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Mike Works to Evolve Shareware for over 14 years...

Mike joined the ASP (Association of Shareware Professionals) in 1993, attempting to start his own business in finance software. "Shareware" is a try-before-you-buy marketing concept. He formed a bond with other ASP members on CompuServe discussing programming and marketing with other people who were trying to do the same. It was a perfect partnership. Mike quit ASP in 2007. Here is his story...

Microsoft Windows Emerges...

The tide eventually changed for the ASP (as did software in general). The internet was becoming more popular. Mike was working as an Accounts Payable Supervisor for a company that made super-mini computers. NASA used our computers to run thier space simulators to teach astronauts how to fly a rocket. He was on the internet when only colleges and computer companies were there, and long before Al Gore said he "invented the Internet". <smile> The internet steam-rolled over BBS's. (Bulletin Board Systems) DOS (Disk Operating Systems) and programmers had to migrate to Windows 3 for their programs to survive.

ASP Has Fallout...

ASP started losing a lot of members. The ASP President resigned. Open board seats could not be filled, no matter how long the election periods were extended. Many members said the ASP was sinking and the membership renewal numbers unfortunately confirmed it. Several people wondered if ASP could survive much longer.

Mike started posting in the ASP CompuServe (1995-1996) forum that things should be “updated” in the ASP. Some people disagreed with his proposals and a few members even quit the ASP over it. (Most were members who could not move their programs from DOS to Windows). Things got tricky and sticky, but politics and change usually is. Mike decided to run for the ASP Board of Directors (BoD), knowing that ASP board seats were empty because no one wanted to donate their time to the ASP, and elections/voting for leaders were not happening. Mike felt that if ASP could not foster BoD elections, ASP was sunk as an organization. He wanted to change that and bring back the election process. Other people believed in what Mike was trying to do and stood up to run for the election process.

Mike Gets Elections Back in the ASP...

The internet was growing and people like Mike wanted the ASP around for the excellent resources and the networking opportunities it provided. Over two years, Mike ran for the BoD twice and withdrew both times, as there were still no elections and he didn't want to be nominated by "default". Mike consulted a number of members to encourage a run for a new ASP BoD election. In fact, more people were finally nominated than available board seats. ASP elections were reborn! Mike and other great pioneers were elected to the board (and ASP elections have endured to this day, 2007). This is why elections will supercharge organizations that embrace the principle. It has worked for ASP and in the USA, over 200 years. "Elections" embolden Freedom and volunteers. Mike was glad to be the driving force behind the new elections for the ASP. The tides were changing for a positive effect on ASP and it's members. Next came the HARD work...

While serving on the ASP BoD, Mike dug the ASP Booth out of many years of storage and cleaned off the cobwebs for Trade Show promotions. The ASP Booth was reborn after a 5-year absence! Mike's shareware products did well and he was luckily "able to afford" to attend several SIC's and other gatherings, where he won a few awards, setup and helped serve in the ASP Booth, and was able to sponsor a Pizza Party (they ate a LOT of pizza, holy smokes, broke the bank! :) ) for the Saint Louis ASP Schmooze. Mike also inducted the first 6 members into the new ASP Hall of Fame (HoF), with another fellow Board Member. It was an AWESOME event for ASP...a new HoF! ASP was on the rebound! Membership began to grow again. In fact, everything for ASP began to grow!

ASP embraces a new file submission standard - PAD

Richard Holler (ASP Executive Director) and Harold Holmes (ASP President) had been working on a file submission program for Richards side business, Author Direct, a file submission service to the major download sites on the internet. Mike (still on the ASP Board) thought the ASP should embrace a file submission standard and offer it free to the public, hoping to increase the ASP membership because of our efforts in the shareware community. The ASP membership agreed. The Board of Directors agreed, it was a win-win effort for ASP. A committee was formed to explore the options and select the right tool for ASP to embrace. The tool finally agreed on was the tool Harold and Richard had been working on. The ASP membership brainstormed a name and agreed to call that tool PAD (Portable Application Description).

