A Brief History of TC and EB
Preface by TC
Darcy (EB) wrote this little story eleven years ago, way back in 2008. Things have changed so much over these past eleven years — but the history is still the same. We hope you all enjoy this little trip back in time to the very beginnings of Cloudeight when EB (Darcy) and I first met. (TC 8/15/2019)
We have had many ask the story about how TC and I met and how we developed Cloudeight… so the story begins…
It all started in a land far, far away. well, actually it started in Michigan when I met my friends Orca and Ldy on the old IRC (Internet Relay Chat) Michigan Chat lines. We had a regular room we used to talk in and some time in 1996 TC came snooping around one day.. even though he was not from Michigan! It made him stand out, so naturally, I began chatting to him. He was making a web page and was a newbie, so I took him under my wing, shared all my store of knowledge from the two months I had accumulated, and taught him how to put some images on a page. We started emailing and chatting about new things we were learning, and found that each other were eager to learn all we could! Wow.. a cyber match made in heaven!
OK… on with the story.
One day I was searching the web for something new I had just learned about something called “scripts”. I set out to learn them inside out. I was playing around with one of these scripts and it made my picture appear to be scrolling. Wow! Something really cool! I sent it in an email to TC and asked him if he could “see” anything. I was not sure if others could see the scrolling or only I could see it.
He was as excited as I was.. instead of just answering me to say yes or no, I had to wait all day and my answer finally came. He had created a nice graphic of his own (using skills he had obtained from the one and only… !) and had it scrolling away! We couldn’t believe something like this could be done on the computer, much less in an email! We gotta tell our friends about this.. and off we went, emailing our friends with our discovery.
We found our friends were just as excited about our discovery, and soon they were asking how to do this. We tried to explain, but it seemed so complicated, especially for those that didn’t understand scripting or those that did not work in PSP/Photoshop, so we “made” stationery for them and send it to them in email. They would in turn click reply, remove all the text, change who they were sending to, and were sending their “own” stationery. It was a roundabout way of doing things, but it worked, so our circle of friends were having fun along with us now!
Soon, the requests got overwhelming… just couldn’t find the time to send to everyone! So, TC and I decided to make a website page for our friends to download the stationery we had made. We created it from any pictures we thought were nice and soon we had 10 or 15 people a day coming to our new website. We were ecstatic when it hit 20! Twenty people in one day! We couldn’t believe all the traffic!
When we weren’t chatting, we were creating! We would spend days on a single stationery, sometimes editing an image one pixel at a time to get it to tile perfectly. I remember letting “the little things” go, like the dishes and the laundry so I could create. We put our hearts into every creation, couldn’t wait to show each other, and up on the web it would go. Lucky for us, TC had his very own domain… it was empty and unused, so we had a great place to put our stationery site. Cloudeight had not yet been born.. but soon would be and its home would be http://thundercloud.net
Our next step was to come up with a name for our site. We pondered on this for days, tossed names back and forth, but nothing sounded “right”, until one day we mentioned something about being on cloudnine and how nice it was.. and it hit me… let’s combine our names.. (or part of our names!) and call our site Cloudeight! A step back from “being on cloudnine” but better than cloudseven and certainly better than being on the ground. And finally we had a name that clicked and after all these years we are still known as Cloudeight. This explains why Cloudeight has its home on thundercloud.net!
Jump ahead to today, we have a mailing list for our stationery and tech news with over 200,000 members, and while we have created many new sites and products since then, our stationery site remains our biggest site with nearly 10,000 visitors every day and more than double that amount during holidays and winter season.
An afterword by TC
It is hard to believe it’s been almost eleven years since EB wrote that little piece. Little did we know in 2008 that one year later we would find our dream shattered by Windows 7. Windows 7 brought an end to Outlook Express and its sister Windows Mail. Our stationery, designed for these two great email programs, was about to become unusable by users of Windows 7.
Microsoft decided not to include an email client in Windows 7 and offered Windows Live Mail (part of Windows Live Essentials) as an alternative. But Windows Live Mail was a resource-hungry, flaky program, noted for being very buggy. We tried desperately to find a way to make stationery for Windows Live Mail — and Thunderbird — but it just wasn’t the same. Both clients allowed little more than backgrounds in email — and that’s not stationery, at least not in our view. But we did keep making some stationery – but, alas, it was never the same as the good old days.
Our mailing lists – once over 200,000 gradually shrunk as Windows 7 users increased and our stationery, once the lifeblood of our business, just about faded away.
In 2011 we started our Cloudeight Direct Computer Care service (Darcy’s idea) and it kept us going. But Cloudeight Direct takes a lot of our time because we are the kind of people who always want to do the best we can for everyone. To this day, we try to treat each computer we work on as if it were our own — and sometimes we are too fussy and take longer than we should with each customer — and we would not have it any other way.
To say the problems we’ve had in the last eleven years hasn’t affected our partnership and our friendship would be untrue. It has put a tremendous strain on us both. I tend to be hot-headed and gruff and Darcy is always the diplomat. So, I guess I’ve made it harder on her that it should have been — Heaven knows it’s been tough enough. So I apologize to her for that. And, I will say, that over the past couple of years, I’ve grown kinder and more patient, and it makes life easier for both of us.
It’s no secret that over these last eleven years, we have struggled financially. We’ve both taken huge pay cuts to keep things going.
But you know, there is one thing, more than any other, which has gotten us through the thundering rapids of decline. YOU! Those of you who have helped us with a donation or purchased one of the products we sell or those of you who have used our Cloudeight Direct Computer Care services are the reason we’re still here.
Without your support and your help, Cloudeight would have fallen into the sad, growing sea of dead web sites. Web sites long ago abandoned and forgotten.
And we would have had left would have been good memories — because “what’s too painful to remember, we simply choose to forget…”
A big THANK YOU to every single one of you. You’re the reason we are still here.