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Counting down to TechRepublic's 10th Anniversary

You can't measure the lifespan of most Web sites in Dog Years. They usually don't last that long. On the other hand, TechRepublic just passed its 9th Birthday earlier this month and is closing in on its 10th Anniversary. Here's a brief recap of how TR got started and what we'll do as the big 1-0 gets closer.

You probably didn't realize it, but TechRepublic recently celebrated its 9th Birthday. The TechRepublic Web site launched in the first week of April 1999, back in the days of the DotCom boom when such Internet Giants as Pets.com roamed the planet.

If you check out any user's profile on TechRepublic, you'll see the date they first became a TechRepublic member. For example, my profile says that I've been TechRepublic member since April 1999 - specifically April 16, 1999. Another TechRepublic editor here, Jody Gilbert, has been a TechRepublic member since April 8, 1999. There are a few profiles on here which have an earlier date, but not many. And almost all of them are current or former employees. The only reason I didn't get an earlier Join date was because I was on vacation. Darn.

Even though the TechRepublic Web site is only 9 years old, it began as an entity that formed over 10 years ago. TechRepublic started life as NarrowCast Concepts, which was created by former Cobb Group co-founder Tom Cottingham. The Cobb Group was a publisher of paper-based technical journals that were tightly focused on individual products or technologies such as NetWare and Windows NT.

After Ziff-Davis purchased The Cobb Group, Tom hung around a few years and then decided to leave. A few former Cobb Group executives went with him and they founded NarrowCast Concepts. Tom was initially under a no-compete agreement with Ziff-Davis, but that no-compete expired about the same time that ZD decided to shutter The Cobb Group (by now renamed ZDJournals) and move it to Rochester NY. Tom took the opportunity to scoop up as many Cobb Group editors as he could and refocused NarrowCast as a ZDJournals competitor focusing on paper-based technical journals once again.

By now the Internet was taking off, and the best way to get venture capital funding was to be involved in the New Economy of the Internet rather than the Old Economy of publishing content on paper. With that, Tom refocused NarrowCast on the Internet, changed the name to TechRepublic and off we went. Eventually, TechRepublic was acquired by CNET Networks, which ironically had purchased ZDNet from Ziff-Davis a few years before. (Thus reuniting my 401k plan.)

Over the course of the next 12 months, we'll be building up to celebrate TechRepublic's 10 Anniversary on the Web. In an environment where Web sites have the lifespans of mayflies, 10 years will be a significant accomplishment that we won't let go by unheralded.

This was only the Reader's Digest version of the Reader's Digest version of TR's history. There will be more to say as the days count down. We'll talk to some of the people involved in the early days of TR, hear what members have had to say about it, and relive some of the great and not-so-great moments in TR History.

66 comments
Ed Woychowsky
Ed Woychowsky

A couple of articles on some of the early folks, sort of a "Where are they now?"

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Post you Top Ten 'X' on the 10th month, 10th day. Winner gets....

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

My congratulations and thanks to all the editorial staff, contributors, and peers who have made TR what it is today. So, what kind of swag do the first however-many-it-takes-to-get-to-me members get? I could swear I heard something about "Charter Member" t-shirts (hint hint)! ;\

dawgit
dawgit

I vaguely remember turning 10. (maybe) I want some Ice cream and cake. Coffee for all. In TR aniversary cups naturally :^0 -d

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

We didn't really make any big announcement on the site, but TechRepublic recently celebrated its 9th Birthday. In Classics Rock, I mentioned that we're not going to let the 10th Anniversary pass unnoticed however. http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/classic-tech/?p=120 We'll be counting down all year towards TR reaching the big 1-0. Check out the very brief history of TR in that post and add your memories of TR to the Comment Section here.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

That's a pretty good idea. Assuming some of them will still talk to us. *chuckle* Several former TechRepublic employees are still contributors to the site. Jack Wallen and Erik Eckel are two of them. And of course we can't forget our Once And Future Geek, Jay Garmon.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

Oh, I'm sure we'll have lots of 10 Things lists on the site to celebrate the 10th Anniversary. It's been a very popular series. So popular as a matter of fact, since we introduced it, you may have noticed similar concepts popping up on some of our competitors...

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

Well, lets see... the site launched in April. That means probably a "Charter Member" would be in the first 6 months, right? Oh... darn... your start date was 11/99. Ain't that always the way? *chuckle* We havent gotten so far as to figure out what kind of goodies we'll give away, if any. Y'know how budgets can be. I'm sure there will be something up for grabs to celebrate the anniversary though!

