There Is No Cat

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Friday, January 3, 2003

Do their insurance rates go down now that they're 25?

O'Reilly & Associates, court publishers to the Internet revolution, are celebrating their 25th anniversary. They're looking for stories. Here's mine.

I still have my first Nutshell handbook. It had a comb-binding, and had a brown cover with a picture of an acorn on it, so it pre-dates the advent of O'Reilly animals. It was 1987, and I had just discovered Usenet in my then-new job at the home of UNIX, AT&T. I was looking for more information about how to get the most out of this neat tool, and all the people in the newsfroups were lauding a book by this little company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, that made the most UNIX-savvy books. So I sent away for a copy of Managing UUCP and Usenet and learned so much about the way things worked on this nascent network. I used to tell people that it was the book that changed my life; that's probably still true, come to think of it. I probably wouldn't have been net-savvy enough to pick up on the web when I did without it, for example, which deflected my career in the direction of making web sites. Not to mention that I met my future wife on Usenet in 1990.

The other early O'Reilly book I had wasn't actually published by O'Reilly & Associates. It was a copy of the classic UNIX Text Processing written by Tim O'Reilly and Dale Daugherty. Working for a technical publications group at AT&T as a Production Editor, the book was my bible, and had all the answers to the esoteric questions I was asking about troff, vi, sed, macros, and all the other arcana involved in making books with baling wire and string. I was pretty generous with my books, loaning them out as needed, but I never let UNIX Text Processing out of my sight. But then, none of the other Production Editors needed to borrow it, because they all had copies of their own.

Nowadays, I could probably fill an entire bookcase with my O'Reilly books. Happy 25th Anniversary! (Found via Kottke.)

Posted at 11:04 PM


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This site is copyright © 2002-2024, Ralph Brandi.

What do you mean there is no cat?

"You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat."

- Albert Einstein, explaining radio

There used to be a cat

[ photo of Mischief, a black and white cat ]

Mischief, 1988 - December 20, 2003

[ photo of Sylvester, a black and white cat ]

Sylvester (the Dorito Fiend), who died at Thanksgiving, 2000.


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