Fifteen Years Ago Today, Techdirt Was Born

from the feeling-old dept

We don't tend to be too sentimental about these things, but a few weeks back, I realized that we were rapidly approaching the 15th anniversary of the start of Techdirt in its earliest form. On August 23rd, 1997, I sent out the very first "Up To Date" email newsletter, which was roughly modeled on Danny O'Brien's much more clever and much more knowledgeable (and sadly missed) Need to Know newsletter (for what it's worth, Danny discovered my mimicry a few months later, and has always been quite kind about it). The very first newsletter was sent to -- I believe -- three people, and was really an alpha test of the concept. It's obviously quite different from what Techdirt became, but you can also see some inklings. Some of the things in the newsletter were silly (underestimating HTTP as a protocol? Oops!). Some were pretty good predictions (CNET's SNAP portal being a joke, Netscape trying to charge for its browser being a recipe for failure).

Either way, today marks 15 years of doing this in one form or another. One week after this initial test, the newsletter went out to about 100 people -- mostly fellow students at Cornell's business school. A month later we were up to about 1,000 subscribers, and it built from there. By February of the next year the website finally came into existence (and with it, the Techdirt name, which beat out my second choice "bluedot" because a friend told me that sounded boring, while Techdirt sounded edgy). A year after that, the site itself morphed into a blog -- though the word "blog" still didn't exist -- using Slashcode 0.3 (which was a complete mess). And within a few years it was a part of my full time job.

Anyway, I wanted to share the moment, as I figured some of you might get a kick out of seeing that original offering. We're hoping to put together some sort of gathering in the fall to celebrate this anniversary (too much stuff going on to have it coincide with the actual date) and we'll share more info on that as we finalize those plans. Either way, none of the last 15 years happens without you folks being dedicated readers, commenters, submitters, link spreaders, etc. From starting out with a total audience of 3 people to the millions who now read our content every month, it's been quite a ride so far, and I hope to continue going strong for at least another fifteen years.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Vog (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 10:29am

    Rev. Pirate Mike: Preaching freetard "ethics" for fifteen years strong! Someone get him his complimentary parrot and a bottle of Kool-Aid!

    YAAAAARRRRRRRRR!

    (Congrats, Techdirt!)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 10:38am

    Hmm, let's see

    Coincidentally, I'm fairly certain that fifteen years ago this day, I was fifteen years old and saw my very first real life, in-person booby. In other words, it's nice and rather synergistic that this is a meaningful day for the both of us.

    Kidding aside, congrats Techdirt and Techdirt-ers. I couldn't be prouder to be a small part of it....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Atkray (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 10:58am

    Someone with some art skills design a shirt/hoodie for Mike's family that says "My dad/husband ran a blog for 15 years and all I got was this lousy shirt" bonus points if you include the "Eagle" on it.


    Gratzies.

     

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  4.  
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    Mesonoxian Eve (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 11:40am

    Do we get cake?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
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    SD (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 11:51am

    Re:

    The cake is a lie.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
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    sehlat (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 11:54am

    *singing*

    Happy Birthday,
    Happy Birthday,
    Mongol wisdom you must learn,
    First you pillage, then you burn,
    Happy Birthday.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 11:55am

    Re: Re:

    But the pie is nigh....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 12:00pm

    Well done and thanks, Mr. Masnick. Here's to many more years.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Re:

    The cake is FUD!
    It's also food.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Chris ODonnell (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 12:02pm

    Congrats! I think I found Techdirt right around 2000 or maybe 2001.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
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    Zakida Paul (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 12:09pm

    15 years old.

    No wonder there is a lot of acne (idiot trolls).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
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    Mesonoxian Eve (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 12:14pm

    Re: Re:

    11 minutes. Shameful. I expected two minutes or less. ;)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 12:17pm

    Good job, and thanks.

    So funny. About a month or so ago I decided to take a look at the first TD article. It was fun to go along and see the evolution of TD.

