A rather fully fleshed out account of events that led to the existence of The Constitution Resource Center website is presented on this page.
In the name of total honesty, not only are these questions seldom asked, they have, in fact, never been asked explicitly. However, just in case anyone wants to know:
This site is currently a joint venture of TCNbP Company and Simon Haigh.
TCNbP Company (P.O. Box 516, OLLA, LA 71465, (318) 495 - 3484, firstname.lastname@example.org) created the original site, and currently maintains control of site content.
Site design, technical support, promotion and maintenance is Simon Haigh's realm.
TCNbP Company came into being no earlier than July 3, 1989.
On July 3, 1989, CSPAN carried live coverage of the events surrounding publication of that year's rulings by the supreme Court.
Highly controversial and emotional issues were addressed, and the Court's decisions made individuals on both sides of more than one issue very unhappy. Shouting each other down at times, individuals with opposing views made irreconcilably conflicting statements about rights on the steps of the supreme Court building.
An attempt was made to manually index every occurrence of the word "rights" in the Constitution. During that attempt, synonyms for the word right were discovered. Upon that discovery, the need for a better method to find and compile lists of phrases and words related to a topic became apparent.
On July 5, 1989, code writing for the earliest version of the The CONSTITUTION Notebook (TCN) Program began. Over the next 10 years, that code was improved and combined with other materials until it became version 4.2, the package now available for free download on this site.
So for the next seven years or so, the design, development, and promotion of the TCN program was the focus of TCNbP Company's activity, and was strictly an off-line venture.
Between July of 1989, and February of 1992, TCNbP Company worked totally off-line in support of its mission.
Initially, the TCN program was strictly for its creator's use.
By November of that year, plans had changed and a version suitable for other users was available.
That version did not even support a mouse. It was number-based menu driven - type a number and press enter to select features - that kind of menu! (It occurs to me that many, if not most, visitors to this page have never seen such a menu.)
Happily, the notebook features were more flexible and interactive than that, but not much!
Remember, these were the days of PC compatible computers with 128 K (not M) of RAM, one or two 360K floppy drives, and most often, no hard drive, and no mouse.
Early versions of the TCN program ran off 4 360K floppies, or two 720 K floppies, a single 1.44 Meg floppy, or a hard drive. Package configuration and install programs presented a constant challenge.
During those same years, a similar version for Macintosh computers was produced, but was not well received, and was thus abandoned. TCNbP Company would still welcome and fully support a developer for that make of computer who offered to pursue development of a Constitution study aid of similar design for that platform.
By 1992, pc compatibles were arriving in steadily beefed up configurations, with more RAM, faster processors, default 1.44 Mb floppies (on higher-end models), with large hard drives and a mouse. In that same year, affordable software development packages became available that made it easy to produce a DOS-based graphical user interface (GUI) version of the TCN program.
Using such software, the first version of the TCN program that used a mouse was produced that year. In addition to the GUI design, over 100 pages of commentary were added to the dozen or so pages previously provided with the TCN program.
As the very first hard copy of that new commentary was being printed out, news of Ruby Ridge arrived in my mailbox.
The TCN program was promoted at political gatherings inspired by that year's Presidential elections.
Early in 1993, the tragic events in Waco unfolded. Suffice it to say, I was profoundly affected, and I redoubled my efforts regarding the TCN program.
Note: Waco and Me more fully expresses the effect those events had upon me.
In 1994 or so, the first Windows based version of the TCN program was produced, based upon the code and design for the DOS version.
During the off-line years, promotion of the TCN program took the form of classified ads, tradeshow booths, membership in various software professional organizations, and personal appearances at various civic meetings.
Classified ads were placed in technical periodicals such as Shareware Magazine (now defunct), Computer Shopper, and Popular Electronics. Also, ads were placed in AntiShyster Magazine and one of the NRA magazines.
Tradeshow presentations were made at Dallas DFW Exchange (anybody else out there remember Super Saturdays?), the Houston Area PC Users Meeting, and various gun shows in my area.
TCNbP Company became a member of The Association of Shareware Professionals, and The Educational Software Cooperative. These organizations had on-line and off-line distribution channels that greatly furthered the mission of TCNbP Company.
Personal appearances were made at various political meetings, and at the Dallas Area Citizens for Legal Reform, associated with Antishyster Magazine.
