As a computer science major (State University of New York at Potsdam) in 1987, Thornsoft founder Chris Thornton had an opportunity to sit down at a Macintosh II for the first time. He had heard Mac proponents bragging about something called "cut and paste", and wanted to see for himself. Intuitively, Chris thought that he ought to be able to paste anything that he had previously copied. But there didn't seem to be any way to do that. So he asked his girlfriend Brenda (also a Comp Sci major), who thought that surely there must be a way, and she checked with the professor. None of us could figure it out! Well it turns out, the Mac clipboard could hold only one item at a time. We were disappointed.
In 1989, Chris tried Windows 3.0, which also had cut 'n' paste. Still, the clipboard was limited to one item. As a mainframe programmer at a large corporation, Chris was concerned about the future need for mainframe programmers, and decided to pursue his interest in PC programming, and convinced his new wife Brenda (see above) that they should sell their Mac that she won as a door prize, buy a PC from Gateway 2000, and they could "get rich writing and selling video games". Brenda reluctantly agreed. She really liked that Mac!
While vacationing in the green mountains of Vermont, Chris was reading the Windows 3.0 API reference (don't we all?) and found some clipboard routines that would, in theory, allow a program to be notified of clipboard updates. Two days after arriving home, Chris had a working prototype of the world's first "clipboard extender" for Windows. Finally, the clipboard worked the way it should. Two months later, in December 1991, ClipMate 1.0 was uploaded to CompuServe.
Giving away a trial version in hopes that the user would send a check, didn't seem like a very wise idea to Brenda, who had a background in PC desktop support. She bet Chris that he'd be lucky to sell $100 worth of ClipMate in a year. The bet was then revised to be $100/month, (ok, she won the first month) but by March '92, the bet was determined to have been "100 copies in a year". Didn't matter, she lost the bet.
For the record, Edward Folger of Vancouver BC, was the first to send us a check.
ClipMate provided a nice "sideline" income for several years, eventually allowing both Brenda and Chris to transition away from their "day jobs". First part time, and then completely. Today, we're a full-time software company with tens of thousands of users worldwide. We're right in that "sweet spot" where we are doing well, but aren't so big that we can't answer our own phone and e-mail.
ClipMate has won the Shareware Industry Award for "best utility" 4 times, and has been featured in dozens of computer magazines, books, and newspaper articles. Chris has served on the board of directors of the Association of Shareware Professionals, and in July 2004, with Brenda and daughter Carolyn watching, Chris was inducted into the Shareware hall of fame, for contributions to the industry. Even with all of this, Chris and Brenda usually are able to venture out into the community (suburb of Rochester, NY, USA) without being "spotted". Chris is occasionally mistaken for "the Winzip guy", as most of his "casual Monday" through "casual Friday" wear features WinZip T-Shirts.
We're thankful to our users for supporting our efforts to bring you great software. And Chris is additionally thankful for Brenda, who keeps the business running, and has always been supportive.