITS Web site provides the oldest unbroken archives of Mac-related news out there.
But that archive has personal meaning, as well. I’ve written articles for TidBITS, but a search of the TidBITS Web site turned up a number of quotes from me as a reader that helps document my own technological history. For example, I discovered that my name first appeared in TidBITS in November 1998 (see “Talkin’ About MP3,” 30 November 1998). The staff had asked readers some questions about the nascent technology of MP3 audio and quoted my response. I didn’t realize I was listening to MP3 files in 1998, but evidently I was, and regularly!
I bring this up not just because I found my 12-year-old quotes interesting, but because it points to a big reason for TidBITS’s success: Adam and Tonya have always considered TidBITS readers to be not just passive consumers, but part of a community of contributors. I look forward to many more years of that community.
[Dan Frakes writes for Macworld and occasionally moonlights as a Take Control editor and TidBITS contributor.]
Greg Friedman — Around the end of 1990, I applied for a job at Aladdin Systems, which had recently introduced the first commercial version of StuffIt. At the time, Aladdin was a company of six employees operating out of a house in Aptos, California. TidBITS was being published as a HyperCard stack at the time (a really cool HyperCard stack which aggregated back issues, if I recall correctly). Like many of us, I downloaded it from the Info-Mac Archives each week over my 2400 baud modem.
Anyway, TidBITS ran a piece on the imminent release of StuffIt Deluxe 2.0, which I read prior to interviewing with Aladdin. One of the guys who interviewed me was Dave Schargel, President of Aladdin and a well-known personality in the industry. Dave asked me what industry magazines I read. I told him I read MacUser, Macworld, and TidBITS. In fact, I told him, I’d recently read the TidBITS coverage of the upcoming StuffIt Deluxe 2.0 release. Dave hadn’t heard of TidBITS before, but he was impressed by how up-to-date I was because of that article and we launched into a memorable first conversation about the evolution of media into the digital space. In short, TidBITS helped me land my first job in the industry.
Twenty years! That’s just incredible. What a ride these past twenty years have been for all of us. Heartfelt congratulations to you and the TidBITS family!
[Greg is currently a Development Manager at Microsoft where, among other things, he worked on the first few releases of Internet Explorer for the Mac. Prior to Microsoft, he worked at Aladdin Systems and spent a few years working on Developer Tools at Apple.]
Lea Galanter — I was a member of the Mac user group in Houston before I moved to Seattle in 1990, where I met Adam and Tonya at Seattle’s dBug. Adam was the person who first showed me “the Web” – via something called Mosaic. I was blown away – one of those moments I remember in detail.
I think I’ve been reading TidBITS since the beginning, and I still read TidBITS regularly; it seems even more important now with multiple Apple products in my life (a laptop, an iPhone, and one day soon an iPad). I can’t think of anywhere else I can get the latest news and information that matters about Apple products all in one place.
[Lea Galanter is a Take Control editor.]
Jeff Ganyard — Let’s see, I would first have encountered TidBITS back in 1992. The Apple Assistance Center was in the process of being created in Austin, TX, out of the “System 7 Answerline.” It was Apple’s further foray into the world of direct end user support. One of the people in that group had been at Cornell just prior to coming to Austin to work for Apple. She introduced me to TidBITS. We all looked forward to each issue, and even as we were getting some excellent training within Apple, TidBITS provided us with the wider view of what was happening in the Mac world.
The things I can share about the early influence of TidBITS in my career…
- We formatted all the reference docs for the software support group at Apple in setext format and referenced it in Easy View, all based on an article Adam wrote. That was the beginning of several years of me building nimble and quick reference resources for Apple’s support reps.
- I found out about BBEdit from TidBITS. I’ve spent an awful lot of time with BBEdit, Rich Siegel, and Bare Bones in the last 18 years.
- I learned about MacHTTP from TidBITS. As Chuck Shotton’s work laid the foundation for Web serving on Macs, so he also helped create my career in Apple, as just a couple years later I became the Server Evangelist and then the Internet Evangelist.
- I don’t recall when I first met Adam but I do remember helping him stash that splintery stake from MacHack under the sink in my hotel room in 2000. I wonder where in the hotel it is now? [To find out, read the articles in “The Story of the Stake.” -Adam]
[Jeff Ganyard is Development Manger for Mac Products at Nuance Communications, which recently purchased MacSpeech, and formerly Internet Evangelist at Apple.]
Jon Gotow — I’ve been reading TidBITS since before there were Web browsers – yeah, that’s old. I first encountered TidBITS on the Info-Mac Digest, where Adam was an active contributor and TidBITS was one of the sources of Mac knowledge. TidBITS has always been one of those rare gems that provides enough technical detail and background for you to really understand topics, and Adam hits the right balance of technical depth and approachability. Plus he’s always straight with his readers – even before meeting him, I felt I knew him and very much trusted his opinions.
After reading TidBITS for so long and emailing Adam on a number of occasions, we finally met at MacHack one year. I think the things that struck me the most were that this busy, incredibly well-known Mac expert sat down and talked to me for a long time and that he was as excited about what was going on in the Mac world as if he’d just discovered it – not as though he’d been writing about these things for years.
Lots of TidBITS articles have been helpful to me over the years, and back in the day, articles tracking virus outbreaks and explaining the workings of clever software like RAM Doubler were invaluable. It made me look smart whenever anyone had a Mac question. But the best part was my 15 minutes of fame in a publication that I really respected when Adam wrote an article about me and my son Ben when we won the hacking contest at MacHack (see “The MacHax Best Hack Contest 2003,” 23 June 2003).
Even now, what sets TidBITS apart is how comprehensive it is. Say there’s a big issue brewing – like the iPad – you can surf all over the place and spend a while collecting information and opinions, or you can just read about it in TidBITS and get a solid, well-researched perspective about what’s up, with reliable links to more information.
[Jon Gotow is the president of St. Clair Software and the developer of Default Folder X and HistoryHound.]
John Gruber — I started reading TidBITS in 1991, during my freshman year of college. I don’t recall how I first came upon it, but I’d wager heavily that it was on one of the comp.sys.mac.* Usenet groups.
