Jul 17 1999

1999 SIAF banquet opening speech

Yours Truly exercises his speaking skills at the Shareware Industry Awards
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´╗┐Look at this. Three shareware products from Microsoft! Office 97, Windows 95, and Windows NT 4.0. Fully functional 120-day “trial” packages. Microsoft handed this out to people at a 1997 seminar. Pretty cool, eh? Microsoft is a shareware company.

Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the Annual Shareware Industry Awards here in Tampa, Florida. Once again, I’m Rob Rosenberger, your Master of Ceremonies.

As we begin the second half of 1999, we see a lot of reflection over what people accomplished in the last hundred years. Now, shareware didn’t mean squat for the first 80 or so — enough said there.

What did we accomplish as we move into the next century? I submit to you we made the Internet a success. Al Gore invented it — hear me out! — but we made it popular.

Think about it. The Internet’s popularity served as an evolutionary upgrade for the shareware industry.

Rob emcees the 2007 SIAF ceremonies

Rob emcees the 2007 SIAF ceremonies

What did bulletin boards do really well in the early 1980s? They offered popular software for download. What did shareware authors do really well in the 80s? They created the popular software people wanted to download. What else did authors do really well in the 80s? They created a lot of useful public domain software.

People wanted more. Disk vendors sprang up to service those needs. FidoNet gave people all over the world a way to communicate. Compression software and automated packages for CompuServe reduced telephone & online charges. Manufacturers came up with faster modems for users with insatiable appetites.

Where did all the BBS software come from? Where did all the compression software and FidoNet readers and modem applications and antivirus utilities and thousands of other programs come from?

It didn’t come from the retail industry, folks. It came from shareware. Two major distribution channels — BBSs and disk vendors — made it easy to obtain. Users liked the idea of trying software before they bought it. They liked to type “DEL *.*” if something didn’t pass muster.

What was the natural extension of bulletin boards? Web sites. What was the natural extension of modem software? The browser. What was the natural extension of FidoNet? UseNet. What was the natural extension of telephone support? Email support (something we’ve done for a long time, I might add).

WE made the Internet successful. WE drove the technology, WE drove the distribution mechanisms, WE provided all the software people wanted to download.

The retail industry thought they could mold the Internet to fit their needs. They failed — because WE molded it to fit our needs long before the Internet grew popular.

WE forced the retail industry to play by OUR rules — not the other way around. You want proof? I hold it right here in my hand.

If we can do this much in less than 20 years, just think what the next 100 years holds in store.

But the year 19002000 can wait. Tonight, we honor the industry’s cream of the crop in 1999. The Shareware Industry Awards were conceived to honor the very best products written by Shareware developers. They know they must provide exceptional software in order to attract the attention of the public.

If you look at your printed program, you’ll see the many winners of past years. These are the “Roger Maris’s” who set the standard of excellence in their day. Tonight we honor the “Mark McGwires” who break old records and establish new standards of excellence….

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