Pioneers in Mac Development

Info-Mac Reloaded

- 2007.12.05

Here's a bit of trivia for old time Mac users. When was the first online Mac community launched? Give up? It was over 20 years ago that the first Info-Mac posting appeared in June of 1984 - just six months after the release of the Mac 128K.

Many Mac users have fond memories of Info-Mac. The archive contained nearly every essential piece of shareware and freeware for the Mac, and the digest kept thousands informed with tips and strategies on making the most of your Mac experience. At one point the archive was mirrored to over 100 sites.

Unfortunately, the Info-Mac community found it increasingly difficult to keep up with the ever-changing Internet. I asked Adam Engst, the lead moderator in the last years of the community, what lead to his decision to close the community in December of 2005.

Adam became involved with Info-Mac after the publication of his book, The Internet Starter Kit for the Macintosh. Initially he maintained the Internet related portion of the archive, and he later became the lead moderator. Adam incorporated Info-Mac as a nonprofit in an effort to keep the site viable but was unable to find enough volunteer time and expertise.

According to Adam, "everything Info-Mac did reeked of the old days, where there were smart moderators making sure everything was perfect, and while I personally believe strongly in that model, it's clear that the world is moving more towards a model where anyone can contribute and it somehow all comes together in the end."

Those sentiments are echoed by Ed Chambers, a former senior moderator of Info-Mac; "If Info-Mac is to succeed in today's world, it must be relevant and fulfill a niche not well covered by others. What is the new mission? A pile of files in directories won't work anymore."

Enter Dan Palka, a Bradley University student with a passion for the Macintosh. You may be familiar with Dan through his work on System 7 Today, which has quickly become the site to visit for those interested in keeping older System 7 Macs humming. I've had the pleasure of working with Dan on a few Mac projects as a programmer. In the short time I worked with Dan, I have come to understand what a valuable asset he is to the Mac community because of his drive, vision, and insistence on perfection. During one long chat session where Dan was explaining why a Mac utility we were collaborating on was still not up to his standards, I remarked, "You know you are like a little Steve Jobs, just without the money!"

I recently had a chance to chat with Dan about the launch of the new Info-Mac.

Dan, how did you come to learn about Info-Mac?

Well anybody who works with vintage Macs of course has experience trying to search for certain pieces of software on the Internet. Very often, you'll find references to the old Info-Mac, whether it's a dead link to a download on the archive or a discussion on the old digest. It's from these constant references that I had become aware of how important Info-Mac was over time.

How did you come to own the Info-Mac domain?

One day, while working on System 7 Today, I came across one of these ancient Info-Mac references and suddenly thought to check tho WhoIS status of the domain. Low and behold, they were (at the time) owned by Dan Knight of Low End Mac. I contacted him about it, and he pointed me to Adam Engst, from who Dan acquired them. Adam, in turn, pointed me back to Dan Knight. There seems to have been some issue in the transfer of ownership years ago, and both had let the situation stagnate at that point. Being my persistent self, I pestered both until they agreed to transfer to the domains to me, and here we are today.

What do you intend to do with the site?

First and foremost was restoring the archive and creating a new community to replace the digest. Unlike the common Info-Mac mirror, the new Info-Mac is fully database driven, searchable, and you can post comments and questions about the downloads. Outside of the archive, there are dedicated areas to talk about all things current Mac. I didn't want Info-Mac to simply be a history site. This is my idea of what Info-Mac would have looked like had it never closed.

Info-Mac will be unique in certain features. Users will be able to upload a wide range of files, and they can be up to 50 MB in size. The entire site itself is very clean, elegant, and loads fast. Info-Mac will also be publishing "approved" articles that are separate from the bustling forums, which are more professional in nature. I'm working on the first one right now, Using iWork Exclusively in a Microsoft Office World. A section of the community will be set up to allow all users to contribute and edit more approved articles. Think of it as a peer-review process.

Do you think the new site will satisfy the concerns of Adam and Ed?

In it's finished state, I'd like to think so. We've definitely covered the old "pile of files" problem as mentioned earlier, that's for sure.

When is the launch?

The Alpha was launched on Monday, December 3. I encourage viewers to stop by and check it out. It still is lacking some features, but the "meat" of it is there. This will be followed by Beta, which will have all features and be a 30 day test run of everything.

Thanks Dan. The new site is looking great, and I'm sure it will be a valuable asset to the Mac community. LEM

Do you have fond memories of Info-Mac? If so, send them to and we'll publish them in a future article.

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