As a budding writer and Mac nerd, TidBITS immediately struck a chord. Not just because of what it was about, but because of what it was and how it was delivered. TidBITS has been delivered in a variety of formats over the years – HyperCard stack, plain text email and Usenet postings, and, now, of course, a Web site – but one thing it has never been about is print. And, more importantly, it has always been free of charge to readers.
We take digital distribution and free access for granted today. But TidBITS debuted years before the Web. Think about that. More importantly, TidBITS’s standards for writing, editing, insight, and respect for its readership have been consistently excellent, right from the start. Most of the initial forays into digital publications were clearly from people who saw digital content as inherently inferior to print. Not TidBITS. Their attitude was, “let’s make something great, and let’s do it ourselves.” If anything, TidBITS published higher-quality writing than the print publications covering the Mac market in the early 1990s. And, given the speed of digital distribution, it was more timely and more relevant. In short, TidBITS
wasn’t just “good for something that’s free,” it was good, period. It didn’t try to replicate print. It instead emphasized what digital distribution does best.
Needless to say, I found this incredibly inspiring. TidBITS was the inspiration for the independent Mac publications that followed, including mine. And it’s every bit as relevant today as it was in 1990 (when, I remind you, it was distributed as a HyperCard stack), by remaining focused not on any specific distribution format but on the writing.
Formats come and go. Great writing is forever.
[John Gruber writes Daring Fireball.]
My story, for what it’s worth. I was in Zayre’s department store with my Mom and one or two of my sisters. As usual, I was sort of off on my own and I wound up in the record department. I don’t know why I was drawn to TidBITS specifically. I think it was the colorful cover. It was like a picture puzzle, almost. I thought I recognized Mae West and W.C. Fields. Actually, I’ll be honest: there was a sticker on the plastic that promised that there were cutouts inside.
So I bought it with my birthday money. I opened it up when I got home and played with the cutouts. It was probably a couple of days before I got to actually listen to TidBITS. I had a cassette player in my room… Dad’s hand-me-down from work, one of those kinds where it was shaped like a shoebox and the controller buttons were levers on the front. I wasn’t allowed to use the family stereo downstairs.
But my oldest sisters had a record player and I was able to use it when they weren’t home. I just remember putting on the headphones and sitting on the floor in front of the record player, listening to this freaky, freaky music. It was beautiful. But for all of its intensity, it played out like one of my story tapes; it had a beginning and a middle and an end. I wondered whether the TidBITS editors on the back were really “playing” the roles, or if they were just singing about characters they’d made up.
The last track sort of threw me, though. It was in the form of a dream that transitioned into waking and then getting on a bus. It was really familiar territory for a kid who went to public school. The thing was, though, that it appeared to be broken in half. Intellectually, I knew that this was how the song was meant to go, but it seemed like there was more to the story than that. So I was a little pleased with myself when I learned later that Tonya and Adam had each written two separate songs, and then when they were putting TidBITS together they realized that they could glue them together. I keep forgetting who wrote which part.
Anyway. If you’d told me way back then that I would one day count Adam and Tonya as friends, and moreover that I’d be asked to contribute a little piece of my own to commemorate TidBITS’s anniversary, I would have told you that you were nuts. It’s just one of a thousand little miracles that I’ve encountered in my career. Congratulations, you two.
[Andy Ihnatko writes about technology for the Chicago Sun-Times, does a vast number of other things, and long ago moved up from being the Macintosh world’s 42nd most-beloved industry personality.]
Chuck Joiner — TidBITS at twenty? Is that even possible? There are very, very few things in any category that have been part of my life for twenty years. Whether I outgrew them, lost interest, or they closed up or lost their relevance, they just aren’t there any longer. TidBITS is a notable exception. Adam, Tonya and the entire crew have maintained not only relevance, but also a standard of consistent excellence while growing and evolving with the changes in the world of Apple technology and beyond. Their unique blend of tech reporting, insight and personal experiences set TidBITS apart early on, and continue to make it one of the few truly must-read resources for Apple product users of every stripe.
Thanks for a great twenty years – and over one thousand issues – of useful, interesting, and thought-provoking information.
[Chuck Joiner is the indefatigable mastermind behind the MacNotables, MacVoices, and MacJury podcasts.]
Greg Joswiak — Wow! It’s mind-boggling that TidBITS is turning 20. I remember when I first discovered TidBITS in the early 1990s and thinking of it as an unbelievably timely, informative, authoritative, and classy publication. I couldn’t wait to get each issue to stay up on the happenings in our beloved Mac community. Little did I realize that Adam and team were inventing the future with TidBITS long years before any of us would ever use the word “blog.” But more importantly, they were also part of the fabric and soul of our community. We’ve all been through a lot with each other. And like a good friend, through good times and bad, TidBITS was always there for us. Never getting into the muck, always
staying true to the TidBITS mission to keep us up on the latest news and info. Now 20 years later, TidBITS hasn’t skipped a beat and is every bit as timely, informative, authoritative, and classy!
Congrats on your first 20 years. And THANK YOU to the entire team at TidBITS.
[Greg Joswiak is Apple’s Vice President of iPod and iPhone Product Marketing.]
When our products get reviewed in TidBITS, we know someone has spent time and energy to use and understand the product. On the Web, amidst hundreds of sites which offer little new, that sort of effort has grown rare. TidBITS brings depth to everything it covers.
[Paul Kafasis is the CEO and Lackey of Rogue Amoeba Software.]
Jonathan Kahn — I believe I first encountered TidBITS in the early 1990s in the Aladdin Systems days. Leonard Rosenthol introduced us at a Macworld Expo. I also remember that we really felt as a company that we’d made the big time the first time TidBITS wrote about us. It was through TidBITS that I learned about Chad Magendanz’s ShrinkWrap, then a shareware product that we ended up buying, and which I used to make a lot of disk images back then. I also remember how TidBITS helped us out during the years, giving us advice on our products, acting as a sounding board, and providing insight on where the Mac was moving. That was especially helpful during the launch of StuffIt 5.0, where your advice helped us
get though the switch from the .sit format to .sitx format.
