Gather 'round, everybody. It's time for a little story. A glimpse into the history of AppleSource, and the culture behind the software. From law suits to hard drive crashes, would-be could-be but lost-it-all and the greatest success story ever told. It's all here. And it all started, as with any story worth telling, long long ago. . .The Beginning
Rewind to April 1st 1997. At the age of 12, Perry Fjellman was given a 286 IBM running DOS 4.0 for his birthday from his mother's office. Around the same time, Perry was unanimously voted out of the hall at his middle school by his teachers. To this day he's still not sure why his teachers hated him so much.
Outcast and alone, Perry turned to his love of technology. Rick Shaw, a local teacher at the middle school who ran a television studio for kids took Perry in. Spending all day every day in this class teaching kids about computers, video editing, and technology, Perry managed to attain good grades through middle school in an otherwise hopeless situation.
A good friend of Rick's, Bill Street (the school's librarian), noticed Perry's loner tendencies and his gravitation towards computers. One day finding Perry alone in the library flipping through random books, Bill cautiously approached Perry.
"Do you like computers, Perry?"
"Yeah, definitely. I don't know much about them though." He replied, frowning a little.
"Let me show you something."
And with those five words, Perry's world changed forever. What Bill had was a 5.25" floppy disk and a book with information about GW-BASIC, a simple programming language that ran on DOS.
Over the next year, Perry devoured every book he could get his hands on on the subject. Designing countless useless programs, his knowledge of computers and programming languages grew. He was becoming less of a neophyte every day.Perry Finds the Mac
As luck would have it right when Perry was really starting to grasp a strong understanding of GW-BASIC, the office that had given the computer to Perry wanted it back. However, his mother was able to bring home a replacement: a 9 inch cube-looking computer called the Macintosh SE. It had icons. A mouse. And speakers. And it was cute! It blew Perry away.
Perry quickly adapted his knowledge of programming from DOS to the Macintosh through Chipmunk BASIC, the BASIC interpreter on the Mac, however he continued developing primarily for PCs at local teen centers that had DOS computers and on the computers at his school.
Then Perry got a Macintosh LC II, and everything changed again. This had a bigger screen. Color. And most importantly, a program called REALbasic. This version of BASIC was a fully Integrated Development Environment (IDE) and included the ability to construct windows, menus, and other controls and objects and put code into them. Over the next year and a half, Perry designed sprite-based games, simple utilities, and other fun and useless things.AppleSource is Born
Everyone at school knew Perry as "The Mac Guy". He was incredibly auspicious. He helped people who had Macs and was excited to find other Mac users everywhere. He decided that although this may not have been a profitable long-term dream, he wanted to work with Macs, and thus coined the name AppleSource. He printed business cards, came up with the slogan "We Open Doors, Not Windows", and designed his first website, hosted for free at HyperMart.
When Perry got an original bondi blue iMac the year they were released, it was time to do something big. He started work on an MP3 player.AppleSource MP3
At the time, the only MP3 player available for Mac was SoundJam. This program was $399 for the pro version which was extremely limited at any rate. As time went on, other options became available such as Audion and MacAmp, but they weren't free, and they weren't good.
Perry was determined to develop a smooth, efficient MP3 decoder and create the Mac's first free MP3 player. He did. It was small. It was fast. It was pretty. It was free. Extremely excited with his creation, he decided to release it to the public. He found a site called VersionTracker, and on October 3rd, 2000 he listed it. A tuesday night.
That Wednesday afternoon, in the middle of class, Perry decided to check his email as he usually did, and while he was at it, he figured he'd look at how many downloads his program had registered.Everything Blows Up
26,000. 26,000 downloads in 12 hours. Hundreds of emails. Dozens of reviews. Everyone absolutely loved this thing. Perry could not believe it! He was beaming all day. All week, all month. He continued working hard on future improvements and released other programs including BarBro, a toolbar utility application that did things the likes of DragThing and the dock.
With the incredible success of a simple free MP3 player that was created purely for fun, AppleSource was a household name! Okay so maybe not quite, but still this was cool. Perry continued developing software for the Mac and experimenting with new ideas.Johnny Law
Then Perry received a notice from a company called AMP3. The logical abbreviation for AppleSource MP3 was AMP3, and as such it was referred to by that name on many websites beyond Perry's control. The AMP3 company demanded he stop using that name IMMEDIATELY or legal action would be taken. Nervous, Perry decided to acquiesce this request, and removed all references to the term "AMP3" from his site and sent numerous emails to listing sites, review sites, and other website talking about his program.
Luckily a potentially devastating lawsuit was avoided as the company never contacted Perry again. But this wasn't the last string of bad luck AppleSource would see.Everything Blows Up (For Real)
Perry received numerous contracts to port software from the conglomerate giant that was the PC world over to the lesser-known Macintosh community, and one such contract was quite huge. Worth tens of thousands of dollars, Perry entered eagerly into this contract. At the age of 16, how can you turn down the prospect of a house, a car, and all the tech toys you'd ever want?
Production was coming along nicely until one day, just 1 month before the release of the program was due, Perry's iMac crashed and burned. Everything was lost. The contract was terminated. No money changed hands. But even worse, Perry lost everything he'd worked on. AppleSource MP3 was gone. He was devastated.A Valuable Lesson Learned
Now Perry makes backups of his source files at every major change. Keeps copies of his work on multiple drives on multiple computers, in online storage servers, on discs, and even on his keychain with the use of a USB JumpDrive.
While all of the data was lost, working with large companies, dealing with software distribution nightmares, handling customer relations (even if the software was free, they were customers!), and the experience gained from the hundreds of hours of coding spent on these projects was all invaluable.
We cannot succeed in life without making a few mistakes. From an outcast boy who dropped out of high school to a young man who develops some of the best MacOS X software on the market (so he says!), it's quite a winding road.
"I wouldn't change a thing." Perry says smiling, looking back fondly on how he got from A to B. Or maybe A to S.
Learn more about the philosophy of AppleSource, and meet our team on our Company Profile