ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Hey There, Jack! —

I drove 400 miles to interview Jack Rickard for my documentary, and I’d have done twice that.


Jack was the publisher of Boardwatch magazine, for years the bible of bulletin board system sysops and the central watering hole of information and updates of interest to both BBSes and people starting to consider themselves ISPs. I thought his part in things was important enough to both dedicate a portion of one of the episodes, Make It Pay, to his personality and influence, with many people jumping in to discuss him. There were other BBS and ISP-related magazines out there, and there was more than enough punditry, but somehow Jack was of an entirely different character. You just trusted the guy, or hated him, or disagreed with, or respected him. He just got that kind of a reaction from you.

His down-home style contrasted with his steady eye about technical matters, and his magazine was filled with more words by himself than anybody else – he always answered letters in the letters column, and might make a full-page answer to a 2-3 paragraph letter. Like I said, you just kind of had to experience the guy.

Jack sold Boardwatch for a lot of money, money that made him a multi-millionaire, if the reports are to be believed (and there’s no reason not to). And like a lot of guys who’ve gone off and made their fortunes, he dropped out of sight for many people who used to see and hear a lot of him. For most of his audience and fans and detractors, it’s probably been over a decade since they heard that accent, that outlook, that easy way of explaining technical issues with just the right amount of sass and straight-talking that made him so well-known in the first place.

Well, you’re in luck.

I happened to stumble on Jack’s YouTube channel. Of course Jack would have a YouTube channel – what the hell were we all thinking.

In this channel, it’s mostly about electric-powered vehicles. Of course Jack would be poking around cutting-edge technology. Only this time, he drives it around. And instead of publishing a magazine, he videotapes information about it.

I’m sure there’s a chance he’s selling something here. I didn’t check that hard. But for free, you can hear that voice again, see Jack alive and happy and well, and telling you about something neat he’s found and what he’s learned. And who the hell could argue with that?

Welcome back, Jack.

Categorised as: computer history | documentary

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One Comment

  1. Clay says:

    Yay! I’ve periodically searched for “Jack Rickard” in the hopes of finding something new from him — I grew up reading Boardwatch, and loved reading his various comments, even when they’re the sort of thing that turned out to be wrong.

    So, while I doubt that this will answer my question of, “What would Jack Rickard think about…” when thinking about any random technology issue, it’s nice to see that he has an internet presence of some sort.