[Jonathan Kahn is the Executive Vice President & General Manager Productivity & Graphics Group at Smith Micro; he was formerly the president of Aladdin Systems and Allume.]
Paul Kent — In the same way people have favorite music that serves as the soundtrack of their lives, TidBITS has been a constant, trusted thread that has chronicled the world of Apple technology. The first time Adam spoke for me was at Mactivity ’93, shortly after “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” came out. That seminal work informed the tone of his early presentations and mirrored the tone of TidBITS – always clear, concise, and compassionate, but never condescending. It’s an inclusive tone that fosters community and makes us all feel that we’re exploring the world of technology together. 18 years and several dozen presentations later, TidBITS continues to serve its readership with the spirit of the
original Mac community and the vibrancy of our current world. Onward to 2,048!
[Paul Kent founded the Mactivity series of conferences and is now General Manager of Macworld Expo for IDG World Expo.]
My entire life for the past 17 years is Adam Engst’s fault.
I was a poor starving college student, trying to find a job with my (to this day) meager skills. But I was really good at talking and explaining things to people and someone told me I should be a computer trainer.
“This Internet thing is going to be huge. You should look into that.”
My local bookstore had a copy of Adam’s “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh.” $50 (Canadian). Gulp. I sadly spent my beer money on it and took it home, devouring it over the weekend. Installed the software and BOOM! A whole new world of information opened up to me.
Thanks to that book and TidBITS, I looked like a genius, and those of you who know me know how hard that is to accomplish. I could get fellow Mac users on the Internet with ease, troubleshoot their problems and tell them about cool software, hardware, tips, tricks and information – all things I gleaned from TidBITS. And better yet, they would pay me to talk to them!
A couple of years go by and I’m starting this little “Internet radio” show. I scraped up enough money to go to a Macworld Expo and got to meet Adam and Tonya. Now, we Canadians are generally a reserved, reticent folk, not given to public displays of fanboyism, but I just had to tell Adam how much I appreciated his work and how much he had (unknowingly and unwittingly) contributed to my career.
I fully expected Adam to dismiss me breezily, but he stood there for 10 minutes as we talked Mac stuff. He introduced me to Tonya (who I still have a little crush on to this day) and wished me well with my new show.
I could not have been more impressed – I’ve always been impressed with the style and quality of the writing in TidBITS – but it was at that moment I realized why. It’s because Adam and Tonya are impressive, and they imbue everything they do with passion, intelligence, and respect, and yet still keep a sense of joy and excitement about their lives, both professionally and personally.
I am very proud to have been, to my knowledge, the only person to get Adam to curse during a live broadcast, but I’m even more proud to call them both my friends.
Here’s to 20 more years of being who you are, Adam and Tonya!
[Shawn King is the host of Your Mac Life and is the original Internet Mac broadcaster.]
My more distinct memory is when I first became aware of Adam’s “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh.” At the time, I was using AOL or CompuServe as my main gateway to the Internet. These services seemed so much better than dealing with all the hassles that were inherent with what the Internet Starter Kit described. I just didn’t understand what was getting Adam so excited, or what was making his book so popular. At the time, I would have placed bets that AOL or something like it would keep ascending while the stuff Adam was promoting would fade into oblivion.
It’s a good thing no one was taking my bets or I’d be out a lot of money. Clearly, Adam and Tonya had their fingers on the pulse of where things were headed. They still do. Congratulations on 20 years of leading the way.
[Ted Landau is the king of Macintosh troubleshooting, having founded MacFixIt and written numerous books and articles on the topic. His most recent title for Take Control is “Take Control of iPhone OS 3.”]
Pat Lee — I started reading TidBITS back in 1992. I had just joined Dantz Development, the makers of DiskFit Pro and Retrospect backup software, and like most other small companies at the time we had a single “Internet-accessible” email address to the outside world. Chris Holmes, who also worked in our tech support team at the time, was responsible for distributing TidBITS to the rest of the company.
It’s funny looking back now on those articles that TidBITS wrote about Retrospect and transparent file compression software (see “Retrospect and Compression Software,” 25 May 1992). Does anyone else remember using Salient’s AutoDoubler or Alysis’s More Disk Space to get the most use out of our 40 MB (that’s right, MB not GB) hard drives? Now 2 TB hard disks cost only about $150.
I first met Tonya and Adam at Macworld Expo back in the mid-1990s and looked forward to seeing them every year at Dantz’s Macworld parties at the Thirsty Bear and then keeping in touch with them over email.
At VMware, it has been great collaborating with Adam, Tonya, and Joe Kissell on two “Take Control of VMware Fusion” ebooks. They truly get what Mac users are looking for, and I am glad we can work together to make life even easier for VMware Fusion customers.
I look forward to continued years of reading TidBITS, Take Control ebooks, and whatever great new ideas Adam and Tonya come up with that make life as a Mac user even better!
[Pat Lee is Director of Personal Desktop Products at VMware.]
Peter N Lewis — The first email I can find from Adam was in August 1993, when he asked me, John Norstad and Steve Dorner to tech edit the MacTCP chapter of “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh.” But I’d known of TidBITS since November 1991, when I received a report from one of its readers that my DeHQX 2.0 reported an error decoding issue #95 of TidBITS [which was then a stuffed, binhexed HyperCard stack -Adam].
I’m always pleased to see any mention or review in TidBITS because TidBITS has always been so discerning – anyone can get a mention on any of the various press release republishing sites, but only programs that TidBITS folks actually care about appear in TidBITS, which I think is where it gets a lot of its value. The first time I remember being reviewed in TidBITS was in “Anarchie Rules” (31 January 1994) – an article that has Adam raving about the value of URLs – at that point a new idea!
It also includes the comment, “I’m looking forward to the day when you can select a URL in TidBITS, hit a hot key or select an item from a menu, and have Anarchie snag the file for you instantly.” Later in 1994, Quinn and I answered Adam’s desire with the Internet Config utility, which was later rolled in to Mac OS by Apple (see “Internet Config Ships,” 5 December 1994).
Congrats on 20 magical years! It is fantastic to see TidBITS still going strong, even while many other publishing companies are struggling – a true testament to the value of quality journalism and tenacity – well done!
