history of TMO

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    Posted: 28 January 2006 10:17 AM

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    Here’s hoping this hasn’t been posted or suggested before. In any case, I joined TMO about two and a half years ago, and am truly impressed by how much it has grown since then. (It’s not every Mac enthusiast site that has contact with Apple reps.)

    I’d love to see a history of TMO: when and how it got started, important dates (such as when important staff members came on board), how TMO grew its advertising base, the technical history of the site itself (were forums always a part? ADKC? etc.), the birth of iPodObserver, etc.

    For fans of TMO, I think this would be both informative and entertaining. For web designers interested in building community sites, even more so. TMO is a great community, and I for one would love to know the story behind how it all happened.

    Please delete if this is at all inappropriate.

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    mrmwebmax (formerly mrmgraphics)
    Max out your site! mrmwebmax.com

         
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    Posted: 17 February 2006 02:03 PM #1

    Hey, missed this post before.

    I can give you the short version of it right now:

    The site is the successor to Webintosh, founded by Dan Hughes in January of 1997.  18 months later, he was burned out, and sold the site to me. I brought in Dave Hamilton as a business partner, and we changed the name to The Mac Observer on December 28th, 1998.

    It’s through Dave’s gift in business management that we managed to hang in during the tech bust of 1999, and though I tend get most of the credit from the public for TMO because of the content, we not only wouldn’t be what we are today without him, we wouldn’t be here at all if it were not for his hard work behind the scenes.

    Our first Assistant Editor was Kyle D’Addario, but Apple stole him as one of the first Mac Geniuses when the Crossgates Apple Store was opened.  I am still bitter about that… smile

    I don’t have the exact dates in front of me, but we’ve had a variety of very talented writers writing for us throughout the years, including (but not limited to) Bob LeVitus, Ted Landau, Andy Ihnatko, Rodney O. Lain, Nancy Carroll Gravley, Vern Seward, John F. Braun, The Idiots (Gary Randazzo and Randy Soare), Wes George, John Kheit, Eolake Stobblehouse, Mike Washlesky, Jon Simon, Bill Troop, Tim Hillman, Todd Stauffer, Michael Munger, Owen Linzmayer, Arlen Britton, and a host of other folks who have written some great editorials for us.

    In 2003, we decided to make an investment into more traditional journalism, and we brought Brad Gibson on board.  He eventually became News Director for the site, and helped us revamp the way we handle news.  Brad has left to pursue other opportunities (not a euphemism), but still contributes articles to the site today.

    It was 2003 when Misha Sakellaropoulo joined us, too.  He has had a variety of roles with us (substitute editor, news editor, reporter, trade show god, and several others), but his most recent role has been in developing and managing the reviews at iPodObserver.  He’s been doing a great job of that, and is a hugely important part of our team.

    In 2005, Brad Cook came on as Afternoon Editor, and Jeff Gamet signed on as Morning Editor in November of 2005.  That gives us the strongest team we’ve ever had.

    Of course, it would be foolish of me to omit The Evil Girls of TMO™, one of whom is my lovely girflriend!  Raena Armitage (not my GF) and Darla Sasaki (GF) have both been instrumental in the growth of TMO at various stages, and have written for us, offered advice and story ideas, and been amazingly supportive through the years (each in their own ways, of course).

    Indeed, I met Darla through these very forums, and the four years+ since then have been the best years of my life. smile

    Also, Raena designed the current iteration of TMO’s design!
    Also, Gavin Mahan, Dan Miller, Robert Leitao, Stephen Swift, Michael Mendelson, Nick DiPiero, Brian Wheels, and several others have contributed to the site and community in a variety of ways.

    It was 2003 when we had the opportunity to launch DealsOnTheWeb.com , differentiating our product offering greatly.

    In late 2004/early 2005, we decided it was time to launch our own iPod site, and we set about the multi-month process of putting a news site together.  We launched iPodObserver in late May of that year, and haven’t looked back.  iPO has allowed me to express my musical geek to some extent (and w00t! for GarageBand!), and I am quite proud with what we have done with it.

    Our forums were launched in…1998? I forget now. Actually, it was probably 1999, or early 2000.  We had forums before that, but they were an UGLY mess.  Because of that, I spent a couple of months hanging out in other forums trying to find out what it was that made forums successful.  I don’t know that I found that formula, but I did discover what it was that I liked about forums, and more specifically, what it was I didn’t like.

