Four Mac Apps That Have Stood the Test of Time

(Josh Centers) #1

Originally published at:

Glenn Fleishman profiles four independent Mac apps that have survived for over 25 years: BBEdit, PCalc, Fetch, and GraphicConverter.

(Peter Flint) #2

It’s not as widely used as the four mentioned here, but Provue’s Panorama certainly deserves an honorable mention. Panorama itself dates back to the 1990s and precursor programs to the 1980s. Plus it’s been continuously developed, never sold off, and has a pretty devoted following.

(Adam Engst) #3

Panorama X is indeed great—see our review:

I think PopChar X was first released in 1987, and Default Folder X in 1988. What else?

(mpainesyd) #4

From first owning a Mac 2003 I have used GraphicConverter nearly every day. Thorsten Has been great answering questions and agreeing to develo new features.

(fahirsch) #5

Vuescan is another software that has been around a long time, predating OS X

(James Matthews) #6

To clarify a bit, I’m not planning any major Fetch releases other than an update to 64-bits – which is major in terms of the effort required, but won’t have any new features other than the ability to run in 64 bit mode. It’s still accurate to say that Fetch’s future is in doubt, though, because I can’t promise I’ll manage to ship the 64-bit update. I’m hopeful, and making a bit of progress every day, but there is a lot to do.

(Tommy Weir) #7

I use Nisus Writer Pro as my main word processor. First produced in 1989, recently had another major version update. I always enjoy their email newsletters, rocking things old school.

(Paul Chernoff) #8

I took the hint from the article about easter eggs in BBEdit and scrolled down the about BBEdit box.

OMG, I am listed as an unindicted co-conspirator. I assume this is a tweet I made about how BBedit is an invaluable part of my toolbox.

(Adam Engst) #9

Make sure to get all the way to the bottom of the BBEdit About box and play the song!

(Alan Forkosh) #10


You don’t show up on my copy, but I do. I’d be curious what happens if you run an unlicensed copy.

Alan Forkosh Oakland, CA
[email protected]

(Curtis Wilcox) #11

I thought “Unindicted co-conspirators” section pulled your name from your license but it’s actually the macOS user name of the account running BBEdit.

(Paul Chernoff) #12

Yes, I got the correction from Bare Bones. You got it right. I saw my name where it places the long name of the account.

My dreams are dashed. I will now crawl under my covers.

(Diane D) #13

I am listed too! I don’t tweet but I’ve been using BBEdit for, well, forever!

Made my day :slight_smile:

Diane aka Diane D

(Diane D) #14

Oh damn, you ruined it. :stuck_out_tongue:

My computer name is Diane D

But the copy came up unregistered

Oh well



(Enrico Franconi) #15

OMG, I’m also listed as an unindicted co-conspirator. I can’t remember why… maybe from my emacs/latex oooold days…


(Enrico Franconi) #16

ooops, now I see :slight_smile:

(gib) #17

How about 35 years? R.I.P. MacDraw, MacPaint, MacProject, and MacWrite; R.I.P. HabaDex, HabaWrite, and Micro$loth Multiplan. But Helix is still cooking! Helix is a quintessentially Mac relational database development system (“Rapid Application Development Environment” in 21st-century-speak). It was sold as “the database for the rest of us,” and lauded by Guy Kawasaki (remember him?). It gives “object-oriented programming” a whole new meaning, using literal objects (“tiles”) to accomplish its programming magic by sliding them around until they do what you want them to do. Apparently because of some bad blood between its original publisher and Steve Jobs, Apple never give it the prominence it richly deserved.

Along with my Macintosh 128K, I purchased my copy in February, 1984. I opened my business with its client-server version in 1987; I sold the business in 2014, but my original programming, much updated over the years, is still in use today. I use Helix’s direct descendent, maintained and updated by its most recent developer, QSA Toolworks ( It has had its ups and downs, changing hands among at least 4 different publishers (3 of which are out of business), but it has not only survived, it’s flourishing, running on current hardware and software and planning for the future.

What’s more, one of its original programmers still works on it. Now THAT is longevity. Too bad it’s such a secret.

(mpainesyd) #18

Thanks for that info about Helix - it is indeed a secret and I will look to it.

My relational database programming started with DOS Open Access by SPI in the early 1980s. It had SQL and a superb high level programming language but, of course, all the limitations of DOS. I have managed to keep it going through DOS emulators in Windows (95 to 10 + Parallels for macOS) and, better still, DOSbox for Mac:
I still use some of the apps that I created (before they were called apps)
I have documented my frustrations with Microsoft Access here:
I now regularly use Filemaker but wish I had the tools of Open Access.