[Peter N Lewis is the founder of Stairways Software and is well-known in the Macintosh Internet world for programs such as Anarchie (which became Interarchy and was bought by Nolobe), Internet Config, and FTPd. He also played a pivotal role in the founding of Kagi, and now publishes the macro utility Keyboard Maestro.]
[Peter said he couldn’t remember when we first met, but it’s one of our most cherished stories, so I can’t resist sharing. In June 1994, Peter sent me email asking if I was going to Mactivity that year so we could meet up. I had a conflict, but since we had corresponded online a bit by then, I sent what I thought was a throwaway social gesture, and invited Peter to visit if he was going to be up in Seattle (Mactivity was in California). I didn’t understand that young Australians are among the world’s most enthusiastic travelers, so I was somewhat surprised when Peter asked if July 12th through 17th was OK. I’d offered, so I couldn’t say no, and I still remember telling Tonya that I’d accidentally invited someone we’d never met to stay
with us for five days. Ever practical, she asked how old he was (our age) and what he ate (everything). The visit was a smashing success, and subsequent years saw many of Peter’s Mac friends from Australia coming through, and we remain friends with all of them. So much so that we arranged to be in Perth in 1998 for Peter’s 30th birthday party. -Adam]
Jean MacDonald — Two particular articles from last year come to mind whenever I think of TidBITS. Matt Neuburg’s “ClickToFlash Spiffs the Safari Experience” (28 May 2009) changed my computer-using life! I cannot use a browser without ClickToFlash installed anymore. I had no idea how much Flash was embedded in the Web pages I visited. Matt’s article explained how it worked and how to install it so well, I shared that link with everyone I knew. And I got so many thanks for doing so.
And on the lighter side, I was amused when Jeff Carlson and Glenn Fleishman approached me about doing an April Fools Day article about a rift between our company founders, resulting in a spin-off called FrownOnMyMac. We had never done anything like that before. I was a little nervous about proposing it to Philip and Greg since we’re careful not to do anything that might tarnish our reputation. But I trusted Jeff and Glenn to do it well. The resulting piece – “FrownOnMyMac Fills New Mac Niches,” 1 April 2009 – was very amusing and inspired me to create a mock Web page for the fake company. And only one person came up to me at Macworld that year to say he heard that Greg had left the
[Jean MacDonald is a partner at Mac utility developer SmileOnMyMac and a really good sport when it comes to April Fools jokes.]
Jim Matthews — I started reading TidBITS when it was a HyperCard stack, and I think I first heard about it on the Info-Mac mailing list. TidBITS came from Cornell, Info-Mac from Stanford, Eudora from the University of Illinois, and I was working on Fetch at Dartmouth. At that time the Mac Internet community was primarily an academia-based phenomenon, just starting to break out into the wider world.
One of the things that made that breakout possible was Adam’s “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh.” There had been a couple of other Internet books before, but Adam’s was the first to give you everything you needed: knowledge, hand-holding, and software – including a copy of Apple’s elusive MacTCP! – to get onto the net. Seeing “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” on the shelves at Borders was a revelation, an unmistakable sign that the world was about to change.
One thing that hasn’t changed is TidBITS’s approach to journalism; it has remained remarkably scrupulous, patient, and devoted to clear explanations for a confusing and confused world. TidBITS is an Internet treasure.
[Jim Matthews created Fetch, one of the first file transfer programs for the Mac, while working at Dartmouth College in 1989. In 2000, Jim used some of his winnings from “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” to buy Fetch’s source code from Dartmouth and form Fetch Softworks.]
Kirk McElhearn — I bought my first Mac in 1991; a PowerBook 100. Shortly thereafter, I started buying a French Mac magazine (I live in France) that came with a floppy disk of freeware and shareware. One thing it had, with every issue, was a copy of TidBITS. In part because of TidBITS, I continued to buy that magazine for years, and TidBITS kept me up-to-date on the kind of news that the French magazine didn’t report.
Some years later, I started contributing articles to TidBITS, and one article led to a Macworld editor contacting me, asking me to write about a specific program that I had reviewed in TidBITS for a feature article. Since then, I have become a Senior Contributor for Macworld, and I can only say that TidBITS – and Adam’s personal help in making that Macworld connection – got my writing career going.
I don’t contribute to TidBITS as much as I used to, but I read it every week, and recognize it as one of the essential reads for Mac users.
Congratulations to Adam and Tonya on 20 years!
[Kirk McElhearn has written several Take Control titles, numerous Macworld articles, and a variety of print books.]
Don Mayer — I’ve been reading TidBITS for nearly all of its 20 years and in addition to the incredibly valuable tips, analysis and reviews, TidBITS was directly responsible for the launch of my own electronic newsletter, Kibbles & Bytes. You see, Adam and Tonya had DealBITS going for awhile and as a sponsor we would include some offers for TidBITS readers. When they put that incarnation of DealBITS on hiatus, I decided to launch a weekly e-newsletter. Naturally, Small Dog Electronics called it Kibbles & Bytes and 25,000 subscribers and 12 years later it is an integral part of our business.
Happy Birthday TidBITS, you rock!
[Don Mayer is the CEO of Small Dog Electronics, and he contributed this from his iPad while travelling in Hong Kong.]
Kee Nethery — Back in the old days of Hayes 2400 baud modems, I first ran into TidBITS on a floppy disk from BMUG (Berkeley Macintosh Users Group). Back then floppies were the primary distribution media for bits. It would be extremely difficult to pinpoint the first TidBITS article that saved my butt. Even today in the era of online search, having TidBITS as a source of vetted Macintosh information is valuable. TidBITS was essentially the first Macintosh blog, before the term was invented and before the Internet was accessible to mere mortals.
In the beginning, TidBITS was the first and best source for details on any new Mac-related development. With Twitter and other modern developments, TidBITS might no longer be the first outlet with news, but it certainly has the best set of useful information. TidBITS explains what the situation used to be, what it is now, how that impacts the technology, how the technology impacts the users, and what developers have come up with to address the situation. In a world of Sound Bite News, a TidBITS article contains actionable information.
[Kee Nethery is the CEO of Kagi, the ecommerce company he founded in 1994 after leaving Apple, where he specified and delivered the Apple Internet Server Solution for the Web.]