    What really appealed to me about TD was the totally open comments section. No email/password nothing. I could come here and join in the conversations with no roadblocks. No held for moderation. Just a free and open community that was passionate about fair copyright and government law. A non conspiracy look at the absurd laws being written that remove freedoms and culture.

    I was hooked. And to this day I still read every article.
    Thanks guys.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
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    Blatant Coward (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 12:25pm

    Wout!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
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    dolphin (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 12:32pm

    "roughly modeled"

    Proof that you have been a nasty dirty pirate, right from day 1!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    Trails (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 12:38pm

    Wow

    "August 23rd, 1997"

    I'm fairly certain I was a really stoned teenager on that date. You old, Mike.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Mike Martinet (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 12:43pm

    Huzzah!

    Congratulations Mike!

    I've been reading Techdirt religiously since 2005.

    Thanks!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
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    DannyB (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 12:49pm

    Re:

    You wouldn't download a cake would you?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
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    DannyB (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 12:51pm

    Congratulations.

    I don't remember when I first started reading, but it was a good while before I created an account.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 12:52pm

    Happy Birthday!

    And many, many more.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward With A Unique Writing Style, Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 12:54pm

    Well, I haven't been around as some of the people here (only about 2 years now). But congratulations, Mike!

    August 23, 1997. I was all of 12 years and 6 days old on that date. Sheesh. I was a young'un.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 12:57pm

    I haven't been following this blog for very long (Only got started when SOPA/PIPA first started getting more word), but it's been great. Congratulations, guys, and here's to at least a few more years of going strong!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 12:59pm

    Re: Re:

    yes. and the ice cream to go with it too.

     

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  24.  
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    Jay (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 1:00pm

    Interesting

    Maybe I'm more interested in the business side for my own good, but I would love to hear about how you created this into a full time job. I do have to congratulate a person that has a very successful community that was built up over time.

    Here's to another 15 years from you Mike with great reporting. :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
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    The eejit (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Well, maybe if the ice-cream's low-fat. I'm on a diet.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 1:24pm

    Congrats Mike.

    Here's to fifteen more!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 1:28pm

    Re: Hmm, let's see

    Dang. I'm old.

    My oldest boy would have about 13 then (and also fixated on boobies).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
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    derfaust, Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 2:06pm

    fucking cool......

    Thanks for ALL the fish!....

    all 15 years of it..... someone open a window.....its starting to smell in here!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    Unanimous Cow Herd (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 2:23pm

    Happy Birthday, TD!

    Happy Birthday, TD!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 2:25pm

    Re: Re: Hmm, let's see

    Thanks for making me feel young! My eldest was 6 then.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
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    Dan (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 2:56pm

    Poor trolls

    After 15 years, if we account holders can't get Mike to shut up, what chance do the trolls have? Poor trolls...

    There is that millions of dollars thing.....Biden could charge it...

    Happy Birthday TD!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    Moonpye (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 3:10pm

    HAPPY!!

    BIRTHDAY!!!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
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    Derek Kerton (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 3:13pm

    I got that second week's newsletter

    ...and I forgot to tell you, Mike, there was a typo in the second story:

    its instead of it's.

    Please correct.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
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    Vidiot (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 4:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Hmm, let's see

    I think that's when I first needed reading glasses. We need geezer badges on our avatars.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
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    MahaliaShere (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 4:14pm

    15? Wow. Congrats. I would sing Happy Birthday, but you know... infringement and all that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
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    Vidiot (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 4:14pm

    Hear, hear

    Your work is much appreciated... validates and bolsters positions I couldn't explain or justify six or seven years ago. And what form will it all take in another 15?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 4:14pm

    Re: I got that second week's newsletter

    That's right... Derek's one of the original bunch and has stuck around the whole time... And, good catch. :) I actually saw that typo and debated fixing it before posting this, but I worried about what making a change to an article that old might do to the system.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Hans, Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 4:53pm

    Thank you for your for labors to keep us informed
    and to maintain our liberties....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 4:58pm

    Happy Birthday!

