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Trumpet Winsock Creator Made Little Money 358

omast writes "It appears that Peter Tattam, creator of Trumpet Winsock, got very little for this piece of software. For those of you who do not remember — or did not need it because were already outside the MS Windows world — Trumpet Winsock was a shareware program that provided TCP/IP functionality to Windows machines back in 1994-1995. It allowed millions to connect to the Internet back then; I was one of them. According to the article, Tattam made very little money from the program as it was widely distributed but rarely paid for."
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Trumpet Winsock Creator Made Little Money

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  • by singingjim1 ( 1070652 ) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @11:07PM (#35426272)
    I always thought it was just a piece of accessory software that was provided to make Windows work. Never even considered it was supposed to cost money to use. And back then bulletin boards provided everything and anything you needed without the need for pesky "Keys" or registration.
    • Yeah, I had no idea it was supposed to cost money either.
      • by King_TJ ( 85913 )

        It's been so long, I can't even recall all the details anymore. But honestly, I thought it was a situation where some early version of Trumpet Winsock didn't require a payment to use it (though maybe the documentation asked for it if you kept using the program?), but later versions added the registration requirement?

        I just have some vague recollection of everyone using an older (and more buggy) version of Trumpet that was handed out on disks provided by colleges and universities for their students to get o

        • by kriston ( 7886 )

          I most certainly paid for my copy of Trumpet Winsock. Even after Microsoft Windows for Workgroups 3.11 could be upgraded with the "Wolverine" Winsock implementation I still preferred the better Trumpet version until Windows 95 came around.

          The best legend I heard about Microsoft Wolverine was when a bunch of middle managers were leaving a "Bill" meeting, one of them groaned to the other, "Now I have to go find out what TCP/IP means."

          Even so, Wolverine didn't know about dialup PPP so Trumpet was still the wi

      • I knew... I think I used it too. Makes me feel guilty now... back in those days, I was way more poor than I am now. (Still barely getting by but not as bad as back then... guess I'll look this guy up and send him some money or something.)

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's the problem with the redistributed freeware model. While everyone is working their 9 to 5 jobs and using the software the guys spending their time writing it aren't making a living. Once they repost the software the chain is broken and the poor writer goes unpaid. Years ago I had this happen with Winzip where I actually paid for it but it wasn't the original writer selling it so he got stiffed. I got more careful after that episode.

      • This wasn't "freeware". It was shareware. A commercial product.

        I never really liked that model, mostly because it only ever seemed to exist on the PC. Everywhere else the world was content to give software for free. But on PC I just saw far to people with the mindset that if you used a computer you deserved to get paid for it; including some people who would attach readme files to buggy junk that read "I learned to program while writing this, you owe me $20 if you run it once".

        Of course there were a few

    • by HotNeedleOfInquiry ( 598897 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:06AM (#35426598)
      If it wasn't for the mindless bug in the trial period timer. On the 60 day trial version, you could set the date on your machine to current+10 years, install it, run it once, set the date back to current and have a trial period of 10years+60 days. I did it. And I wasn't the only one.
      • Even funnier... you could use the exact same trick on Windows NT 4.0's trial CD and do just as fine.

      • If it wasn't for the mindless bug in the trial period timer. On the 60 day trial version, you could set the date on your machine to current+10 years, install it, run it once, set the date back to current and have a trial period of 10years+60 days.

        It's pretty lame to call that a "bug". Unless you expect anyone to believe you did that unintentionally, I'd use the word "exploit" and assign it to you instead of the Winsock guy.

    • DRM (Score:5, Funny)

      by RoFLKOPTr ( 1294290 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:27AM (#35426710)

      I don't get why he didn't just require an internet connection before Trumpet would run...

      • Because carrier pigeons did not have GPS back then, packet loss was significant, so getting the license key initially was environmentally unsound due to excessive, accidental pigeon depletion. So we had to find another network.
    • I actually paid for it, by mailing a check, I think. That was back when I was in my "Gosh the internet is NEAT" phase and I actually sent money to shareware authors so the wonderful hippie ethic of the net would continue and rainbows and unicorns would eventually appear, or something, Anyway, I'm glad I did. It's weird, but Trumpet Winsock popped into my mind the other day, probably because I saw that James Gleik has a new book out and I remembered using his Pipeline service with its dodgy "Pink Slip" emula

    • by gknoy ( 899301 )

      If he put up a paypal donation link, and a page saying "I wrote Trumpet Windsock. Please donate if you used it without paying", I wonder what he'd take in.

    • by cgenman ( 325138 )

      I had always thought it was provided by Microsoft.

      Admittedly, I was on a Mac at the time. But even I knew what Trunpet Winsock was, and that everyone needed to use it.

      Donated. Good luck, sir.

    • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @02:56AM (#35427238)

      Phil Karn's KA9Q and MIT PC/IP both predated it. MIT PC/IP was commercialized into FTP Software, Inc., and supplied Microsoft in 1996. [] []

      I remember Bob Wallace, founder of Quicksoft, author of PC-Write, and pretty much the inventor of shareware marketing, despite Andrew Fluegelman releasing PC-Talk first. Bob was one of the few people who "got it", although the software industry has ironically not recovered from his usability choices.

      It was a conversation at a conference in the 1980's. Bob said "I don't sell software; software is all up here", motioning with his hands around his temples; "I sell manuals".

      Bob did this by putting enough functionality in his product that people felt it was worth paying for, and he made it obscure enough that it really was not that useful without a manual, and he sold manuals cheaply enough that it was easier to buy them (and get a disk at the same time) than it was to print them out on tractor feed fan-fold paper.

      Software still hasn't recovered its usability from the intentional/unnecessary complexity caused by shareware authors. The problem for Trumpet Winsock was it pretty much had nothing to sell beyond what was available already, and it didn't have anyone over a barrel for documentation. I made the same mistake with my own shareware once upon a time, and made pretty much nothing on it as well. Live and learn.

      -- Terry

  • by MrEricSir ( 398214 ) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @11:07PM (#35426278) Homepage

    Traditional shareware, I mean. Has anyone ever made a living off of it?

    I know there's plenty of "crippleware" or game demos that claim to be shareware, but traditional shareware involved giving the product away for free and then begging for money. (Sort of like public radio.)

    • had something to do with shareware.

      or so im told.

      • No, those were limited-content demos according to the parent's description.

        • Yes. And also, this business model was called the "Apogee model," after a company that was most definitely not id, although the confusion is a little understandable :)
      • I've heard that Quake (1) still holds the record of most shareware copies being registered - estimated at 8%. Most shareware has a much, much lower rate. Which is why you rarely see any around without nag-screens and such.

        • but I think you needed to pay to get all the maps in Quake 1.

          Other shareware works with all or most parts with just nag screens.

        • Winamp MP3 Player [] was originally freeware, but the author's mom told him he should really try offering it as shareware. Lots of people paid $10 in return for a player that they used for a lot of music that they didn't pay for :-)

        • Quake might have held the record for the number of copies registered. I think the game VGA Planets probably had a much higher percentage of registered users.

          Why? You needed a unique key to play it online. Quite a new concept in 1992.

          It was a fun game and well worth the $35 I spent on it. I played it a lot between 1994-2001.

          It's a play-by-email game with up to 11 players. (I think 14 in version 4, but I stopped playing with version 3.5).

    • mIRC (Score:3, Informative)

      by westlake ( 615356 )

      Traditional shareware, I mean. Has anyone ever made a living off of it?

      mIRC chart is a classic $20 shareware program, introduced in 1995, now at. v7.17.

      32 million dowloads from CNET's (since Dec 2010), currently about 125,000 downloads a week from CNET alone.

      TreeCardGames's SolSuite Solitaire (now at v 11.2) is another example, with about 4,000 downloads a week from

      • Re:mIRC (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hoggoth ( 414195 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:17AM (#35426670) Journal

        You didn't even remotely address the question. Out of those 32 million downloads, how many have paid for it?

        • If only 3% of the 32 million did he'll make enough to live decently while working on the program.

          BTW we have a somewhat modern version of the old shareware model in Giveaway Of The Day []. The way it works for those that haven't tried it is each day a single different program is offered free and they give you this app for free, you can load it as many times on as many PCs as you own that day, and they usually offer along with it a chance to get a more powerful program or other offerings at a greatly reduced

      • Call me a sack of shit but I've downloaded mIRC myself about 15 times in my life and I have never sent anyone a dime for it. I know I'm far from being the only one who can honestly say this.

        Downloads have nothing to do with marketshare or (in this case) profit.
        • Call me a sack of shit but I've downloaded mIRC myself about 15 times in my life and I have never sent anyone a dime for it. I know I'm far from being the only one who can honestly say this. Downloads have nothing to do with marketshare or (in this case) profit.

          Around 5 years ago I remember Khaled saying that he had received something like 10 registrations only!

    • From my FidoNet days, some 15 years ago, I recall a netmail/echomail editor called GoldEd. That was shareware; the only thing you got when you had it registered was a tagline that indicated so; yet many people did register and the author was making money off of it. It was said that he was actually making a living with it.

      And indeed regarding to Winsock, well I never knew it was supposed to be shareware... I always thought it was simply something that belonged to Windows, like a kind of network driver.

    • Traditional shareware, I mean. Has anyone ever made a living off of it?

      JASC PaintShop started as shareware. It took off enough to warrant Voit quitting his job as a commercial airline pilot. I remember reading an article where Voit talked about the registration rates on PaintShop; not very high. But he wasn't phased by this. The low percentage of registrations were enough for commercial success and he was keen to see the software spread and collect additional registrations than sit unknown and unpurchased.