    Accordingly, I set about to build a forum community that would be the kind of place where I wanted to hang out. Fortunately, we had some great people adopt us from the beginning, people who shared some of the ideas I had about a good forum community.  They helped me set the kind of environment we all wanted, and the results have been spectacular, IMNHO. I think we have the best forum in the Mac world, though it’s hardly the biggest (not even close). We have the smartest people and some of the smartest conversation anywhere.

    On the ad side, we started off selling our own ads, which led to the formation of BackBeat Media (I helped found the company, but sold my interest back to other principals early on).  BackBeat has since grown to be one of the most respected ad companies on the Internet, and the largest in the Mac Web.  BBM has been a big part of our success in recent years.

    I am sure I have left out some important folks, a definite omission on my part, and not a slight.  TMO has been built with the help of many, many talented and good people, all of whom have contributed to our success in one way or another.  If I did leave out any names, post them here, or let me know!

    Oh, and I realize that wasn’t really the short version. smile

    [Edited to include Misha Sakellaropoulo’s info - Bryan]

    [Edited to include The Evil Girls of TMO™ (doh!), and several other great people - Bryan]

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    Editor - The Mac Observer

    Favorite (but less relevant than it used to be) Quote: Microsoft’s tyranny lies not in its success, but in the way it achieved and maintains that success.

         
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    Posted: 18 February 2006 05:38 AM #2

    I guess that Bryan’s page about how he came to use a Mac could give you some additional information about the origins of TMO.

    It’s one hell of a great site, anyhow.

         
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    Posted: 19 February 2006 03:18 AM #3

    Ah, thanks, macinnerd. I had forgotten about that column, and it does tell a lot about me, my Mac use, and even TMO.

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    Editor - The Mac Observer

    Favorite (but less relevant than it used to be) Quote: Microsoft’s tyranny lies not in its success, but in the way it achieved and maintains that success.

         
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    Posted: 19 February 2006 10:50 AM #4

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    Many thanks, Bryan, for the detailed reply. I agree with you that TMO’s are the best Mac forums on the web, if not the best forums of any kind. And that comes from a CompuServe veteran (and former employee) whose use of forums pre-dates the web itself!

    It’s your news articles, of course, that drives TMO, and what impresses me most is that your slogan (you’ll get your Mac news here from now on) has become my reality. I used to bounce back and forth between three different Mac enthusiast/news sites (not rumor sites, with no offense meant towards them), and now I find that TMO always has the news first, so this is the only place I need to visit. That certainly wasn’t the case when I first joined, so kudos to you and your staff.

    I’ll be sure to check out the Back Page article macinnerd mentioned, as I’m sure that will also prove both entertaining and informative.

    And speaking of informative, my personal thanks to all of the forum members who help me out whenever I need help, especially in Web/HTML areas. (Although I might soon post a horrifically newbie question on iPodObserver regarding getting pics onto my 5G iPod….)

    On an iPod-related note, as a companion to ADKC, any thoughts on an iPod/iTMS-killer counter? This, IMHO, wouldn’t have the same emotional impact as ADKC: The ADKC gives all of us Mac loyalists a shot in the arm when we remember how Apple nearly bit the big one in 1997 while we maintained our faith. The iPodKillerCount (iPiTMSkC???) would be sheer amusement only, as we get to laugh at those who proclaimed products like the Sony Bean as the next sure-fire iPod killer; the Amazon Music Store the next iTMS killer, etc.

    Just a thought, but it seems iPod/iTMS-killer articles are being released on an almost daily basis. It might be fun to collect them all in one place, with follow-ups at to when said Killer product was pulled from the market. IMHO….

    Keep up the good work. I’ll definitely be here.  :D

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    mrmwebmax (formerly mrmgraphics)
    Max out your site! mrmwebmax.com

         
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    Posted: 28 February 2006 09:51 PM #5

    Clearly I’ve been AFK for a while, or I would have noticed that Bryan completely omitted me from the history of TMO!  wink

    After all, I joined the forums in very late 2001, and because of me, TMO got to cover the final Macworld Tokyo, and the statistical probabilities of sappy, romantic posts in the Lounge skyrocketed through the virtual roof.  :eg:

    I am also the laziest writer/mod/IRC op here at TMO towers, though I will continue to consume more TMO lobster than anyone else.  Huzzah!