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

TR mugs for all TechRepublic members? I doubt that CNET would go for that idea very much. Now, if this was 1999 when money came from the sky like rain, I bet we could have been able to do that! We certainly did crazier things...

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Anyone with a newer notebook or PC usually gets a camera, if not many others have added one by now. A giant netmeeting with all the TR gang logging in with webcams to a Brady Bunch setup. then TR just has to fork out to rent a conference bridge and you're good to go.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Though my member info states since 2000, I know it was a couple of years before that. When teh site was revamped some 5+ years ago, the info was pretty much lost and Smorty decided to come up with near guesses for some people, which was fine by me. I was here before I was OzMedia too, unfortunately i didn`t get into the site and just got some info and disappeared again, forgetting login info and eve which email addy I had used, in which case 2000 is a near guess anyway. Over the years, I have laughed and laughed some more, don`t think TR has ever made me cry though or even got me very upset, it`s all a lark really. The site has grown and improved immensely, unfortunately a lot of the old crowd is now gone, some great minds and interesting topics, with a few popping back in from time to time. The new crowd here is far more liberal though, there is a lot more emotion, less fact finding and the topics are broader than before, so each has its merits. VERY pis$ed to hear that Shawn and Jay are gone now, that was NOT a favorable move when it comes to the community that BUILT TR, without us (the TR community), like it or not, there wouldn`t be a TR. There`s no way you`d be seeing the sponsorship and corporate support without the peers here; so that, in my eyes, was a very stupid and very inconsiderate move towards the people who made this site a success...including Jay and Shawn of course, who made the new TR work for the peers as well as the sponsors. There must be some dick, big-wank at C-Net who gets paid too much to do some meaningless job, why not ditch HIS salary and keep the orchestra together(question mark)sorry, keyboard is `ked up again and locked into French characters that won`t shut off while I am logged into a forum. I think TR`s come a long way, the site is beter AND worse, in many ways than when I first came here. All in all it`s a hoot though.

JamesRL
JamesRL

You are going to have to look up my original account. I could give you my email addresses from back then to confirm. I know I started some time in 99, not sure when though. James

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

We were pushing for swag when th site was new, NO GO. We were pushing for teh secret prizes we were supposed to buy with our hard earned tech Points, "it'll happen soon"...never did. It took a contest several years later to finally have Jay push them for some mugs and shirts, which were diligently taken care of (again by Jay). I can't see it happening now, by any means, but I sure as heck didn't see it back then either.

The Scummy One
The Scummy One

getting a jumpstart on making one:D Make them and then sell them in the store (make it known) the 10 Yr. anniversary TR Mug -- likely a HOT item (especially if y'all figure out how to ship 'em overseas :^0 )

maecuff
maecuff

I seem to remember, that on one of my very first posts, someone called OzMedia told me that I didn't know what I was talking about. And I like him anyway. :)

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

not directly commenting on actual computing technology, got the boot!

maxwell edison
maxwell edison

Now I don't mean the occasional lobbing of a harmless insult or two, but the first full-fledged flame war. When, what and who? That might have been between ..... um ...... trying to remember ..... Who would really want to take the credit (or blame) for that?

deepsand
deepsand

the question is, when did she know? Before or after selecting the image?

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

And there is not real clear cut answer as it isn't in the same field. Gaming laws apply to games and contests, a customer/user appreciation award is not considered gaming, gmabling or a contest. It is no different than a company offerinig solid gold 10-year pins to it's employees. It's not agame or a contest, there is no prize, there is no chance of winning or not winning, it is the same as a service reward. When you get your internet connection from Telus, as a new subscriber, you now get a piece of crap Dell notebook for free. Under your rules, anyone else that has been an existing subscriber for ten years would be able to get one too. It is not descrimination, it is simply a marketing draw to attract new business.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

[i] What would you say if, from now on, all new members from today got a TR goodie bag? You would say - Hey no fair, I have been here for ages and.....well, I rest my case.[/i] Actually, I'd be more likely to ask when TR turned into a cellular provider. "Offer available to new subscribers only." :p As for the gaming laws, my understanding is that they are not as strict when organizations run contests open only to organization members.

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

"This website does not fall under standard gaming laws that you would normally face when running a competition" Why not? I'm not sure on that aspect. Perhaps somebody could enlighten?

