Tuesday, January 31, 2006


Eiffel History: Eiffel Outlook Magazine

Back in 1991, Eiffel was new and exciting. We eagerly awaited news of each new development - desperately keen for any information that would enable us to use Eiffel for our next project.

Most people did not have internet access back then. Believe it or not, people used papernet. They smeared ink on pieces of paper and got someone to carry those peices of paper to other people. One kind of "pieces of paper" was a magazine called Eiffel Outlook, and it carried the latest news about the world of Eiffel.

Eiffel Outlook was started by Rock Howard, of Rock Solid Software. The first issue was dated April 1991 and comprised 20 black-and-white pages. Subsequent issues kept the same format, although the page count sometimes reached 24 or 28.

Eiffel Outlook was published every two months, and there was certainly a demand for such a publication, for circulation soon grew to over five hundred.

In addition to news of Eiffel products, a bunch of talented contributors wrote about the techniques of object-oriented programming using Eiffel. There were also industry case studies and product reviews, along with conference programs and reports.

As circulation grew, Rock Howard signed up international distributors who would print Eiffel Outlook locally from PostScript files provided by Rock, and mail it to subscribers in their country. I added a page of UK Eiffel news, and had about 35 subscribers. Subscriptions were £29 per year. Frieder Monninger of SiG Computer in Germany (now Object Tools GmbH) was another distributor - if my memory serves me correctly he had about 200 subscribers.

Around January 1993 Rock Howard teamed up with Steve Tynor to form Tower Technology Corporation, with the goal of developing an Eiffel compiler to be sold as TowerEiffel. Unfortunately, Eiffel Outlook took a backseat to compiler development and the issues became spaced further and further apart, and the font size and white space increased as the content decreased. But still each new issue was looked forward to with great anticipation, and eagerly devoured once it arrived.

All good things come to an end eventually. After Volume 4 Issue 6 in September/October 1995, we waited for the next issue. Rock Howard promised strenuously that the magazine was still being published, but no more issues ever came. After a few months I sent a letter to my subscribers offering a refund on the balance of their subscriptions, and Eiffelists everywhere turned to the newly-invented World Wide Web for our Eiffel information.

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