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.