I kept meaning to look back at some of the email newsletters I used to subscribe to in the 1990s and, with Dan Hon and Laura E. Hall’s Internet of Newsletters appearing today, I thought I should get it done.
So, here are some of the newsletters I subscribed to, back when I was happy to get more and more email, when it didn’t feel like a medium for generating tasks, which it does to me now.
From Carl Steadman, I have three emails (1.06, 1.07 and 1.08) from 1998. Carl’s site of the period is still live although the newsletter archive doesn’t work. I’m not sure how long it ran for. Here’s a taster:
Date: Mon, 27 Jul 1998 15:32:15 -0700 (PDT) From: Carl Steadman <email@example.com> Subject: <carl> 1.06: Time for Carlmail! Time for Carlmail! Comrades! You, too, can stalwartly refuse to be culturally relevant! -- CARLMAIL WENT BOOM Over the weekend, Carlmail died a horrible death. It happened suddenly, without warning. Carlmail was no more. And yet you're getting this mail right now! How can this be? Well, you see, I have backups. Do you have backups? I have backups. So if you haven't backed up your valuable data lately, do so now! You'll thank me for it, later. This has been a public service announcement from your pal, Carl. __ THE DEATH OF COOL I know, you didn't need to hear it from me, but maybe Mike Homer does. You see, both Netmoguls and Placing were linked from the Netscape Netcenter What's Cool page a little over a week ago. And, based on my referrer logs, Netcenter is delivering double-digit hits. As in, less than 100 unique visitors. From a page that's linked right off the Netscape.com homepage. My ass is a bigger portal. <http://home.netscape.com/netcenter/1998/july/0714_cool.html> --
Date: Wed, 09 Jun 1999 14:15:29 GMT From: firstname.lastname@example.org (DaveNet email) To: "DaveNet World" <email@example.com> Subject: Byte and the Merc ------------------------------------- From Scripting News... It's DaveNet! Released on 6/9/99; 7:15:26 AM PST ------------------------------------- ***Office and Jakob Lots of mail from yesterday's piece about Microsoft Office 2000. I also met with usability pundit Jakob Nielsen to demo our new software, and to schmooze about the web, the industry and where all this stuff is going. I like Jakob. We have rapport. I suggested we do a radio show together. What do you think? Jakob said many interesting and provocative things. Like this one. "If you're an Internet user you have to have Office." "Why?" I asked. "You have to have Office because you'll get Word documents or Excel spreadsheets or PowerPoint presentations as email enclosures, and how will you read them if you don't have the apps that created them?" he asked. I knew that! So, far from a last gasp it seems like these apps are here to stay. Maybe the web is smaller than Microsoft? Maybe it is, and I don't like it. I want the web and the world to be much much larger. So, in the spirit of Linus, "I don't care, we'll just keep making our software better."
