23 Mar 2011
I had a magnificent conversation the other day (the day before our new site went live) with the original founder of Blueworld, and the man who started it all: Bill Doerfield.
Although I've had his phone number for a while, I felt a little timid to call him. This is the man, who when I was practically still in diapers, owned the company which I started programming with in the late 90's. I was still working as a professional musician (if you can call "a long-hours job where you don't make money" a profession), and stumbled into website development.
I remember him as some sort of larger-than-life lesser god, like a Steve Jobs.
I was specifically calling him to ensure that I was not being a historical revisionist on our site (which I was accused of being on Day One of taking the LassoSoft helm), and ask for his 20-20 hindsight perspective. I had a series of questions for Bill, including ones about the history of LassoSoft from his perspective - how he found Vince Bonafonte's scripts, and so on. Really nothing I didn't already know (having been through it in detail with Kyle and others), but it was wonderful to tie up some loose ends.
He had some great feedback about the new direction, found some spelling mistakes for us on the new site, and gave us a big hurrah of support.
One of the big questions I asked him is about the single largest sale of a license in Lasso's History - to the Apple company named Claris. It strikes me that Claris wanted to buy Lasso, but due to whatever reasons, it stayed owned by Blueworld. I asked Bill point-blunt;
"Is it true that Apple once paid One Million Dollars for a one-year license of Lasso?"
Bill took the Fifth;
"Well, I can't legally confirm or deny the exact number, but let me say that it was a significant amount of money with lots of zeros and enabled us to improve the language to a point where it was better than all other languages that existed at the time." (a paraphrase)
Let's just say that the actual number is shrouded in the cult of NDA, but that it is, likely, to be be at least one million dollars. At least, that is the number which has been mumbled about in the dark corridors of the Lasso world, where frivolous skeptics knit.
(who knew - Blink tag still works on my browser)
However, a foot/side note to the pricing realities of Lasso is this: a very, very small piece of every Apple you have ever purchased went into the brilliance of Lasso. Something the size of a flea weld on a diode, but something.
It's one of the greatest secrets of the Lasso world - there was a significant investment into Lasso in the early days - enough to hire developers to run amuck and make nifty things - and the investment just stopped in its tracks. The meat of brilliance was still being chewed, but the investment gravy had already been licked off. (But now it is back).
I believe it is important to look back so as to learn from the past. It is nice that the past is still answering the phone and answering questions for the future.
One last shout-out to Bill - I contacted him again last week when I realized that we still haven't been able to track down the LassoTalk archives from before 2004, and that seemed very important to us as a key performance indicator of the activity of CLDs.
Bill couriered us a comprehensive copy of LassoTalk pre-2004. As soon as it arrives, we will put up on the site for everyone to poke around. In reality, it's pretty useless as actual data except for tracking historical fun and SEO, but hey - those are two of my favourite things.
Not only that, but for those who don't know - Bill and I traded places - he became the professional musician. If you have some extra dough (and have already bought all the Lasso stuff you can use), please feel free to navigate to Bill's site and buy one of his CD's;
Thanks, Bill, for everything.