Roben Kleene

Remembering the O'Reilly Mac OS X Innovators Contest

From 2003 to 2004, O’Reilly Media ran the O’Reilly Mac OS X Innovators Contest, sponsored by Apple via the Apple Developer Connection (now just Apple Developer). I still think of these winners as some of the high watermarks of app innovation. Many concepts we take for granted today were either introduced, or popularized, by apps on this list. Here are a few of my favorite examples:

  • NetNewsWire, while not necessarily the first RSS feed reader, was one of the most popular early ones. RSS feed readers are the origin of consuming media through streams of content, now exemplified by Twitter and Facebook’s Newsfeed.
  • SubEthaEdit was one of the earliest practical implementations of multiple simultaneous live document editing, a concept later brought to a much wider audience by Google Docs in 2006.
  • LaunchBar popularized many features we take for granted in search user interfaces today, such as seeing search results live as you type, fuzzy string matching, and combining search results of various types, such as apps, bookmarks, contacts, events, and files all into one unified interface.

I’ve listed the winners below, and linked to all the ones that are still maintained, so you can see visually just how many these apps are still around. All of these apps are over fifteen years old now.

2003 Round One Winners

2003 Second Round Winners

2003 O’Reilly Mac OS X Conference Winners

  • First Place, US Category: OmniOutliner
  • Second Place, US Category: iBlog
  • First Place, International Category: iStopMotion
  • Second Place, International Category: ACSLogo
  • Honorable Mention: F-Script

2004 Winners

  • First Place, U.S.: Delicious Library
  • First Place, International: FotoMagico
  • Second Place, U.S.: Curio
  • Second Place, International: iDive
  • Honorable Mention, U.S.: Nicecast
  • Honorable Mention, International: Process