Alan Oppenheimer — It’s hard to remember back that far, but I think I first learned about TidBITS when I met Adam. I was, in hindsight, somewhat isolated at Apple, and didn’t get out into the general Mac community much, despite, for instance, my running a working group in the IETF and talking at WWDC. So it wasn’t until I left Apple and started Open Door that I began to get a real world perspective. I met Adam and TidBITS in early January 1995, at Macworld Expo, when I launched Open Door to do ARA-based dialup Internet access. Someone at the show, possibly Kee Nethery, with whom I had worked at Apple, mentioned TidBITS, Adam, and the Netter’s Dinner. I believe it was, amazingly, also the first time I heard
about Eudora! Getting out of Apple opened a whole new world for me, quite literally.
Some of TidBITS’s reviews of our products have certainly helped. Not just to let more people know about the products, but also because it feels good to get recognition, both from TidBITS and from your readers.
I’d like to see TidBITS continue to evolve with Apple, and add more coverage, as you’ve been doing, of the iPhone and iPad. It was so great of that reader to sponsor iPads for the entire staff. That must have felt good.
[Alan Oppenheimer is President and founder of Open Door Networks, and one of the creators of AppleTalk.]
Naomi Pearce — Do you remember when the Internet essentially meant text: files, email, and such, rather than “the Web”? TidBITS started as interesting nuggets of text, and became like a bible to me, as a searchable source I go to over and over, and can trust. Being on the flip side of working with the writers can be non-trivial – TidBITS writers ask tough questions – and that’s definitely the right approach.
Take Control has been useful too. I still don’t know how Intel’s employee #4 (Les Vadász) ended up in my mailbox asking Mac switcher questions. But after exhausting what I knew and hitting the wall, the Take Control ebooks came to the rescue, and the price was tailor-made for gifting.
I remember meeting Adam and Tonya way back, before a single gray hair, before any young’uns, before GeekCruises, way, way back when Jerry Garcia was still alive. Heck, it may have been back when Bill Graham was alive, but I can’t remember that far. It was back when the Internet provided fast delivery of chunks of text, before it was about the Web and video on demand. These chunks of text were the little tidbits of info. Then, nobody had to tell you to keep it short, or to define “short” as 140 characters. Now, a bazillion tidbits of helpful TidBITS later, it’s a weekly update and a repository of many thousands of individual articles for that emergency search. It’s only in retrospect that it looks like a long time; and
allofthesudden that Steve Martin line “some of these houses are over Twenty Years Old” is, and isn’t, really funny.
[Naomi Pearce is the owner of Pearce Communications, one of the most highly respected public relations firms in the Macintosh industry.]
Chris Pepper — In my mind, TidBITS is inextricably linked to Usenet, Info-Mac, and Eudora. It’s good that at least one of those four has survived and prospered. I don’t recall when I first encountered TidBITS, but I know I printed TidBITS and the Info-Mac Digest on a high-speed dot-matrix line printer (wide green-and-white striped paper) at Rockefeller University in the 1992-1995 period. It was invaluable there for supporting Macs – my first job.
My most memorable TidBITS moment came when Adam let me post a job listing in TidBITS Talk, and I not only filled the job, but made two good friends in the process. Appearing in articles was also very cool, and I made another friend that way. Being written about (rare) is more fun and surprising than writing for TidBITS, which is more significant but much more work! The most trepidation I’ve felt was in speaking carefully but honestly about relatives for a piece on family tech support (see “InterviewBITS: Family Tech Support,” 23 April 2007).
TidBITS remains the best resource for Mac information that I’m aware of, with a long and illustrious history. It broke new ground in publishing, while many readers have been largely unaware of just how unusual TidBITS has been.
[Chris Pepper is a system administrator in New York City who has contributed a number of articles to TidBITS over the years and whose eagle eyes significantly reduce the number of typos and other errors in TidBITS articles. He has also contributed feedback on numerous Take Control ebooks.]
David Pogue — Congratulations on TidBITS #1024! I’ve always appreciated TidBITS’s insight, technical accuracy, and measured opinions; the only thing I don’t appreciate is how old this anniversary suddenly makes me feel. 🙂
Even so, I’m looking forward to the next 1,024 issues!
[David Pogue is Tech Columnist for The New York Times.]
Jeff Porten — I found TidBITS in a grad school computer lab in late 1990 or early 1991. Early enough that it was still in HyperCard format, and “Hey, let’s sit down and read all the back issues” wasn’t a particularly nutty thing to do. I can’t remember when TidBITS switched to setext, but yeah, I had Easy View to format it all pretty. I also liked the option of reading it in pine on the lab VT100 terminals – for some reason, they had trouble with HyperCard stacks.
I first met Adam and Tonya at my first Macworld Expo, which was the last one in Boston. Everyone was treating it like a wake, but I was psyched to meet people. I sat next to them at lunch, with these first impressions: Tonya is short, and Adam is completely insane. (He was training for some kind of double marathon up every hill in Ithaca, hopping backward in the dark in snowshoes. At least that’s how I remember it.)
More importantly, my other first impression is that they seemed as happy to meet me as vice versa, and immediately made me feel like we’d been friends since I downloaded that first HyperCard stack.
I became a Mac and Internet consultant in 1993, catching the very early wave of clients when online meant either AOL or MacPPP. I think I urged around 1,000 people to subscribe to TidBITS, and told most of them that Adam’s “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” was the best way to avoid tossing the PowerBook out a window. I value both reading and writing for TidBITS for the same reason I always have: it’s the club with all of the smart, fun kids.
See y’all for issue #2,048. You should release it in HyperCard. Preferably with HyperCard itself.
[Jeff Porten has served as a roving correspondent for TidBITS at a number of trade shows, blogs for MacUser, and may one day finish a Take Control book.]
Quinn — My memory of all things non-technical is, as always, very hazy. However, I dug through my old email archives to look for our earliest communications and I discovered the following letter to the editor I wrote back in 1992. It’s astonishing how closely history has repeated itself with the release of the iPad.
