Phil Katz founded PKWARE in 1986 with PKZIP, a compression tool for computer users. Back then, the primary compression tool was known as ARC. Phil was 23 years old and created an alternative to the ARC format, called ZIP. PKZIP was PKWARE’s response to the compression needs of the computer market. PKZIP not only introduced the .ZIP file format to the public for the first time; it also brought a reliable alternative to the compression utilities on the market in the late 1980’s. The speed and amount of compression, flexibility, robustness, and reliability PKZIP possessed all helped many Bulletin Board System Operators decide to convert their compressed archives to the ZIP file format virtually overnight. Another big reason for the success of PKZIP was the decision by PKWARE to dedicate the ZIP file format specification and .ZIP file extension name to the public domain. Phil greatly supported the software industry and was one of the first members of ASP.
In 1981, the concept of computer shareware was co-invented by Jim Knopf (also known as Jim Button) and shareware became popular. He had written PC-File. Knopf was working for IBM when he wrote a mailing-label program for the Apple II. He sold his Apple II for an IBM PC in 1981, thinking he could do better on the new platform. As the program required more and more support and debugging, Knopf came up with the idea of “requesting” $10 for people to get on his mailing list for updates and some support. The request was added to a file on the program disk, and shareware was born. He used the name Jim Button because he thought it was a better name than Knopf (In fact, “Knopf” is German for “button”). By 1983, sacks full of mail (literally) were arriving. Button was forced to quit his IBM job to keep up with the growing demand. The business boomed, and in 1987, he was selling 10 different programs to a million customers through 18 employees. Soon that number grew to 35, as sales peaked at $4.5 million. Knopf is now officially retired.
Bob Ostrander founded Public Brand Software (PBS) in 1985. PBS was the largest disk vendor at the time, and sold shareware disks at shows and through direct catalog mailings. It was sold to Ziff Davis Interactive in 1991, becoming the basis of ZiffNet on Compuserve and Prodigy and on ZD Net’s web site. Bob hosted the first four Summer Shareware Seminars in Indianapolis, which eventually turned into the Shareware Industry Conference.
Bob has served the ASP as a board member and president during the early 90’s (sometimes at the same time), and then as ASP Secretary in 1993. Then, we managed to bring him “out of retirement” to again serve a second term as ASP president during some very trying times in 1997-1998. The ASPects archives contain many great articles from Bob during that time.
More recently, Bob has been involved in designing golfing websites, and an online magazine called the “DVD Insider,” where he foretold the inevitable doom of DIVX. He still makes appearances now and then at shareware events, sometimes bringing his famous “potato gun.”
Paul Mayer has been creating Freeware and Shareware since the 1970’s and has been a full time software author since 1991. He started in shareware before it was known as shareware. He was a computer hobbyist who built his first computer from a Heathkit H-8 computer kit. Paul wrote a number of Freeware programs in the 1970’s for Heathkit computers. He then joined the ASP shortly after it was formed and became the second Author Membership Chairman. During the following years, he was responsible for reviewing all new ASP applicants (back in the days when ASP reviewed members’ software before they could join). When the ASP started accepting shareware vendors for membership, he later became the first Vendor Member Compliance Chairman.
After building the new position, Paul was elected to the ASP Board of Directors and a year later, elected as President. Paul is presently the forum manager of the Shareware Forum on the Microsoft Network, and President of ZPAY Payroll Systems, which markets its products through Shareware. Paul is also a Freelance Web Designer who’s designed pages for the Microsoft Network, the Government, and many other clients around the world.
As one of the founders of the shareware concept, Bob Wallace has played an important role in the development of shareware concept. Bob admits to being allergic to taking orders from someone else. So in early 1983, Bob, who had just left Microsoft, started his own company, QuickSoft. Wallace had written a basic word processing program called PC-WRITE. Wallace started referring to his product as “shareware.” Wallace stated in an interview, that “My philosophy is that I want to make a living, not a killing.”
In 1984, a contest was held to settle on a name for this new distribution method. The most popular choice was “shareware,” which Bob Wallace was already using to describe PC-Write.
In early 1987, Bob attended the pivotal Houston conference of virtually all of the top shareware programmers in those days. From that meeting, the Association of Shareware Professionals was formed.
At its peak, QuickSoft employed over 30 people and did over $2 million a year in business, with over 45,000 registered users. Wallace has retired from the shareware business, but PC-Write continues to be sold by another company.