We live in a different world from 1990, when the first issue of TidBITS covered an update to the After Dark screensaver, refilling HP DeskWriter ink cartridges, the Lotus-Novell merger, an accelerator/monitor combo for the Macintosh SE, the first 3.5-inch erasable optical drive (priced at $2,995 and supporting 128 MB disks that cost $129), and a wireless networking product that predated Wi-Fi by 9 years but ran at only 38.4 Kbps.
But you know, even that first issue still feels like the TidBITS you read today, 1,220 issues and 24 years later. That’s right, this week marks our 24th year of continuous publication, and here I am, adding to our book-length collection of previous anniversary articles, the more general of which could have been written yesterday. Great stories abound in that series, and I’d encourage anyone interested in lessons from our past or a trip down memory lane to read through.
The main realization Tonya and I had of late, after talking with a number of Apple industry media folks at Macworld/iWorld 2014, is that TidBITS is a bit unusual among small technology publications in that everyone on our staff is a full-time professional writer. None of us has a day job to get in the way or to provide a safety net to fall back on. That’s not a criticism of those for whom technology writing must play second fiddle to another career — such passion is entirely commendable.
But Tonya and I are also proud that we’ve been able to build enough of a business around TidBITS and Take Control that we can help so many of these people earn a living doing what they love, which is assisting others by explaining complex technical topics in a straightforward, understandable way. Also important is that we’ve been able to bring in other writers to broaden our coverage, including Geoff Duncan, Julio Ojeda-Zapata, Nick Mediati, Steve McCabe, Kirk McElhearn, Alicia Katz Pollock, and David Koff so far this year. At Macworld in March, a number of people commented that TidBITS seems to be stronger than ever, and I think that’s true.
The credit for enabling us to pay these authors for their hard work and fine writing goes to the more than 2,600 TidBITS members who have helped put TidBITS on a sustainable financial footing over the last few years. As grateful as we are to our current and past corporate sponsors for their support, our income from sponsorships in recent years has waned (sponsorships are hard to justify for companies selling apps for $0.99). In today’s world, the revenue from the TidBITS membership program has become essential for being able to afford both Josh Centers as managing editor and all the writers he wrangles to bring you top-notch content each week.
Having 2,600 people in the TidBITS membership program is great, but if you’re not already counted among that large and ever-increasing number, please join us! To sweeten the deal, we try to make memberships worthwhile beyond the satisfaction that comes with supporting our editorial mission. Did you know members get a full text RSS feed and the option to receive articles in email as they’re posted? Members also get a banner-free version of the TidBITS Web site, chapter-by-chapter streamed ebooks for free, a standing 30-percent discount on all Take Control ebooks, and discounts on leading Mac apps.
If you find TidBITS useful and enjoyable — we work hard to produce articles that fit that description — or if you’ve received personal assistance from one of our staff members just because you asked, please become a TidBITS member. It’s hard to imagine publishing TidBITS for another 24 years — Tonya and I would be 70! — but we have no plans to quit. As long as you, our readers, continue to back our work, we’ll keep writing for you. Thanks!