Throughout the last 20-years, we have worked hard throughout the community to bring technology and businesses together, hosting awesome events and creating what we call ‘Softec Moments’.
Let’s look at some of the highlights of Softec’s history and while we do – let’s not forget the amazing (and sometime hilarious) technology and cultural headlines at the time.
To get our bearings, let’s start out in the mid-80’s – before the birth of Softec.
The first cell phone was available to the public in 1984 weighing in at 2.4 pounds and was the size of a shoebox, New Coke was introduced in 1985 and CD-ROMs were released in 1989.
In 1994 56k modems were considered screaming fast, Netscape was the latest thing, and 4MB of RAM was a huge. It was also at this time that the original idea of Softec came to be, not as a non-profit but as a local Technology VC fund.
And in 1995 while beanie babies became the current Internet sensation being sold all over the newly launched auction site, eBay – Softec transformed into a technology networking group.
The following year Softec officially launched as a 501(c)(6) and held their first Technology symposium with local celebrity Eric Schwefler giving the Keynote.
In 1997, local startup Xing Technologies sold to Real Networks for $75 million – creating an influx of cash and talent in the local tech community. And 12x speed CD-ROMs were the norm.
Who remembers what happened in April 1998? – I’m sure you have seen it on YouTube and if you haven’t don’t you dare google it now – At COMDEX Bill Gates was demonstrating Windows 98 and the computer crashed during his presentation
In 1999 shelves were emptied as IT departments worldwide stocked up on supplies of caffeine and frozen pizza in preparation for Y2K. But we survived and mankind has learned learned so much leaving me confident that we are prepared for Y3K, even if beanie babies make a comeback.
By the year 2000 – Softec held 5 annual Technology Symposiums and the IT departments all across the country were quickly burning through their caffeine stockpile as they busily worked the clean all those computers infected from the ‘I LOVE YOU’ email virus.
Not to be outdone, the following year Dutch programmer, Jan de Wit, released and email virus purportedly claiming to contain pictures of Anna Kournikova. Soon after, obviously frustrated by the lack of Anna Kournikova pictures in those fake emails, programmer Bram Cohen releases bitTorrent – one of several distributed file sharing programs available at the time.
Also in 2001 Softec had the first TechBrew meeting and the ‘Softec Moment’ was born when Ed Stevens and Sean Collier met at a Softec open house which blossomed into shopatron.
Concerned for the environment and our landfills filling up too quickly – No More AOL CDs.com launched trying to stop AOL’s CD Marketing campaign flood. Obviously AOL’s efforts paid off – because by 2002 they reached their peak of 27 million subscribers. People were so busy checking their aol.com email, they didn’t have time to vacuum and iRobot capitalized on this releasing the Roomba.
Also in 2002 local business CustomFlix was launched and the first local high school robotics team was started at Atascadero high School by John Mirron
We saw wireless get faster in 2003 with 802.11g quadrupling wireless speeds to 54 megabits per second – this extra speed was perfect timing to allow everyone faster access to news of the dotCOM bubble bursting. Gone were my dreams of early retirement and a personal chef.
In 2004 the Spirit land rover explored Mars with wheels and other key components made by San Luis Obispo’s own NextIntent.
Softec Launched the IMPACT awards program in 2005 recognizing Andrea Seastrand for her contributions to the community and Mark Wright for his work in the technology industry.
Twitter launched in 2006 and by July of that same year it is estimated that AOL shipped 1 billion CDs, but at that time I was too busy anticipating the release of Nintendo’s Wii to notice! As a matter of fact, I was so distracted, I also missed Softec’s first Women in Tech dinner and the launch of CEO Roundtables – thank you Bob Dumouchel.
In 2007 people were leaving MySpace in droves to this new website called FaceBook, Netflix introduced streaming video, and everyone was talking to their friends and colleagues on their motorola flip phone about this amazing new product – the iPhone.
The sound of the bursting housing bubble made all the noise for the next two years until 2010 when Starbucks announced free wifi in all their stores.
By 2011 Android outsells the iPhone and Apple responds by introducing Siri.
2014 is remembered by the ice bucket challenge – any participants in the room? Again, if not, please don’t do it now.
By 2015 – the big local news was the IPO of MindBody and the Shopatron merge to create Kibo
By then Softec has given over $30,000 in grants to local High School robotics
launched our fastest growing interest group ever – Women in Tech
So we are celebrating 20-years of Softec with still much to look forward to in the rest of 2016 and the years to come as we continue to live out Softec’s mission to help align local businesses, individuals and educational resources in our community to produce a thriving hub of innovation on the Central Coast.
Let’s keep the momentum – check out our upcoming events
And finally thank you to our sponsors – your financial support empowers us to give back directly to the community and your involvement with our events has created so many unique experiences for our members – from Open Houses at MindBody and Rosetta – to dinners with great networking and a never-ending variety of interesting topics at TechBrew – we thank you.