In response to Adam’s line “Despite this move away from numbers, the Mac is a computer, and no one pretends otherwise.” in “Apple Newtons II” (15 June 1992), I commented:
“This may be true now but in 1984 I don’t think that was what Apple intended. Remember the advert. The key speech therein is:
On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh.
And you'll see why 1984 won't be like "1984."
“No mention of the Macintosh being a computer there. There’s also lots of other evidence that the Mac was never intended to be a real computer. ‘Welcome to Macintosh’ proclaims it every time you boot. Macintosh doesn’t just mean the hardware or the software but the entire system. This was Jobs’s vision, the Macintosh as a ‘bicycle for the mind.’ Of course, there’s a fine line between vision and hallucination. 🙂
“With the Newton, Sculley is trying to do in 1992 exactly what Jobs tried to do in 1984. The only question is, will he do a better job?”
Drummond Reed — TidBITS has the distinction of being the entire launch strategy for one of the first pure Internet software products back in 1993. The Internet Adapter (TIA), which solved the problem of how users with a text-only SLIP connection could use the newfangled graphical Mosaic Web browser, was sold exclusively online (digital keys for unlocking the product were delivered in email).
So it made sense to launch it via a review by Adam in TidBITS and let word of mouth spread from there. It was so successful that Adam’s article was cross-posted to two dozen mailing lists within 12 hours, and it generated over $1 million of TIA sales in the next 6 months. I wouldn’t be working in the Internet business today were it not for Adam and Tonya and TidBITS.
[Drummond Reed is Executive Director of the Information Card Foundation and Open Identity Exchange, and he’s a pioneer in digital addressing and linking technologies with an emphasis on online identity.]
Michael T. Rose — In 1990, as a very green intern, I was among the few, slightly nervous Mac-heads in Time Inc.’s manufacturing and distribution group. My boss, the late Dennis A. Chesnel, was encouraging us to explore the brave new world of professional-quality desktop publishing for the magazine business, and I was fortunate enough to have both a Mac IIfx and a NeXT Cube competing for real estate on my desk.
I’m not sure whether it was Dennis who first forwarded me an issue of TidBITS; it might have been Chris Green, the database lead at Fortune Magazine… but I definitely remember trying to figure out what “setext” was. Took a while, too; this was pre-Google, in the days of Gopher and WAIS, when 2400-baud modems roamed the land. I read about PostScript headers, RAM Doubler, and 32-bit compatibility; I read about SCSI termination and ADB, printer fonts and INITs. Good stuff.
My readership has waxed and waned over the years, but it has always been a pleasant moment to see TidBITS land in my inbox, forwarded or printed or subscribed, with savvy tips and solid information. It’s hard to believe it has been 20 years.
Congratulations Tonya and Adam, congratulations extended TidBITS family, and congratulations loyal readers – here’s to the next twenty years!
[Michael T. Rose is an editor at The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW).]
Leonard Rosenthol — Has it really been 20 years?! No wonder I feel old. I don’t recall exactly how I first stumbled across TidBITS, but apparently I sent Adam email about screen savers in July 1990 (see “Save Our Screens,” 30 July 1990), and “Macworld Impressions” (13 August 1990) documents the first time we met in person – in the wonderful heat of Macworld Boston with me doing software demos of MicroPhone II talking to CompuServe! That certainly would have been the first of many (many!) Macworld Expos during which we hung out, not to mention those sleepless days (or were they nights?) at MacHack. Adam and
Tonya were always great sounding boards for the various software projects that I was involved in over the years – MicroPhone, StuffIt, CyberFinder, SITcomm, PDF Enhancer, and many, many more – all of which got fair and impartial reviews (no matter how much we tried to bribe them!) that helped make the software better the next time around. But my favorite article, of course, has always been “SEx and the Single Archive” (18 July 1994).
Watching the Mac industry grow up with you guys was wonderful – it’s one of the things I do miss about my work outside the industry over the last 10 years. I don’t know if you guys really want to do this for another 20 years – but whatever life brings you it should be great!
[Leonard Rosenthol was developing Macintosh software before TidBITS was born, and is now PDF Standards Architect at Adobe Systems.]
Steve Sande — My first Mac was a 512K model purchased in the latter part of 1984. By 1986, I was the sysop of a bulletin board system here in the Denver area called MAGIC. In 1994, after seeing a demonstration of Mosaic at WWDC, I decided I needed to get onto this Internet thingie. A quick jaunt to my local bookstore netted me a book by some guy named Adam Engst. It was called “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” and helped me begin my journey in this strange little cyber world that we all inhabit.
One of the first Web sites I visited was TidBITS, and to this day I still visit the site regularly as a resource that’s chock full of information and great writing. About five years ago, I noticed that Adam and Tonya were starting to publish ebooks, so I submitted a book that I had self-published, and to my amazement they wanted it as part of the Take Control series. Through Tonya’s patient editing, I learned a lot about writing that I never would have picked up elsewhere.
Many congratulations to the entire TidBITS staff on your 2^10th issue!
[Steve Sande is a Take Control author and blogger for The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW).]
Greg Scown — My greatest TidBITS-related delight was to meet Adam, Tonya, and Tristan on the show floor of Macworld 2009 at the SmileOnMyMac booth for Tristan’s 10th birthday. As a long-time TidBITS reader, I’d read lots about Tristan, so it was really fun to meet him along with his parents and in the always interesting environment of the Macworld show floor. I hope he enjoyed our happy birthday wishes.
[Greg Scown is a co-founder and partner at Mac utility developer SmileOnMyMac.]
Sanford Selznick — I first encountered TidBITS in 1875. I was working as a telegraph operator in Missouri. If I remember correctly, Adam’s new printing press with continuous roll paper was giving him fits. But TidBITS’s articles about photography of the day were incredibly instructional. I’ll never forget when Eadweard Muybridge himself came in to send a telegram. While he was writing out his communication, he spotted one of TidBITS’s articles on the counter. Soon afterwards Muybridge proved to the world that when a horse gallops, all four legs are actually off the ground at the same time.
TidBITS is one of the few technology news sources on the wire that maintains its readers’ trust with incredibly well-researched articles, complete with sources. The impact that TidBITS has had on the past is clear. Who would even know about the telegraph without it? But the future… I wonder. What other technology could possibly be invented?