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I wouldn't complain, I'd just sign up a new account. It is a private website, not a public one, though it is open to the public to visit and become members. If TR wanted to offer a prize to someone slectively then can do so without repercussion. The only time it COULD even begin to be an issue, and even then you'd need a damn good attorney and a lot of money, would be if they said only whites can enter. But even then, as it is a privately owned website, they can get away with it. This website does not fall under standard gaming laws that you would normally face when running a competition.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Well it WAS just you, but since having a second look, I agree, the FCC should be notified on that one. :D

gadgetgirl
gadgetgirl

that's what made me jealous in the first place...... :( No trip, then? GG Mae - can your shovel also be used to beat people into submission? If so - carry right on, please!

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

is the discernment of qualities and recognition of the differences between things, For example the prejudicial treatment of different groups of people based on certain characteristics - in this case age or age of account (virtual world) to the ability to gain access to a prize on a website that has a full, free membership base, covering a wide spectrum of 'account creation dates'. To offer such prize to only those less than a particular date would be to discriminate based on the age of an account. The exception would be if membership was financially granted, where such prize or prizes were offered from funds acquired through or as a result of collection from 'members'. I was just having a laugh anyway...TR knows that any competition has to be for all. What would you say if, from now on, all new members from today got a TR goodie bag? You would say - Hey no fair, I have been here for ages and.....well, I rest my case.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

That way her suitcase will still get on the flight home. "Wow, maam, you must have bought a lot of souveniers on your holiday!, This thing weighs a tonne!" "Nah, I just picked up a transplanted Brit with attitude who wanted to go home for a bit." (and I would love you soooooooo much!):)

jdclyde
jdclyde

There is no promise we would let her leave when the party was over.... :x

maecuff
maecuff

Oz in beaded football pads. I love your typos!

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

probably would need some football pads and shin guards to fend off all the beatings but I could write it off as a customer visit.

maecuff
maecuff

It's starting to sound like a party!

JamesRL
JamesRL

Its closer than many of my vacation spots. James

cmiller5400
cmiller5400

If a new store gave gifts away to the first 100 customers, would you complain if you were the 101st customer? Please enlighten me as to how this would be discrimination; I fail to see it. It is kind of like milestone anniversary's where I work. You get to pick a gift from a catalog, as the years you have been with the company increase, so does the gift selection.

maecuff
maecuff

And I'm only a couple hours from Louisville, so we could visit. I vote for GG winning a trip! :)

gadgetgirl
gadgetgirl

I definitely think you should have a competition. And I definitely think the prize should be a trip to the TR Mothership. I also definitely think I should win it!!! Seriously - think about doing some anniversary logo-ed stuff to mark the occasion - oh, and make some of it sendable over the pond, will you? Nah - still want the Mothership trip ..... :p GG

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

That was rather tongue in cheek. There wouldnt be any actual competition based on who signed up to the site first. There hasnt even been any discussion at all about Anniversary stuff we'd be celebrating with. If we can wring some money out of CNET for a party and giveaways however, rest assured it will be available to all members, no matter when they signed up. We still have 11 months to sort that out.

JamesRL
JamesRL

That I didn't change the account because of issues with the first one. If I stopped using it and started again, it would be because I had issues logging in. But no matter, I'm not dying to get in, just curious. Seems so long ago. James

JamesRL
JamesRL

If TR wants to acknowledge some long time contributors, its their right to set a bar. Do you just enjoy raining on people's parades? James

The 'G-Man.'
The 'G-Man.'

Determining rewards based on the age of an account is a form discrimination. Any competition held should be open to all.

tmalonemcse
tmalonemcse

I was able to recover an earlier TR account by logging in with the email address I used back then and then changing the email address there to a current one. I have three accounts, the earliest from Jan of 2001. I visited the site from the beginning but didn't sign up until then. I agree, the readership has become much more, shall we say, aggressive than it used to be. I never dreamed back then that I would be asked to be a regular contributing blogger some day.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Once they caught on to people scamming points, it was nixed pretty quick, after they talked about it for a year or so first.

Jaqui
Jaqui

I'm pretty sure I was over the quarter million mark on points before they were stolen. :( ;) I want to cash my points in on a 10th anniversary TR mug.

