Retrospect history

I remember when Dantz Development first released Retrospect; I never used it myself as I stayed with their earlier product. Wasn’t it first called “Retrospective”?

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As far as I’m aware, it has always been Retrospect since it was introduced in 1989.

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I saw that article, Adam. My search could not find any info on Dantz Development more than 20 years ago; I had a really vague memory on some software called “Retrospective” and I probably confused the two. I can’t remember the name of Dantz’s other backup software but I may still have it buried in a box from my last move. I remember using Floptical & ZIP disks for backing up with it. I went from it to Carbon Copy Cloner, IIRC.

Our current search engine is a little too excitable about relevancy, so it can be tricky to do a pure chronological search, but I’m seeing coverage of Retrospect as early as February 1991.


From the Retrospect web site:

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IIRC, DiskFit was their floppy-only backup tool using technology which later was incorporated into Retrospect. For a while it was only bundled with SuperMac DataFrame hard drives.

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This Macworld article has more on Dantz and Retrospect history.


That’s it: DiskFit! I used that on 1.4MB floppies, then on 21MB Flopticals, and last on 100MB Zip Disks. I still have the Zip Drive somewhere and maybe even the Floptical Drive.

Now if I could just figure out why I confused Retrospect software with Retrospective. Of course it doesn’t surprise me at my age!

Thanks for sharing. Jogged my memory. Who could believe one could have fond memories of a backup solution? I worked with that version on my first mac based job at a commercial printer.


I do NOT have fond memories of flipping dozens of floppies to do a backup with Retrospect. And sometimes toward the end of the backup it would ask for one or more over again. What a tedious waste of time.

That is why I switched first to the 21MB Floptical disks (1 equaled 15 floppies) and then later to the Zip disks (1 equalled about 70 floppies) when I used DiskFit.

We had a tape based solution, it matched our needs at that time quite good as far as I remember.

I got Retrospect version 5 years ago in order to support backup to tape. Initially to 4GB Travan TR4 tapes. And later on to support 33GB VXA tapes.

Later on, when my hard drives got too big to back up everything to a small number of tapes, I switched to HDD backups, but kept using Retrospect.

I only stopped when I upgraded my Mac to a mini server. The desktop/consumer version refuses to run on a Mac if is installed - they make you buy the server edition which is much much more expensive, even though it is still just backing up a single computer from one locally-attached drive to another locally-attached drive.

So I abandoned Retrospect at that point. For a while, I just used Time Machine and burned DVDs for archival backups of my documents. Until I got CCC, which is what I use today.

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I used Retrospect for many years backing up both OS X and Windows systems on my local networks. I, too, migrated from tape cassettes to hard drives for backup media. Retrospect covered over many mistakes and hardware failures.

When I wanted to run apps for my own local use, such as a DNS server, I discovered the price penalty keyed off the presence of a server file. There was no difference in the apps normally used and no server business existed. That began my exit from Retrospect and began my SuperDuper! and Carbon Copy Cloner era. I’m still disappointed in Dantz.

Wow, the Talk on that wiki page… Throwback, I was there from 1992 - 1999, Tech Support Manager from 1995 - 1999. It was a lot of fun up until about then. I enjoyed supporting a product (two, with DiskFit Pro) that was built so well and that involved so many aspects of the hardware and OS. In the early years, during Retrospect 1.0, NASA wrote on a feedback card something like, “We find your program difficult to use and we’re rocket scientists.” I liked 1.0’s layout, but I was in the minority, and 2.0 was the necessary interface jump. The 1990s were a truly fun time to be in software dev.


The OS7/8/9 versions of Retrospect were fantastic. We also had tape drives but I’m pretty sure we also backed up to other hard drives.

The OSX version never came close to being as intuitive and functional. It was such a shame - a great product totally blundered.

Holy tripe! I was just Googling about to see if Retrospect added anything for me (Arq, Time Machine, handy with the CLI) and found this recent thread. This community is awesome!

From what I’m reading so far, it does seem that Retrospect and apps like it are increasingly in a rarified niche of client-server backup programs that use specialised backup set formats. Is this about right? Anything to a “prosumer” individual, given the costs, and especially for a “server” SKU that I would have to buy (legally, if not technically) to back up the Mac Mini server?

Joanne, I LOVED DiskFitPro! Thank you for it.

Dennis B. Swaney

Cogito Ergo Mac

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@jkalogeras I had the pleasure of visiting with various people in your offices over the years-1993 when you were on Shattuck in Berkeley and 1996 & 1998 in Walnut Creek.

I had the pleasure of working with so many great people at Dantz over the years: Caroline, Eric, Pat, Walt, Craig, Robin are the names that bubble up to the top of the list at the moment, but whomever I worked with for any given project was always first-rate.

And the various Macworld booths in Boston, New York & San Francisco, which is where I got a chance to meet the faces behind the names in the About Box.