The Origins of the Pad Concept
by Rich Holler, Executive Director, ASP Since 1993
Originally Published from ASP Aspects.July 2005. Reprinted with Permission, (C)2005 ASP
I had been operating the Author-Direct Distribution Service (ADDS), using the VendInfo system to automate the data extraction and processing of file submissions. The VendInfo system was very dependable and durable, but it wasn’t at all liked by the author community. ASP members would reluctantly use VendInfo, primarily because 1) my Author-Direct services required it, and 2) the ASP paid the registration fees for its members. But since non-ASP authors had to purchase their own copies of VendInfo, I never felt comfortable offering the ADDS services to non-ASP members–I always thought it was awkward and unethical to charge someone for a service, and then also require them to purchase a specific utility in order to use that service. So as long as ADDS required VendInfo, it was limited to ASP members (and ESC members, later) only.
However, I was well aware of the potential volume of business that I was missing out by restricting my services to ASP members. I realized that in order to get out of the corner I had backed myself into, I would need to come up with a dedicated utility for ADDS, which I could provide to my customers free of charge. I didn’t have any programming capabilities myself, so I started approaching developer friends to ask if they’d be interested in creating a dedicated ADDS data entry/ extraction utility, in exchange for a percentage of ADDS revenues. The first few authors I worked with either didn’t have time to devote to the development, or just didn’t see eye-to-eye with me on what needed to be done. I was starting to get frustrated by the whole situation.
While attending a Shareware Schmooze in Columbus OH (in 1998, I believe), I was chatting with long-time friend Harold Holmes of Lincoln Beach Software, and I mentioned the problems I was having in getting my utility developed. Without spending much time thinking about it, Harold jumped right in an offered to do it for me. Harold had already been working on something very similar as a feature for his SiteTrack product, so he had already done much of the preliminary planning. Just a short time later, Harold had a working prototype ready for testing, and it finally appeared that my much-needed utility might finally become a reality. Harold and I were both very excited about the potential of this project.
We began talking to other authors about our plans, and they too were extremely excited about it. They desperately wanted an alternative to VendInfo, and many of them reluctantly continued using VendInfo only because ADDS required it. And I was extremely excited about it as well, because it would finally allow me to open up the ADDS service to non-ASP members, representing a much larger potential customer base to draw from.
At some point during the development of the project, Harold and I were talking about the potential usage of the system, and we had a brainstorm–with just a slight revision of the concept, the data entry/extraction system could be split off from the dedicated ADDS functions, which would allow other distributors in the industry to also take advantage of the system.
Harold then began working towards that goal and started revising the overall concept of the project.
Once we decided to redesign the concept of the project, I really didn’t have any claim to it. Harold was doing all the work, and was no longer doing it strictly for ADDS. And my ADDS service would still end up getting what it ultimately needed, so I was content to let Harold take the ball and run with it. Harold planned to initially market the concept to the large online distributors such as ZDNet, CNet, etc. We began talking about the newly-revised project at an SIC convention, and a buzz quickly spread thru the attendees about our new concept. It seemed that everyone at the conference wanted to know how soon the project would be ready!
While Harold continued with his plan to market the product (which he originally called DizGen99) to distributors as a part of his existing product line, the leadership of the ASP was also talking about the potential future and usage of the project. Part of the ASP’s mission is to advance the shareware concept and the shareware industry, so the ASP leaders decided that it would be extremely appropriate to purchase the rights to the concept, and make it available to the shareware industry at no charge. They approached Harold with their plans for the project, and he agreed to not make any marketing decisions until the ASP could present him with an offer.
The ASP then formed a committee to review the project and determine appropriate compensation for the work Harold had done.
The ASP presented their offer, Harold accepted it, the project was renamed to PAD (Portable Application Description), and the rest, as they say, is history . . . . (disclaimer–I’ve slept a lot since all of this happened, so I may be a bit fuzzy, or downright wrong, about some of the details above)
Richard Holler has been a member of the ASP since 1991, served as BBS Membership Chairman, ASP Vice President, and served on the ASP Board of Directors. He currently serves as the ASP Executive Director