    Actually, come to think of it, I think all the Evil™ was left out…

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    Still evil, after all these years.!

         
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    Posted: 01 March 2006 02:26 AM #6

    The Evil™ seems to have lost its powers. How soon we all forget now that we’re no longer daily gripped by its diabolical .... um ... Evil™.

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    Brian

    It depends on what you look at, obviously,
    But even more it depends on the way that you see

         
  • Posted: 01 March 2006 04:29 AM #7

    [quote author=“bweels”]The Evil™ seems to have lost its powers. How soon we all forget now that we’re no longer daily gripped by its diabolical .... um ... Evil™.

    All thanks to the now-forgotten hard work of the Handsome Brute Patrol™.  :groucho: Ah, how soon they forget, Seagoon.

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    Posted: 01 March 2006 03:22 PM #8

    [quote author=“bweels”]The Evil™ seems to have lost its powers. How soon we all forget now that we’re no longer daily gripped by its diabolical .... um ... Evil™.

    I’ll grip you!

    Umm…I’m not sure what that means, but it seems naughty…

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    Still evil, after all these years.!

         
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    Posted: 01 March 2006 03:48 PM #9

    See, that’s what I’m saying. Is naughty all you can muster? Naughty is nice, but it’s just not the same as Evil™. raspberry

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    Brian

    It depends on what you look at, obviously,
    But even more it depends on the way that you see

         
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    Posted: 29 September 2006 11:55 PM #10

    Evil is tired.

    Evil needs beer.

    Luckily, Evil has beer.

    Evil and Editor in Chief are getting married.  I think this is the first TMO-induced wedding, so that’s got to hit the history books somehow.  And tbone getting married should also be a historical (hysterical?) fact that shouldn’t be overlooked.  Here we all are, statistical improbabilities all.

    Also, for whatever reason, it just came to my mind that we left out the history of starting the IRC channel.

    #macobserver was long in the works from my end, and it required a lot of convincing with Bryan, but we have a fun little community over on irc.macobserver.com.  You can come over and learn more than you’d ever want to know about several of the folks here at TMO (I’m talking to you, FlatEric and jvarner!).

    The channel debuted at the beginning of November, 2002.  We bumbled around for a while, but caught our stride and quickly became the number one IRC channel for wombat and trebuchet discussion* as well as a good place to gather during keynote events and product announcements.

    There was a mad-crazy RoboJinkies that ran rampant for a while, while RoboEric and RoboVarner still work in kindness and harmony (mostly) with the rest of the channel.  #macobserver is a pretty place, with shrubbery and a little path running down the middle.

    * completely unproven statistic made up by me

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    Still evil, after all these years.!

         
  • Posted: 03 October 2006 09:27 AM #11

    [quote author=“jinkies”]
    I’ll grip you!

    Umm…I’m not sure what that means, but it seems naughty…

    s/seems/is/;

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    Work is the curse of the drinking classes.
    - Oscar Wilde

         
  • Posted: 03 October 2006 09:35 AM #12

    [quote author=“jinkies”]Evil is tired.

    Evil needs beer.

    Luckily, Evil has beer.

    Ah, beer. The solution to, and cause of, all our life’s problems.

    [quote author=“jinkies”]
    Evil and Editor in Chief are getting married.  I think this is the first TMO-induced wedding, so that’s got to hit the history books somehow.  And tbone getting married should also be a historical (hysterical?) fact that shouldn’t be overlooked.

    No kidding. After SWMBO and I announced our engagement, quite a few friends and acquaintances expressed surprise. I remember a long-time friend of my parents saying “I never thought I’d hear that.” SWMBO’s response: “Why does everyone keep saying that?”

    The best part is, our family is growing . Yes, I am now influencing even MORE young minds. All part of my plan to take over the world with superior wombatic activity.

    [NOTE: This post was editted to remove references to the highly super-secret and expensive location of our French-provided WMDs: Wombats of Mass Destruction.]

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    Work is the curse of the drinking classes.
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    Posted: 03 October 2006 11:16 AM #13

    [quote author=“tbone1”]The best part is, our family is growing .

    Woah I want laser eye balls.

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