20 years ago today, omnigroup.com was born.
At that time, the five of us—Wil Shipley, Tim Wood, Len Case, Mose Wingert, and myself—were still working out of our homes (or sometimes in NeXT’s local sales office, before they exited the hardware business and closed its doors). We were collaborating together on several projects, but we were paid independently—and when those projects ended it seemed somewhat likely that we might scatter to the four winds, possibly joining NeXT’s DBKit team or Lighthouse Design when our current contracts were up.
Fortunately, Tim kept reminding us that we should really form a company. (He said later that he partly did this because he thought it was an excellent idea, and partly because he didn’t know the Lighthouse/NeXT people and didn’t want to get left behind while we worked for them.)
So on Wednesday, September 9, 1992—the day after NeXTSTEP 3.0 shipped—our omnigroup.com registration came back and I set up uucp and SLIP over 14.4Kbps modems to link our home workstations together. (They were all NeXTs, of course.) We started giving everyone our omnigroup.com email addresses, gave the “NeXT Programmers” mailing list (“next-prog”) a permanent home, and started establishing a common reputation and identity.
We’ve seen a lot of changes over the last 20 years, as we transitioned from working on consulting projects to shipping commercial products, from a team of 5 to one of 52—and trying our best to contribute to the platform as it evolved from its humble (but ambitious!) NeXT roots to the wildly successful platform that is now Mac OS X and iOS.
But in some ways, that first change was the biggest: the day we decided to stop investing in our individual identities and start building our collective identity. And after 20 years, I’m still privileged to be able to work each day with smart and talented people who are passionate about creating great software—while treating customers with respect, making a living, and having fun!