John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro
John Sheesley - TechRepublic Pro

*shudder* That's probably a subject that's best left UNremembered, but I'll be sure to bring it up as the anniversary approaches.

jdclyde
jdclyde

but go ahead and do it anyways? Ah, lies lies lies. You DELIGHT in telling me that. :p Now, go drink that coffee..... :D

maecuff
maecuff

But am unable to help myself.. In my example? YOU are the lady.

jdclyde
jdclyde

Heck, you didn't even remember that you weren't even complaining about anything! :p Quick, go grab a cup of coffee! http://tinyurl.com/y5muly B-)

maecuff
maecuff

I think Shakespear said it best when he said "The lady doth protest too much". ;)

jdclyde
jdclyde

going from "I like girls" to showtunes? :0 The two don't belong together! There are no showtunes playing in the love-mobile! No shag carpet or anything! I think because it was so LONG ago, you just don't remember the situation clearly? The first thing to go is the mind, right? B-) Now be careful there Mae, a woman of your age shouldn't get to worked up.... :p :x

maecuff
maecuff

And I'm pretty sure I'm the one who noticed JD's penchant for the 'alternate' lifestyle.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I can take it as well as I dish it out. I just don't like it when people can throw it out and get all whiny when you throw it back. You and many others here know how to give and take, for that I give you a lot of respect, not that you both haven't earned my respect anyway. I'm not really the negative ogre many think I am, I am actually really easy going and open minded, even towrds Americans. I just find it so much fun to play with people though.

JamesRL
JamesRL

...with the apology if I didn't picture him cowering in front of a shovel wielding goddess - I'm picturing the female equivalent of Thor, ready to strike down the insolent Oz.... Too much fun. I knew there was a reason I liked Michelle, must be her ability to quickly assess people like Oz....I seem to recall saying something very similar to him in one of my early replies. James

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

And that's what makes you so cool! :D

maecuff
maecuff

None at all. I knew you were full of sh*t and didn't give it a second thought. :)

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

That must have been when I was on the TR welcoming comittee. But you know I grew to love you, even if you don't know what you are talking about. ;) It must have been a bad acid day or something, who knows, it's not like me ot jump down someone's throat for no reason. okay, okay; with all sincerity, I am humbly sorry, Michelle. I've really enjoyed your input around here.

dawgit
dawgit

I've had more boots around the World than I care to remember. Got and lost a bunch of 'T' shirts too. But I usually go bare foot'n to birthday parties. :^0 -d

Jaqui
Jaqui

But back in the day, the flame wars were so much better than they are now. A real battle to prove a point, with references, that did NOT degenerate into spurious attacks on the other party only. Like our own, sometimes heated, discussions about things like global warming. The difference of opinion on the subject remains, but the respect for the other party was never lost either. or should we call that an "intelligent discussion that occasionally became heated"? :D

JamesRL
JamesRL

I think I recall once since then that didn't result in a relaxtion of hostilities. James

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

That was a funny one though. He was all set on coming to teh tiny town of Port Hardy (where I lived ta the time), which I knew he wouldn't/didn't anyway. I would have probably felt sorry for him, as he was admittedly quite crippled at the time, and taken him out for a boat ride and a few drinks (he likes decent Scotch too). He finally ceased and conceded that he hadn't been there are was BS'ing teh whoe time, which was pretty clear for all anyway. Sleeping Dawg, I'd still happily have a few drams with him anytime.

JamesRL
JamesRL

I recall some threads where people seemed serious about meeting and doing each other bodily harm. Thats beyond the pale. Funnily enough they haven't reached the heights I saw in an internal company newsgroup. It got so bad the company shut it down. It was supposed to foster informal internal communication, but it became a mudslinging zoo about politics and other subjects. James

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I've had some bashes with others, but you were always the most challenging. Others were just a waste of time, unlike ours which were more important, of course. lol. I'd actually enjoy going for a beer with you these days, I think I always would have, wer'e both so stubborn that if we spent time talking about everyone else's problems, we would have fun. As long as we kept it to slamming others and not each other, it just might work out. I once had a roommate that I would go toe to toe with almost once a week. We were fairly good friends but just had a lot of differences. We found one day, while throwing a party, that the two of us were an unstoppable team when it came to tearing down some a$$hole with too much to say. We actually had one fully grown man, wind up leavign in tears, as he was shooting his mouth off and was called to task on it. Yeah, we'd do just fine.

maxwell edison
maxwell edison

.....it was undoubtedly the best. In fact, we set the flame-war bar so high, that it would take a blazing inferno to reach it!

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

It wouldn't surprise me, but I seem to remember some old squabbles getting pretty head on when I first lingered about. I wouldn't care though, despite teh fact that it got to be EVERY topic was a flame war, it was kinda fun at times. I remember laughing out loud while typing a fuming flame many times. You even had flame wars with a couple of my friends at the time, if I left the computer on TR they'd play for a while when visiting. Oh well, times change I guess.

JamesRL
JamesRL

I was a member from the beginning(I had another ID is 1999). The most memorable early flame war had to surely be about the 2000 presidential election in the US. No? James

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