      • PSP in particular is a great example of OTHER ways to make money. For years PSP CDs were included with graphic cards, pen tablets, mice and other peripherals. This provides licensing income without having to worry abot the "shareware" aspect of it. Some graphics cards even came with a registered copy on the CD, which added substantial value back in the days when the only competition was a $400 copy of Photoshop.

        BTW I did pop 35 bucks for pkware - unfortunately it was only months before Katz' death.

        • Back in the day, I think that was the main way graphics editors were sold. Remember when you had to buy a mouse for your first computer? It probably came with PCPaint or something similar.

          Then scanners came along and they tended to come with either Paint Shop Pro or Photoshop Elements.

          Presumably these distribution channels were profitable in the short run.

        • None the less, it did start as commercially successful shareware. Then it started popping up as bundles (wonder what the deals were there). And eventually, Jasc was purchased by Corel (another way to make money in the software business).
  • by horatio ( 127595 ) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @11:07PM (#35426280)
    Trumpet Winsock was provided to us (though I don't recall if it was hosted or just a link) by Ohio State when I was a freshman there. I definitely didn't pay for it, but it got me started into the world of networking and TCP/IP.
    • Trumpet Winsock was provided to us (though I don't recall if it was hosted or just a link) by Ohio State when I was a freshman there. I definitely didn't pay for it, but it got me started into the world of networking and TCP/IP.

      I think various universities licensed it for their users - I got my copy the same way (except at U of Washington).

    • I installed it on hundreds of machines at the University of Tennessee while I was a student employee there. I primarily did professor and office installs, not students, but until today I didn't realize it was anything other than freeware. It was simply one of the things I was trained to install.

      • IIRC, it was free for academic/educational use, and didn't have any license enforcement in the software. It just told you that you should pay for it.
  • Wow, that's one early piece of malware ;)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @11:13PM (#35426322)

    At our prompting Peter has set up a Paypal account where you can make donations. I invite you to chip in to reward a man whose work let so many of us open the door, for the first time, to an important part of our lives.

    Thanks, Peter.
    Donate to []

    • While I certainly think people should be paid for their innovation and creativity. I'm poor. But I'll give a $1 just for old time's sake. I invite you all to do the same. I am in no way affiliated with the author of the software. And if you feel like donating another dollar to cover my dollar, and fund my mountain bike racing season, send it to (gratuitous horning-in on someone else's fundraising)
      • by syousef ( 465911 )

        Why oh why does this feel like astroturfing? []

        I'm in 2 minds about it. On the one hand I think he should be paid. On the other my only recollection of using Trumpet Winsock was in my very earliest days connecting to uni on an old machine and I think it was actually shareware (quickly replaced by win95). And I'm not sure if paying someone who's trying to live off work done a couple of decades ago is particularly moral. I think I'd rather pay for a more recent product.

    • I'm boycotting paypal you insensitive clod.
    • I remember back when I had a (work supplied) 386 running SCO Unix* - when they replaced it with a 486, I was allowed to keep the old beastie... so at my missus' insistence, I installed a dual-boot - Yggdrasil Linux (I know), with the other option being DOS and Windows 3.1. Had a crap modem on it (seriously, 2400 baud), but discovered that getting online wasn't so easy in 'doze... The Linux side gave me an easy SLIP connection and let me do what I wanted. To get the ;doze side going online, a buddy coughed u

  • by h3llfish ( 663057 ) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @11:27PM (#35426406)
    once you consider the fact that it must have been pretty lucrative to have "author of Winsock" on his resume. Not all of the financial rewards of creating something are direct, and not all are financial.
    • by seifried ( 12921 )
      No but getting several million people to pay you say.. $10 each means you don't need a resume anymore =).
      • by h3llfish ( 663057 ) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @11:51PM (#35426522)
        But why does he deserve millions of dollars? How many hours did he spend working on this software? I suspect not enough to justify a million dollar paycheck. If he hadn't written it, would someone else? Surely. So how big of a payday does he deserve? Obviously, there are a lot of people in this world who contribute little and get millions anyhow, so I would much rather see this guy be rich than some brainless beauty or Wall Street crook. But the best of all possible worlds would be one where people are paid a fair amount for a day's work.
        • by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:12AM (#35426630) Homepage

          Value is not measured in hours, otherwise sports stars would be making about $10k/year. Creating software that allows millions of people to connect to the internet definitely provides value. I would certainly argue that a dollar a person is on the low side.

          • Obviously the value of labor is not simply measured in hours, which is why I also mentioned the feasibility of someone else doing the work. Software engineers are valuable, doubtless, so he certainly deserved to be paid more than someone who had spent the same amount of time making pizza, which also creates value but is something that far more people are able to do.