Thank you for TidBITS!
[Sanford Selznick is the founder of Selznick Scientific Software, best known for the PasswordWallet family of programs. He’s also the joker who once sent us a gallon of amazing kosher dill pickles after hearing Adam’s “Hacking the Press” talk at MacHack.]
David Shayer — I’ve been reading TidBITS since it was sent out by carrier pigeon. In those days it arrived once a week, with all the latest Mac news. It was far more timely than the monthly Macworld and MacUser magazines, with their long lead times.
When I finally wrote an article for TidBITS, it was great (see “Shootout at the Disk Repair Corral,” 24 November 2003)! Instant fame and fortune, people stopped me on the street and asked for my autograph. But Adam tricked me. He said writing an article wasn’t much work. Turned out there was a lot of research and fact checking involved. [True, but that was a most amazing article, and one that received a vast number of positive reactions. -Adam]
I value the news and reviews in TidBITS because I know they’re honest and unbiased. Probably the single most useful article I’ve read in TidBITS was Joe Kissell’s explanation of how to make Apple’s Mail program work well with Gmail and IMAP (see “Achieving Email Bliss with IMAP, Gmail, and Apple Mail,” 2 May 2009). It saved me many hours.
[David “if you’re using white earbuds, you’re running my code” Shayer is a long-time Mac developer acclaimed for his knowledge of filesystems thanks to his work on the low-level disk editor Sedit, the disk-repair program Public Utilities, and three versions of Norton Utilities for Macintosh.]
Peter Sichel — I first learned about TidBITS from a colleague at Digital Equipment Corporation around 1993. I used Macs extensively at Digital and became part of a small group of Mac fans at an increasingly PC-dominated company. Talking one day with my fellow Mac-heads, we lamented the lack of a software IP router for the Mac. We all had several machines at home and increasingly needed them to be on the Internet. I knew from Apple that more than half of all Mac users owned more than one Mac, and that TidBITS was being sent weekly to over 50,000 subscribers who must therefore have Internet access. From these numbers I concluded there was a market for at least a few thousand software IP routers, so in 1996 I
set off to write one. In this way, TidBITS helped launch Sustainable Softworks and IPNetRouter.
TidBITS has always been about serving the Mac community by bringing people and information together. Congratulations on reaching 20 years!
[Peter Sichel is the founder of Sustainable Softworks and the developer of IPNetRouterX, IPNetMonitorX, IPNetTunerX, KeyClick and Phone Amego.]
Rich Siegel — The TidBITS email newsletter has been a part of my ongoing computing existence for longer than I can clearly recall. According to Adam, our first in-person meeting was at a party “in a pool hall, at Macworld Boston”. Putting some equally fuzzy memories together suggests that the place was Jillian’s, and the year would have been 1988, and the party was probably a Symantec company function.
A much more memorable occasion was the time that Adam and Tonya drove the hundreds of miles from Ithaca to Boston, to attend a dinner that we were throwing to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the first commercial release of BBEdit. That was a lot of fun, and it was that much more so because these two wonderful people made the trip to be a part of it.
Before then, since, and in between, I have always enjoyed the news and reviews and analysis that TidBITS deposits in my inbox on a continual basis. My thanks and congratulations to Adam and Tonya and all of the TidBITS staff and contributors, for a great twenty years. Here’s to the next twenty!
[Rich Siegel is the founder of Bare Bones Software and the creator of BBEdit.]
Jason Snell — I honestly can’t remember how I first heard about TidBITS, back in those strange days when the Internet was a big, echoey room largely populated by people on university campuses. I believe I heard about it from Geoff Duncan, a friend of Adam and Tonya’s (for his first article, see “Life in the Fast Lane,” 11 July 1994) and later a TidBITS editor himself (announced in “New TidBITS Managing Editor,” 12 December 1994), who was also the co-editor of InterText, an Internet-based short story magazine I had started in 1991.
In those days there was no Web to publish on, so we distributed InterText via FTP, newsgroup posting, and email, and I soon discovered that one of the only other publications out there back in the early ’90s was a newsletter about the Mac.
A few years later, as an assistant editor at MacUser (I note that Adam first mentioned me in “MacUser arrives on the Internet,” 20 June 1994), I was asked to speak with several of my colleagues at a meeting of a local Seattle-area Mac user group. The company paid to fly a bunch of us up and put us up in a nice hotel (man, those were the days!) and I got a chance to meet Geoff, Adam, and Tonya. It was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Also, the rental car company had inexplicably given me a Miata, and I remember Tonya being very enthusiastic about getting a ride in that crazy little car through the streets of greater Seattle.
These days I frequently receive email from people who aspire to write about technology in general (and Apple in particular) for a living, asking me how to get started. One of my most common suggestions is to try to break into TidBITS. Back when I was starting at MacUser, we didn’t have a Web site for me to use as an outlet – just a very limited number of pages in print. So I wrote a couple of articles for TidBITS on topics that interested me (and the editors of TidBITS, thankfully). Apparently in 1995 I was interested in Macintosh mailing list programs (“Making a List: Mac List Servers Arrive,” 24 July 1995) and running classic video games on a Mac (“Retro Software: Everything Old Is New Again,” 18 December 1995).
These days, any TidBITS reader who pays close attention to the pages of Macworld and Macworld.com will discover a whole lot of familiar names. TidBITS is a magnet for quality technology writers, and we’ve found numerous key Macworld contributors through their excellent work for TidBITS.
It’s a colossal understatement to say that things have changed a bit since TidBITS and InterText were two of the handful of publications on the Internet. But TidBITS has adapted to the way the world has changed. Today, quite honestly, I don’t find myself reading TidBITS issues much – mostly because I’ve already read most of the articles on tidbits.com! But that’s not a bad thing. Some people want to get their information in a periodical, while others want it right away on the Web. As someone who edits a monthly print magazine and a Web site, I understand the importance of having both.
Here’s to another few decades – or kilo-issues or whatever other format gets invented – of great, balanced, sober, hype-free, and useful TidBITS content.
[Jason Snell is VP/Editorial Director of Macworld.]