I don’t know much about this, but I subscribed for nearly five years from late 1995. If I remember rightly it was a good way to get general tech news, when we were less well provided for by blogs, news sites, etc. Initially produced by Educom (“Transforming Education Through Information Technology”) who merged with Cause to create Educause in 1998. From the first issue I have:
Date: Tue, 28 Nov 1995 20:09:05 -0500 (EST) From: Educom <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: "EDUCOM Edupage Mailing List" <email@example.com> Subject: Edupage, 28 November 1995 ***************************************************************** Edupage, 28 Nov 95. Edupage, a summary of news items on information technology, is provided three times each week as a service by Educom, a Washington, D.C.-based consortium of leading colleges and universities seeking to transform education through the use of information technology. ***************************************************************** TOP STORIES Kahn Steps Down At Borland Windows 95 Boosts Productivity Markey Wins On V-Chip Netcom May Be Liable In Copyright Suit Spamming Sparks Lawsuit PC Radio Days Cray Flips Over Teraflops Network Security Moves To Front Burner ALSO ITU Expected To Approve 33.6 Kbps Modems Online Anonymity Is All Relative NEC PC Marketed To Game Players Cybercomics From Tom Clancy A Free Market Approach To E-Mail Crusade Against Cyberporn KAHN STEPS DOWN AT BORLAND Borland International's original "Bad Boy" Philippe Kahn is resigning Jan. 1 as chairman of the board. Kahn says he wants to spend more time with his new venture, Starfish Software, which is planning to develop products that will use Sun Microsystems' Java software to enable PC users to coordinate their personal schedules over the Web. "Starfish has grown much faster than we ever dreamed it would. There are only so many hours in the day, and being the chairman of a publicly held company is a lot of commitment," says Kahn. (Wall Street Journal 24 Nov 95 B3) WINDOWS 95 BOOSTS PRODUCTIVITY A test conducted by International Data Corp. shows Windows 95 users were able to complete a series of business computing tasks 19% faster than Mac users and 50% faster than OS/2 users. The tasks included managing and printing local and networked files, managing documents and software programs, checking system resources, creating shortcuts and customizing the desktop. (Investor's Business Daily 27 Nov 95 A6)
The Industry Standard Intelligencer
The email newsletter of the Industry Standard print magazine that was around from 1998 to 2001. I appear to have subscribed to the emails from February 1998 to October 1999. Here’s the start of the first I have:
Date: Fri, 20 Feb 1998 19:19:32 -0800 From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: The Industry Standard Intelligencer v1.4 THE INDUSTRY STANDARD I N T E L L I G E N C E R February 20, 1998 ----------------------------------------------------------------------- THIS WEEK'S BUZZ *TED Goes Big *Can NCI Stir with a Roux Sauce? *News in Review COMING SOON *Win98 Update *Ads auf Deutsch *Subscriptions Slated IDC RESEARCH *Participate in an International Data Corp. (IDC) Survey ---------------------------------------------------------------------- TED Goes Big Richard Saul Wurman likes to describe his TED (technology, entertainment, design) conference as the ultimate dinner party, and as the eighth edition of the event opened Thursday at the Monterey, California, Conference Center, that description seemed apt. There was a little bit of traditional business conference fare--earnest executives opining about the future of the Internet, computer innovators showing whizzy new graphics and speech recognition technology--but mostly there was entertainment: music and movie clips and stand-up comedy, along with a great collection of door prizes and plenty of time for schmoozing. Forrest Sawyer told war stories about Iraq, a historian of magic revealed some secrets, and a young woman named Aimee Mullins stole the first day of the show with a blunt and cheerful discussion of what it's like to be a competitive sprinter without any legs. Day 2 began with some spectacular scientific presentations that took the audience to the bottom of the sea and the farthest reaches of outer spa All very diverting, no doubt, but an obvious question remains: Why do people pay $2,500, plus lodging, for an elaborate variety show? Part of the answer is that they can; there's nothing quite like hearing about fascinating creative endeavors from the creators themselves. Even more important, though, is that TED is an opportunity to rub elbows with interesting luminaries from a variety of fields and become a part of Wurman's elite circle of late-twentieth-century business and culture industry movers. Traditionally, not just anyone could attend TED. Space was limited, and even the press had to pay. But Wurman faces a tricky balancing act in holding this all together. TED Conferences Inc. is getting bigger--there are close to 800 attendees in Monterey this year, many in "simulcast" rooms that offer a video feed from the main auditorium. Last fall, there was a new TED show in New York, and later this year is the second TEDMED show, focusing on "wellness." Exclusivity is part of what gives TED its cachet, but that's hard to square with the desire to grow. Wurman says, for example, that he doesn't need press. Yet he's hired Alexander Communications, the ubiquitous high-tech PR firm, to manage the story and a few journalists were quietly given free tickets to the Monterey show this year, to the great irritation of some of their brethren. This reporter was among those who got in because their publications were sponsors; other scribes were comped because they were speakers. The tension between elite clubbiness and expansion isn't a new issue at the high end of the burgeoning conference business, but it's a growing one for TED.