            A dollar a person is low? Thinking like that is why Bill Gates is so rich.
          • Creating software that allows millions of people to connect to the internet definitely provides value.

            When buying a bottle of water, you don't pay a vast sum for it just because you'd die without water. Instead you look at the second most expensive brand, and if the difference isn't worth it, you buy that instead.

            It's not how much value you create, it's how hard it is for somebody else to replicate it.

            There was bound to be a prevailing cheap or free TCP/IP stack for Windows.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by DuranDuran ( 252246 )

          A plumber recently gave me a bill for $300. But I told him, "All you did was replace a lousy washer! That couldn't cost more than ten cents! I want an itemized bill!". So he gave me one. It read:

          Washer: .10
          Knowing where to put it: 299.90

        • I imagine in your world, no one qualifies for a million-dollar paycheck.

          Would someone else have written it? Possibly. Did they? No. Not every need is filled by programmers working for free, see how many projects are abandoned on Source Forge. Programmers, even if they are scratching an itch, have to be able to feed themselves and their families: if it's cheaper / faster to just buy a stack than develop one, many will.

          F*ck, if I had to deal with clients who demanded that my software be free, because 'surely

          • "my work for something like Cancer, or MS?"

            If you can come up with a cure for Microsoft, the whole of civilization will owe you something. And curing cancer would be almost as good.

        • Hey H3llfish,

          We don't question why people should have what they have here. That's class warfare. Today it's the shareware guy, tomorrow it's some kid who got expelled from Harvard for theft. People who have more money than you, no matter how they got it, have it because they're better than you. They're smarter, better-looking, harder-working and God flat-out loves them more than you. We don't need your whining jealously around here.

          Remember, if you feed the poor, you're a saint, but if you ask why the poor

  • by urbanriot ( 924981 ) on Tuesday March 08, 2011 @11:39PM (#35426452)
    Back when it was widely used, I thought it was free piece of software as local internet providers were sending out disks (and later discs) with this software as part of their internet signup. Based on how many times I've installed it without realizing it for various people, I feel a little guilty over my naivete.
  • Maybe I misremember, but ISTR that the unregistered version was supposed to kick you off your connection after a certain time.

    OTOH, maybe that's just Windows 3.1 I'm remembering.

  • by Paul Fernhout ( 109597 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:06AM (#35426600) Homepage

    Seems like a more than fair deal. :-)

    Or at least, that's what my wife and I like to tell ourselves about our GPL'd garden simulator (a six person-year labor of love around the same time period): []

    There have always been four different economies throughout human history:
            * A subsistence economy ("There's some lovely berries over here.");
            * A gift economy ("The meat from this deer is going to spoil; let's share it with the tribe.");
            * A planned economy ("Let's put the longhouse here.");
            * An exchange economy ("You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours.");

    Their relative balance shifts with changes to culture, technology, and other circumstances.

    See also the comment I made here: []

    So, we can expect the balance between those four economies to change as our technology and society changes, perhaps with:
            * A subsistence economy through 3D printing and local PV solar panels or other clean energy technologies (like cold fusion or something else);
            * A gift economy through the internet, like sharing digital files to use with our 3D printers;
            * A planned economy on a variety of scales, including through taxes, subsidies and regulation affecting market dynamics; and
            * An exchange economy marketplace softened by a basic income.

  • We bought a license to deploy it at a company I worked for in 1997. It worked well for us. Supposedly he was writing an OS that was Windows Compatible, but I never heard anything about it. No screenshots or anything.
  • Updates to story (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jacques Chester ( 151652 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @12:12AM (#35426628)
    I'm the guy at HN who started the appeal, including the related website []. See this thread for updates []. In summary, in light of the hundreds of donations, Peter has issued an amnesty for all individual users of Trumpet Winsock up to the end of 2012.
    • In summary, in light of the hundreds of donations, Peter has issued an amnesty for all individual users of Trumpet Winsock up to the end of 2012.

      So till the end of time?

    • Thanks, but I stopped using Trumpet Winsock when I installed OS2. But, if I could just find that 9600 baud modem again, I could dial up my old BBS ...oh, they don't have a modem bank anymore. And why don't these kids use punctuation anymore in the chat rooms? Can we have 1994 back again?
  • "very little" - what's that in $$'s?
  • We had MacTCP and Open Transport. I remember an hackish program called Butt Trumped that was supposedly able to crash computers using the unregistered version of Trumped Windsock. I just never gave enough of a damn to try to get anyone's IP address.


  • by bl8n8r ( 649187 ) on Wednesday March 09, 2011 @08:49AM (#35428434)
    Over the past 20 years i've written about a dozen pieces of shareware. Open sourced several programs too.  The part that was important to me was that people find my software useful or fun. I do it because I enjoy the work, not because I want to get rich.

I've noticed several design suggestions in your code.