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20 Bytes from Stardom

There I was, all alone in a nondescript Holiday Inn in Atlanta. Then I received an early copy of a review Byte Magazine would release in a few days. It was about the software product I invented. It was called Thinx, a program that tied graphic icons to data about the real-life item it represented. You dropped an item into a drawing and formulas you designed would tally data about the whole drawing.

The article stated that even if only part of what was promised was delivered Thinx would be one of the most revolutionary products of the year. I remember the euphoria that washed over me. It's a high like no other and, like an addict, one you want to have again, and again. Needless to say, my product sales did not lead to riches.

I recently Googled Thinx and came up with the following kudos for it:

-- Jerry Pournelle's "1991 User's Choice Award" for "Best DOS and Windows Applications" in Byte Magazine

-- "The Ones to Watch" for the 1990 PC/Computing Magazine's "Most Valuable Product Awards"

-- Nomination for DISCOVER Magazine's "1990 DISCOVER Awards for Technological Innovation"

-- Nomination for "Best Business Application: Graphic or Display Orientation”

Jerry Pournelle (see the first award above) remembered me years later when I started writing and gave my Tales From Our Near Future a nod when I published it.

And what about Thinx? Google it now. The name that some smart guys at a PR firm long ago created for smart graphic software (the X was partly made from an artist’s brushstroke in the logo), is now assigned to a line of women’s underwear with a special, embarrassing feature. Ah, what an ignominious ending for something once so dear to me.

How did Thinx go from there to here? Ah, that’s for another time. I’ve got to keep you tuned in, haven’t I?


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Jackson Coppley

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