NTK’s weekly UK-oriented internet news/satire/in-jokes ran from 1997 to 2007, just about, and can currently be enjoyed as repeats with an added comment. The original site is still online,
although it looks like the archive is missing with its complete archive. From one of the first issues:
Date: Fri, 23 May 1997 13:33:08 +0100 From: Need To Knowbot <email@example.com> To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: NTK 23/05/97 _ _ _____ _ __ 23/05/97 NEED TO KNOW NOW | \ | |_ _| |/ / _ __ _____ __ o tries to be the premier | \| | | | | ' / | '_ \ / _ \ \ /\ / / o source of UK data on the | |\ | | | | . \ | | | | (_) \ V V / o infotyphoon sweeping us all: |_| \_| |_| |_|\_\ |_| |_|\___/ \_/\_/ o IT FAILS! "I wrote PGP for human rights!" - PHIL ZIMMERMANN, London, 19/5/97 "The Chaos Computer Club's credit hacking program is a crime against humanity!" - KIM POLESE, Oxford, 19/5/97 old net, new net: slight differences evident >> HARD NEWS << bitter aftertaste NETSCAPE inched back ahead of MICROSOFT this week by releasing a beta of NETCASTER - software that lets Netscape users subscribe to (stop me if you've heard this) "channels of information that appear on your desktop". Similar push media support is due in the final version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer 4.0 - but that's not out yet. Netscape's standard for creating the new channels is also closer to standard HTML programming than Microsoft's planned CDF format. Hoorah for the plucky underdog of a $3 billion software company! The BBC announced THE BEEB, an online consumer service produced with ICL Fujitsu. The service will initially consist of a set of branded sites (like www.topgear.com), with an Internet access package a possibility later in the year (like when people work out how to make money out of it). The service is funded by ICL, rather than the license fee. Software will be available for the BBC Model 'B' only. That's our little joke. http://www.beeb.com
Seidman’s Online Insider
I always think about this one when I think about 1990s email newsletters. One minute of Googling doesn’t reveal exactly who he was or is or what happened to him. Anyone? His website, no longer existing, was last updated in 2000. His weeklyish emails were full of the latest news and his thoughts about America Online, CompuServe, MSN, phone companies, etc. I remember it being great stuff, and appear to have subscribed from 1995 to 1999.
I’d forgotten Keith Dawson’s TBTF (Tasty Bits from the Technology Front), the website for which is still online, including the archive of the newsletter which ran during the late 1990s. This was another great source of news. All this makes me realise how, before blogs and RSS, email was the main way I got good summaries of (what seemed like) the important stuff. Keith’s still active online, and here’s a brief sample of TBTF:
Date: Sat, 28 Feb 1998 22:22:18 -0600 From: email@example.com (Keith Dawson) To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: TBTF for 3/2/98: Light work -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- TBTF for 3/2/98: Light work T a s t y B i t s f r o m t h e T e c h n o l o g y F r o n t Timely news of the bellwethers in computer and communications technology that will affect electronic commerce -- since 1994 Your Host: Keith Dawson This issue: < http://www.tbtf.com/archive/03-02-98.html > ________________________________________________________________________ C o n t e n t s Internet Council of Registrars burgled Sun and Microsoft meet in court over Java Throw down your crutches and encrypt Netscape crypto easily boosted to full strength HP's VerSecure Many hands make light work ISPs, hosts, and CSPs Teledesic puts up a test bird Iridium puts on a light show Another new Mersenne prime Israelis demonstrate a tunable quantum observer An operating system popularity meter Auckland in the dark ________________________________________________________________________ ..Internet Council of Registrars burgled Why *those* two servers, exactly? This news is not exactly new, but the news may be that it has at- tracted so little notice. On Sunday 2/15, thieves broke into a Best Internet San Francisco co-location facility, cut a lock off a steel cage, and made off with two 200-pound servers being used to test the Shared Registry System  for the Internet Council of Registrars. CORE is nearly ready to go live with its long-debated evolution of the domain name system, in contrast to the US government's "green paper" solution , which is months from approval and probably years from implementation. According to a c|net account , CORE said its servers were stolen when a CORE worker scheduled to be at the facility called in sick. There was no sign of forced entry into the Best facility. The two Sun Enterprise 450 servers were not the most expensive equipment in the facility, but no other cages were disturbed. Local police are working on the case and the FBI and CERT were notified. Emergent Corp., which is contracted by CORE to operate the SRS, had the system back online on new servers within 30 hours. At the time of the burglary CORE was low-key and sought to dampen speculation. They promised to put up a statement on their Web site, but if they've done so I couldn't find it.  http://www.gtld-mou.org/press/core-2.html  http://www.tbtf.com/archive/02-02-98.html#s01  http://www.news.com/News/Item/Textonly/0,25,19220,00.html?pfv ________________
These folk are not only still active but still publishing a weekly email newsletter of Mac news, tips, etc alongside everything else they do. They’ve been going 23 years, and I subscribed to their newsletter at issue #300 in 1995, leaving in 1999. It was invaluable stuff in the darker days of Mac owning.
