ticalc.org is 20 years old!
Posted by the ticalc.org staff on 21 June 2016, 21:42 GMT
ticalc.org is 20 years old today! All of us involved with the site would like to thank all of you for creating and sharing and learning with us.
Several of us involved with the site over the years have shared their own reflections on ticalc.org below including (in alphabetical order):
Help us celebrate by sharing what ticalc.org has meant to you in the comments!
It's funny to think back to 1996, the age of dial-up Internet, when coding wasn't cool and building even a modest website was a tricky and usually expensive undertaking. It feels like there's no topic, no matter how esoteric, that hasn't been fully explored and explained on today's web. But 20 years ago, with the right timing, a high schooler with a casual grasp of HTML and Photoshop could build a simple website that filled a need for a certain corner of the growing online population.
I'm grateful for Isaac's vision in bringing together a handful of scrappy sites like mine and still awed by Magnus, Henrik, and the dozens of other talented technical minds who have made simple devices do the amazing things that have been worth chronicling for the past two decades. The opportunity to help build and operate a high-traffic, bootstrapped, volunteer-based project with such a smart, diverse, and multinational team is a unique experience that has served me in ways I can't fully appreciate.
Multiple generations of young people, including me, have gotten their start in programming (or at least a break from boredom in math class) thanks to ticalc.org, and that's something special. I feel privileged to have played a role in its history and proud that the project has played a part in my own.
I got into TI calculators and programming quite young, around 1994 when I was barely 12 or so. It wasn't until years later later (1999 or so) that I discovered sites like ticalc.org during borrowed time (such as rare free days in computer classes in high school,) and it was many more years before I had my own Internet access and an actual account.
Before then, I always dreamed of being active in this community, and it was exciting to finally be able to do so. I never actually anticipated being a staff member of the site, though. The opportunity just kind of found me, I guess you could say, during that fateful [File Archiver] hiring run. I just started thinking about it and realized that I could really help the site out for a long time. I thought long and hard about it and decided to go for it, despite not quite being 100% confident I knew what I was getting myself into. Plus, I have to admit it: I was always curious about the behind-the-scenes of this site, and finding out in itself would be icing on the cake. ;-)
As it turns out, I never regretted it at all. It's been really cool to go from being some mysterious guy no one really heard of popping up out of nowhere to someone who could make a difference where the site sorely needed it, even if in a rather niche corner of the Web. I always wanted to be part of something that meant something to me but never seemed to be able to or have an opportunity. Being involved here gave me a chance to fill that desire. I think it's also helped me a bit to become a bit more sociable, at least in writing online and in IRC. It's still something that's never felt comfortable and natural to me in-person and even in phone exchanges, but it hasn't stopped me from wanting to meet others in the community [in real life], like I've managed to do with Astrid. Normally, I tend not to seek out social situations and prefer to be by myself, but this has helped me to find a way to socialize with people with similar interests to mine, where I knew of no such people around me (and would have had a lot of difficulty approaching if I did).
I discovered ticalc.org as a 7th grader in 1999. A teacher handed me a TI-83 to use in a math competition. When a classmate said he'd heard you could play chess on it, I had to know more. I downloaded hundreds of programs and pored over their source to understand how they worked. I read the manual cover to cover to learn how to create my own. I saved up and bought a whole fleet of calculators, and published programs for all of them.
Writing software was the most satisfying feeling I'd ever had, and ticalc.org was both a tremendous resource and outlet for me. I became one of the site's most prolific authors, and then came aboard to help manage the file archives. I moved on to C++ classes in high school, then studied computer science at Carnegie Mellon, and now I get paid to write software for robots. Like Isaac, maybe I'd have found this path eventually anyway, but I'm eternally grateful that this site was able to steer me in the right direction.
Thanks for 20 years! Looking forward to many more.
Magnus Hagander, founding staff member and editor-in-chief:
Initially it was mostly about getting the ZShell content out there and things like that, for me as well the site fairly quickly took on an appeal of it's own. I learned a lot back in those days both about running servers, and about building web applications and systems. I'm amazed at how much of the things that were built around then and primarily around the time of the "second overhaul" are still in production and functioning well 15-20 years later. In fact, it's interesting to see how "best practices" in the industry over the years have in a lot of cases turned towards being the things we did back then. Those two things combine tell me we did at least something right.
While I was pretty certain I'd be getting into "IT" regardless, the early experiences with ticalc.org certainly helped steer me towards an involvement in communities around open source software, which has led me to the part of the industry where I am now. I may have ended up there anyway, but it definitely helped nudge me in that direction.
There's a lot of people who have been around for a long time, and I think it's great that a lot of the people from the "old days" are still in contact, and I'm very happy to call many of these people my friends. And *that* would definitely not have happened without ticalc.org.
And in slightly related news, if we can just sort out our calendars properly, I will be having lunch with the infamous nickd tomorrow.
Back in 1996, I was putting myself through film school doing computer support work on campus. I started the project mainly as a way to learn how to set up a domain on the internet from beginning to end, with a goal of providing a useful, non-commercial resource. It ended up being ticalc.org because I had gotten into programming my TI-85 in my high school years and there seemed to be a niche - there were a few scattered web pages, but no real rallying point. Fortunately, that nascent community of hackers (in the positive sense) that I reached out to in February of 1996 happened to include some of the smartest, most community-minded people I've ever met before or since, which is why ticalc.org was actually successful.
Through setting up the site, I learned how DNS and domain registration worked, how to set up and administer a Linux-based server running mail, web, and FTP services. I also learned (sometimes the hard way) how to put together a team and how to deal with the legal issues that can arise from operating a site hosting user-contributed content. This experience was what really launched my tech career.
Maybe this career happens without getting to work with (and learn from) all the people who contributed to ticalc.org - especially Magnus and Chris and Henrik back in the early days. Maybe not. Maybe I'd be retired now if I'd invested my time and money back then in speculating on domain names or any number of other crass pursuits instead. Maybe not. I am proud of ticalc.org though - we made something because it was interesting to us and useful to other, and it's still here, still useful 20 years later. That's pretty freakin' cool.
The TI scene has been one of the best social groups that I've had the privilege of being a member of. It was the first place I felt at home on the Internet, and still feels more like home than any other place. Kind of like a parent's home sometimes - I haven't spent much time here in a while but I'll always come back to it.
I've met so many nice people (and naturally some not-so-nice people)through calculators. I've changed the world, in very small ways, and I hope that I've done my little bit to help some people find their way. It's amazing what you can do with just a linkport :P