    I'm having some cake in your honor! (Any excuse to have my cake and eat it too.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 5:01pm

    "15 years ago MAFIAA's nightmare was born" new Hollywood movie soon

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 5:11pm

    monumental waste of 15 years

    in those LONG years, what have you achieved ?? looks like basically NOTHING.. .

    I wonder what the next 15 years will bring you in the way of achievments..

    how very very sad,

    15 years of winging, and still no one cares.. I wonder why after 15 years of calling for reforms and changes, none have gone your way.. seems the opposite allways happens from what you say is going to happen..

    Long live HTTP, possibly you should have given up then, and actually goten a real job.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
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    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 5:40pm

    The more things change

    The more they stay the same... :-) Thanks for (re)posting the original Mike! And congratulations on 15 years real time - that's about 10,000 years in internet time!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
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    The Groove Tiger (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 6:29pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Oh yeah and happy fifteenversary.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 7:18pm

    Nothing beats coming home from work and catching up on news that is actually interesting. Thanks for making it happen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
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    ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 23rd, 2012 @ 9:48pm

    Damn

    I've been called an old timer, and I've only been posting since '07 or so.

    Happy Birthday! Soon Techdirt will be able to vote, like all native persons.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
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    btrussell (profile), Aug 24th, 2012 @ 3:12am

    Happy Birthday!

    My Uncle has the patent on Aug. 23 birthdays.

    Has proof of prior art as well.

    Expect his lawyers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 24th, 2012 @ 3:37am

    Re:

    Motherfucking Eagles yeah!

    I'd make a t-shirt with the sayings:

    Techdirt: 15 years of tech, dirt and a whole lot of trolling!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
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    Ninja (profile), Aug 24th, 2012 @ 3:40am

    Nice, happy birthday TD! Keep up with the marvelous work!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    icon
    btrussell (profile), Aug 24th, 2012 @ 3:40am

    Happy Birthday!

    My Uncle has the patent on Aug. 23 birthdays.

    Has proof of prior art as well.

    Expect his lawyers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 24th, 2012 @ 5:27am

    Re: monumental waste of 15 years

    "15 years of winging"

    15 years of WINGING?!??! But we only JUST released motha fucking eagles on all yer asses, yo!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
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    Laroquod (profile), Aug 24th, 2012 @ 5:31am

    Happy belated, Techdirt! If you did not already exist so perfectly, it would be necessary for somebody to invent you.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2012 @ 5:56am

    Yea!! Happy Birthday and many more!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2012 @ 6:07am

    Congratulations Techdirt.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    EF, Aug 24th, 2012 @ 6:31am

    Happy Anniversary!

    Mike and team, Techdirt has been a part of my daily read for only 4 years but I look forward to it everyday. I share links to Techdirt with friends and on public forums. Thank you all for your insight, excellent writing, common sense and for the entertainment; it's great content!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
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    Gwiz (profile), Aug 24th, 2012 @ 8:51am

    Re: monumental waste of 15 years

    in those LONG years, what have you achieved ?? looks like basically NOTHING.. .

    Those black and white goggles you view the world through must really get annoying when you want to watch a stunning sunset or experience a beautiful garden.


    I wonder what the next 15 years will bring you in the way of achievments..

    Me too.


    how very very sad,

    Wait. You are sad about Mike's achievements? You must live a lonely life.


    15 years of winging, and still no one cares...

    Well, except for the thousands who read Techdirt that is.


    ...I wonder why after 15 years of calling for reforms and changes, none have gone your way.. seems the opposite allways happens from what you say is going to happen..

    Really? One word for you...SOPA.


    Long live HTTP, possibly you should have given up then, and actually goten a real job.

    Wait. Mike's doesn't have a real job. Someone should tell his employees and family that. They must all be living off of some sort of fake money or something.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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