Date: Tue, 16 Jan 1996 00:18:41 -0800 From: TidBITS Editors <email@example.com> To: Multiple recipients of list TIDBITS <TIDBITS@RICEVM1.RICE.EDU> Subject: TidBITS#310/15-Jan-96 1/2 TidBITS#310/15-Jan-96 ===================== This week we bring you news from the Macworld Expo in San Francisco, including an extensive overview of Web-related products at the show, plus our annual superlatives collection of the show's best and worst. Also, check out the latest on turmoil at Apple, a complete system update for 5300-series PowerBooks, and forthcoming Macintosh models. Finally, we sadly say goodbye to Robert Hess, one of the Macintosh industry's best known and most respected journalists. This issue of TidBITS sponsored in part by: * APS Technologies -- 800/443-4199 -- <firstname.lastname@example.org> Makers of hard drives, tape drives, and neat SCSI accessories. For APS price lists, email: <email@example.com> * Northwest Nexus -- 206/455-3505 -- http://www.halcyon.com/ Providing access to the global Internet. <firstname.lastname@example.org> * Hayden Books, an imprint of Macmillan Computer Publishing Internet Starter Kit for Macintosh, Third Edition online! Mac Tip of the Day & free books! -- http://www.mcp.com/hayden/ * Power Computing -- 800/375-7693 -- <email@example.com> Now shipping... The Award-Winning MacOS Compatibles! See what the press says! http://www.powercc.com/News/quotes.html * America Online -- 800/827-6364 -- http://www.aol.com The world's largest provider of online services. Give Back to the Net -- http://www.aol.com/give/ * DealBITS: Short but sweet because of Macworld Expo <-------- NEW http://king.tidbits.com/dealbits/ -- <firstname.lastname@example.org> Copyright 1990-1995 Adam & Tonya Engst. Details at end of issue. Information: <email@example.com> Comments: <firstname.lastname@example.org> --------------------------------------------------------------- Topics: MailBITS/15-Jan-96 Goodbye Robert Macworld SF 96 Superlatives Light at the End of the Tunnel: Web and HTML at the Expo Reviews/15-Jan-96 ftp://ftp.tidbits.com/pub/tidbits/issues/1996/TidBITS#310_15-Jan-96.etx MailBITS/15-Jan-96 ------------------ **Turmoil at Apple** -- Apple announced last week it expects to report a $68 million loss for its first fiscal quarter this year, despite growing unit shipments and revenues. Apple claims price wars in the personal computer market (particularly in Japan) resulted in sales and margins below internal projections. As if this weren't enough, Apple bid farewell to no less than five vice presidents in an executive-level shake-up and reorganization, which added to rumors CEO Michael Spindler's days may be numbered. [GD]
And that’s it from the archives. I also came across a few early 2000s newsletters which already seem remarkably old (Popbitch! Politech! Gorjuss!), but that’s enough for now. And if that’s whetted your appetite, go to Internet of Newsletters and subscribe to some 21st century email.