Tom Standage — I’ve read TidBITS since the early 1990s, when I started using Macs. It must have been 1994, I suppose, when I first got Internet access… but you guys were on CompuServe before that, right? Those were the days of the Quadra and MacWEEK. Centuries ago.
I got my start in journalism freelancing for MacUser UK, among other publications. 15 years ago, I even wrote a piece for TidBITS about lightweight text editors (see “Word 6.0 – NOT!,” 10 April 1995). Having since moved into mainstream tech journalism at The Economist and then onto business writing more generally, I still enjoy reading TidBITS every Tuesday morning with my coffee. I’m still a Mac user after all these years, and I continue to do tech support for my Mac-using family and friends.
The funny thing is that I still write about Apple from time to time for The Economist – most recently, our cover on the iPad in January (“The Book of Jobs“). And Glenn Fleishman writes for our Technology Quarterly section sometimes. I relish the connection to the Mac community that TidBITS provides. Keep up the good work! Loved the iPad tips last week. You’ve done a good job of broadening your coverage from the Mac to include other Apple products.
[Tom Standage is the business affairs editor for The Economist.]
James Thomson — I first came across TidBITS in the early 1990s, alongside the Info-Mac Digest postings on comp.sys.mac.digest. For our younger readers, that’s a Usenet group – go look it up on your iPads. I was an avid reader, as it was one of the few sources of Mac journalism online.
Tonya reviewed DragThing in “Desktop Launchers, Part IV” (22 May 1995), calling it “a solid, easy, elegant application” – a quote I was so pleased with that it remains on my Web site almost 15 years later. Did I say 15 years? Okay, now I feel old… And PCalc was originally released in 1991, I think, which means I’m only a year behind TidBITS.
I remember meeting both Adam and Tonya at the post-WWDC parties held by Rick Holzgrafe of Solitaire Till Dawn fame. A very young Tristan was eating lemons from the tree, as if they were apples, and we rubbed shoulders and ate pizza with luminaries such as Jason Snell, Peter Lewis, and Quinn. Whatever happened to that Jason guy?
Congratulations on your 20th anniversary, and thank you for all your help and support over the years!
[James Thomson is a long-time Mac developer based in Scotland and founder of TLA Systems, which publishes DragThing and PCalc. In the late 1990s, he was on the Mac OS X Finder team at Apple and was the original engineer for the Dock.]
Neil Ticktin — Wow, 20 years. TidBITS, Adam, and Tonya have been part of the landscape for so long, I don’t even remember when we first met, or when TidBITS first appeared on my radar. One could easily talk about the unbelievably well written content, or the timeliness, reliability, and quality of our weekly glimpse into the Apple community. But what strikes me most about Adam, Tonya, and the rest of the team is how they stand out as people.
Credibility, integrity, and honesty are the first words that come to mind. It’s so often that we see in the media, particularly the general media, content slanted to serve the requests of an advertiser, rather than that of the reader. TidBITS bucks that trend, and I welcome reading the insights each issue.
MacTech may be one of the oldest Web sites and publications in the Mac market, but TidBITS is clearly the original and long-standing trailblazer for Internet publications.
Congratulations Adam, Tonya, and the entire TidBITS team!
[Neil Ticktin is the publisher and editor-in-chief of MacTech Magazine, MacTech.com, and MacNews.com.]
Adam and Tonya have been stalwart supporters of the Macintosh user group community for as long as I can remember – as sought-after speakers at User Group University and in the Apple User Group Lounge at more Macworld Expos than I can count, by allowing user groups to reprint TidBITS articles in their print newsletters, and as sponsors of the generous and effective Take Control user group program that provides review and raffle titles for user groups worldwide. How thrilling it was to find out that they live only two hours from my own user group, MUG ONE. To have a speaker of Adam’s caliber in our own upstate New York backyard is priceless, and he now presents to MUG ONE every year.
My favorite moment (of many) was having a quote from one of my Take Control reviews used as a promotional pull-quote on their Web site.
Best wishes for more decades of TidBITS goodness!
[Elsa Travisano is President of MUG ONE and chair of the Apple User Group Advisory Board.]
Khoi Vinh — It’s frightening to realize it’s been so long, but I’ve been reading TidBITS for 16 years now. It’s a tremendous comfort to see it landing in my inbox once a week, harkening back to those dark days when the Macintosh seemed on the edge of death. TidBITS was a great friend during that era, a reassuring reminder that others out there shared my passion for what technology could do if it was done superbly. Over the years I’ve turned to it again and again, and it always rewards me with something new, something unexpected, and, always, something really smart.
Congrats, Adam, and for many more years to come!
[Khoi Vinh is a graphic designer and the Design Director for NYTimes.com.]
Sharon Zardetto — It was at a Macworld Expo, for sure, but Boston, San Francisco… there were so many that they’ve all run together. I was either signing copies of “The Macintosh Bible” or hanging out at the MacUser booth schmoozing with various writers and editors when Adam and Tonya came up and introduced themselves. They certainly looked like teenagers, though when I do the math, they must have been a little bit older.
I remember a slight stab of jealousy (“Wow, if only the Mac had been invented when I was in college, what I could have done with it!”). And when I saw Adam’s “Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh” not long thereafter in a bookstore, I thought, “Hey, I met that guy and his wife!” and of course, I bought it. It’s amazing how seldom, in the small-ish “professional” Macintosh community, that our paths have crossed physically over the years; equally amazing, and so gratifying, is that electronic communications and personalities being what they are, Adam and Tonya feel like friends, not just colleagues.
The early TidBITS publications: I remember thinking how dedicated someone would have to be to do a plain-text, free newsletter on a regular basis, and how odd it was to read large chunks of Mac information on the screen instead of in print. Small chunks? Sure, I was sysoping in the Mac forums on CompuServe. But the equivalent of a newspaper article? TidBITS was my first exposure to that concept!
1,024 issues? You’ve been planning this all along, haven’t you?!
[Sharon Zardetto is best known in the Macintosh world for writing several editions of “The Macintosh Bible,” but she has also authored a number of Take Control titles and innumerable magazine articles about the Mac over the years, including some for TidBITS.]