TCNbP Company's activities during these years produced mixed results.
Summarily, TCNbP Company first went on line in late 1992. It continued on-line on a limited basis until August, 1996, at which point in time, TCNbP Company began working rapidly to a full on-line presence.
In more detail . . .
As a result of its off-line activities, TCNbP Company began to receive considerable complimentary publications and free offers.
One such offer that arrived in late summer 1992 was a copy of America On-Line (AOL) software with a nice personal letter from an interested compensated AOL employee. So, in late September, or early October of 1992, TCNbP Company became an AOL subscriber.
In that year, America On-Line was not a local call from TCNbP Company's home office. Although the subscription fee was 30 bucks a month or so, phone tolls were prohibitive; so on-line activity was limited.
On-line activities consisted mainly of uploading TCN program updates to the AOL software library and limited participation in AOL bbs discussions.
Then, in 1996, AOL got hooked up to the internet. A search for the key word "constitution" on WebCrawler produced over 20,000 hits in February of that year. Although, less than two hours was spent on the net that month, internet surcharges amounted to 70 bucks. Hence, no internet for TCNbP company.
Happily, the local phone company began offering internet access services later that year, so in August of 1996, TCNbP Company became an on-line and off-line venture.
A homepage was established on AOL's servers, while the local phone company provided unlimited access for surfing.
Since that time, TCNbP Company has moved from being an off-line company supported by on-line activity, to an on-line company, supported somewhat by its off-line activity, namely its one and only product, the TCN program. After all, how many germane websites can boast having their own original related off-line software?!
Going on-line produced the following changes in activities undertaken at TCNbP Company:
Sense of community: Remember those 20,000 hits produced by WebCrawler in February of 1996 at a cost of 70 dollars out of my pocket? In September, TCNbP Company gained virtually cost-free access to those same 20,000 hits. It seemed as though I had died and gone to cyber-heaven!
One of my very first on-line acts after getting my unlimited access subsciption was to get back no WebCrawler and repeat that search!
One of my earliest realizations was that there were many people out there bright enough to have a computer and click a mouse who were also interested enough in the Constitution to publish related pages on the web.
Hence, I felt like I had company, that I belonged to a community. It is easy to forget how long it can be between monthly periodicals and tradeshows, especially since being on the internet almost 5 years, now. Whew - words fail!
My next realization was how tedious it could be to find the good pages in all the listings produced by the search engines. From that realization, a very logical extension of the TCNbP Company mission would be to establish a web page that compiled lists of useful sites and organized them in a manner useful to interested surfers.
Prior to that, TCNbP Company's only product was the TCN program. Hence, the mission of the company seemed to be to promote the program, and only the program. Upon establishing a presence on the web, the mission was clarified at the same time it was extended (as was mentioned previously), in that the objective became to promote self-study of the Constitution, itself, not just to promote the wide distribution of the TCN program.
If TCNbP Company's existence was first inspired by events of July 3, 1989, re-kindled by the fires at Waco, and then spurred on again by the discovery of the internet, it was almost killed by the great impeachment debacle of 1998.
Do you wish I hadn't mentioned that?
For two years between August, 1996 and Fall 1998, I scoured the web daily in search of individuals to contact regarding the Constitution and my program, and my site, and for link exchanges. As of March 31, 2001, most links on this website were found during that period.
So disheartened was I over the great impeachment debacle, that in late 1998, I pretty much ceased my daily updates to the site. This continued until March, 2000 at which time I stated my intent to cease and desist all activities related to the TCN program as of July 4, 2000 and, to explain, posted the following Goodbye letter.
And that would have been the end of TCNbP Company and its mission, had it not been for . . .
Not long before posting the letter hyperlinked above, I had linked to US Constitution in the 20th Century which is hosted by Simon Haigh. As was my custom at the time, I emailed him to tell him about the unique honor he was about to receive for that page, since I posted it on my Top Constitution Sites page.
Simon thus developed an awareness and interest in my page.
Visiting my page on a followup basis, Simon read the goodbye letter and contacted me at once. Turns out, in addition to his interest in and knowledge of the US Constitution, he has some pretty good technical savvy on the net. So he offered technical assistance.
With his expertise, the TCN site has gone from 40 hits/day to 200 average, with a peak of 700 in one day during the 35-day post-election 2000 events.
Many thanks Simon!
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2001 by TCNbP Company.
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