PAD *EXPLODES* ASP membership and the interest in ASP from software distributors and developers around the world. Richard and Harold had the idea for a file submission utility. Mike had the idea to grab such a concept and expand on it to benefit ASP.  PAD did just that. Today it is an amazing offering from ASP. It now has code-signing in addition to the original concept ideas. IMHO, ASP has PAD and should NEVER let it go! They should make it everything it can possibly be, and ASP has done a fine job growing the concept into reality.

ASP turns 20 years old...

ASP turned 20 years old in 2007, all the while promoting the try-before-you-buy shareware concept. The "shareware" name may be called many things over many years, but the concept will never die. Mike does not claim to have changed ASP by himself. But he DOES claim that he sparked a flame in our membership to make the needed changes happen as technology evolved. The internet supercharged ASP and our membership. The volunteers are doing a fine job at understanding the changing times.

To this day, Mike considers himself the Rodney Dangerfield of Shareware... he never gets any respect. <smile> But he knew things had to change and he was glad to "stir the pot" with such change. Shareware Authors around the world work on fostering Mikes and ASP's work, and that sounds like a good plan to him! Mike became "semi-retired" and others stepped up to keep ASP going.

Mike makes a new ASP Logo happen...

Mike came back years later with an idea to promote ASP's upcoming 20th Anniversary. Mike went on to interview the original "Father of Shareware" for ASP and thought a new 20th anniversary logo would be good for ASP. You can read the entire interview here. 

Mike DID get a new logo for ASP with the help of another long-time ASP member. There are other variations of this logo that Mike saw in ASPects Magazine, but here is the one on the main page of the ASP web site. Mike was glad a logo was embraced. Mike and his friend made it happen for ASP, not the ASP BoD. Nobody thanked either one of us. We did not want thanks anyway, we did it out of respect for what ASP had accomplished, even though the BoD made things difficult. No matter, the work got done! For the record, this logo does not mention ASP. Mike has seen better logos available. ASP should embrace a better logo for their main web page. It's not the first time Mike has been critical of ASP. <smile>

Mike makes the logo and interview happen then Leaves the ASP...

Sadly, Mike ended up quitting the ASP over this. The current BoD of ASP felt they did not need to "roll up their sleeves" and help out with the research and work required for a 20th anniversary celebration and Mike grew tired of it quickly. "Sitting" on the BoD is good for ASP, but not for membership growth, or new projects. Without teamwork and elbow grease there is nothing substantial to bind the organization together!

Mike felt that all of the "teamwork" he had encouraged was gone. Ironically, now ASP had elections and a full BoD, but a BoD who relied on other people to carry out the wishes of the membership. Board Members in a volunteer organization are not there to only make the decisions, they need to help do the work to. Mike delivered the finalized interview, only to be told it was useless in it's current form, even though it was published in the June issue of ASP's membership magazine, ASPects, on the front page no less! Go figure. Mike was glad to see that happen, but felt outcast by the current board and officers. They will say they did "everything" to promote ASP's 20th Anniversary, but Mike says they were a stumbling block in the way and only the hard-working volunteers made it happen for ASP.

Bottom Line...

After 17 years, Mike has seen many businesses come and go. He is glad ASP used his research (and that of other members) and ideas to further their goals. That is what he always wanted to do for ASP since day one. ASP's existence is fueled by volunteers like Mike. It's teamwork that makes a team and that's the bottom line.

UPDATE 2018: Today the ASP is called the "Association of Software Professionals" and pretty much done. It was really hard for many to embrace the word "SHAREWARE" and was one of the things that caused their demise, even after changing their name. Mike can be found these days running his business at http://www.mrtec.com  Mike's favorite saying is "Long live Shareware" even though the ASP has thrown that away. Over the years, many people have copied his ideas, just like billion-dollar company Intuit/QuickBooks tried to do. M & R Technologies was on the Internet long before Intuit, and they were just trying to catch up. The stories we could tell. It's been a crazy 30 years for sure and we're still here. We wonder what the "Internet" will look like 50 years from now...

Story by Robyn Raustad, 2007.

http://www.mrtec.com