Jim Matthews, author of Fetch, has penned a blog post that looks back at the file transfer app’s 30-year history, starting with the release of 1.0 on 1 September 1989. I don’t remember my earliest history with Fetch, but when I wrote Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh in 1993, it was my favorite FTP client and I was able to bundle it with the book. In fact, the book announcement—“Administrivia” (13 September 1993)—was the first mention of Fetch in TidBITS as well. It was nice to be reminded of other early FTP apps too, like the FTP client that Amanda Walker built into the integrated Internet app TCP/Connect and HyperFTP from Doug Hornig at Cornell. (Peter Lewis’s Anarchie, later called Interarchy, which became Fetch’s primary competition in later years, didn’t ship until 1994.)
In the post, Jim talks bluntly about why Fetch has faded from view over the past decade. Along with file transfer apps becoming less necessary overall, he made the classic mistake of thinking it would be a good idea to rewrite Fetch’s code from scratch, a task that he proved incapable of completing. Instead, he is now porting Fetch’s ancient Carbon code to Cocoa to create an update that will be able to run in macOS 10.15 Catalina. It won’t be the long-anticipated Fetch 6, but just Fetch 5.8, and it’s only in beta testing now. File transfer apps may no longer be as essential as they were 10 or 20 years ago, but it’s still good to see Jim teaching an old dog new 64-bit tricks.