Anno NTK: get a fifteen-year-old tech newsletter delivered fresh each week

NTK was once the greatest weekly tech newsletter in the universe -- snarky and funny and informative and just great. It's been dead for a good long while now, and this being the fifteenth anniversary of its founding, it's time for a revival. Danny O'Brien, one of the NTK originators, has announced a retro NTK mailing list: "So, for the next ten years or so, if you subscribe to this newsletter, you’ll get a weekly copy of the NTK that came out fifteen years ago, totally unchanged. It’s like that thing where you get a copy of the Times’ front page for your birthday, except every week is your birthday! Or our birthday. Or something. The name, Anno NTK, comes from Simon Wistow. If it was your idea to do this, tell me!"

Give or take a few days, it was fifteen years ago that I hit send on the first official issue of NTK. I was hiding out at a start-up called Virgin Internet, trying to work out how to bring Usenet to the masses, or something. I added people to the mailing list by hand, but stuck “-l” at the end of the subscribe email address to make it sound like it was a proper listserv. I still hear people say “listserv”, occasionally, and it sounds like they’re saying “thee” or “gadzooks” or something.

People usually say at this point that it doesn’t seem like maxint years ago, but, to be honest, it does. It feels exactly fifteen years ago. What’s weird for me is that the three years before NTK came out feels even longer. 1994-1997 involved me going from being on the dole, to appearing in a one man show in the west end, doing TV, working at Wired, joining a startup. That, and the Internet went from being this funny little squeaky gopher thing to having internet addresses on adverts. On adverts! Which, incidentally, we all smugly knew would go away soon, because advertising was lying and the Internet was going to make lying impossible. Or something.

NTK, Fifteen Years On


  1. Considering I subscribed to NTK pretty much right around the last newsletter or so, sounds like the perfect opportunity to catch up on what all I missed. Maybe even fill in those blank years I’d always attributed to alien abduction.

  2. You know you’re getting old when parts of the internet you had forgotten ever existed resurface in pseudo-nostalgic form. Sigh.

  3. Something like this might be cool set up along the lines of one of the realtime history twitter feeds, which give you a perspective on history hard to get in any other way (the realtime WWII feed is particularly good and is currently in 1940). 

    This is a good time for something like this, too – it’d maybe give people perspective on the current tech boom by reminding us of the dotcom boom and subsequent crash.

    I’m not familiar with this newsletter but it sounds like it’d be a good source for that perspective.

    edit: I guess it’s appropriately old-school to just send it out as e-mail again in this case rather than reworking it for twitter :)

  4. Just checked, as far as I know my email account is still subscribed. I wonder if he will start posting the contents to the same mailing list. It was always a good read.

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