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since 1997"
Lyle Zapato

A Decade Of ZPi

Lyle Zapato | 2007-01-05.2610 LMT | Announcement | Site

2007 marks the 10th anniversary of the ZPi website. That's right, we've been serving the paranoid for a decade!

This site first appeared on the World Wide Web sometime in the year 1997. I've unfortunately forgotten the exact date, although it was actually later in the year. For the sake of convenience (and to dilute the overwhelming momentousness of the occasion by spreading it out over 12 months) we'll just call all of 2007 The Anniversary.

A brief history of the site, particularly points not recorded elsewhere, is in order:

ZPi itself originated in 1995 with the release of MindGuard for the Amiga. During that time I wasn't yet on the Internet, choosing instead to spread paranoia via various Cascadian BBSs -- then the most paranoid form of communication next to CB radio.

I also went through a number of organizational names, including "Lyle Zapato Product Development International", "Zapato Development And Haberdashery", and "Deborah".

MindGuard was but one of a number of products I was working on at the time. For your historical amusement, here's a combined list (from lists originally posted on a BBS, recently dug up off of an old 3½" floppy) of some products in development from late 1995 to early 1996, none of which, for various reasons, saw the light of day:


  - MrGene: [An interface program for the Kortech P350 & P700 Personal DNA Sequencers] Still in development stages. I'm sorry for how long it is taking to bring this product to release, but you have to understand, every time I test the damn thing I need to put on a hazmat suit as the bugs in it keep causing unknown strains of botulism and e-coli. I think this is being caused by an integer to pointer conversion error but I can't track it down. Until I get this problem fixed, it would be unethical (and most likely litigable,) for me to release MrGene.


  - Whirling Dervish Whirl-O-Meter: Allows you to keep track of how many times you whirl around as well as average whirl speed. Stylish and comfortable device fits around your waist and uses proven inferred technology found in many household electronics. Deluxe model will come with a Whirl Calculator that can be used to find your optimal whirling speed for trance initiation.


  - Tapes in Book: With the popularity of books on tape, I've decided to explore the possibilities of related markets, namely the converting of tapes to books. The first tape that will be converted into convenient book form will be "Sounds of the Rainforest", a lovely tape that features high-quality true-stereo recordings of an Amazonian rainforest. The book form will feature accurate descriptions of every bird call, monkey howl, and rain drop and will be written by a real paid writer. I am also considering a book on tape version of the tape in book version of "Sounds of the Rainforest" that will feature James Earl Jones reading the descriptions of the rainforest sounds. This may be joined later by a video of James Earl Jones reading the descriptions of rainforest sounds in an actual rainforest. I may then tie the whole thing together by releasing a Video in Book version of the video that will feature accurate descriptions of James Earl Jones reading the tape in book version of the "Sounds of the Rainforest" in a rainforest, and will come with a CD-ROM that shows the making of all the books, tapes, and videos aforementioned and also includes a MPEG video of the making of the CD-ROM itself, the Video in Book description of which will be in the last chapter of the book.


  - Cap'n Chuck's Briny Breakfast Bits: "The first presalted kid's breakfast cereal. Mouth puckering puffed wheat in four colorful maritime shapes: Scary Shark, Abyssal Anchor, Silly Sea Anemone, & Gastropodious Geoduck. Vitamin C enriched for extra scurvy protection." Kelloggs and General Mills haven't returned any of my calls.

Realizing my product line was lacking focus, I changed my organizational name one last time to "Zapato Productions intradimensional" ("ZPi" for short) and narrowed the focus to within the dimension of paranoia. Note that I was using a lower-case "i" -- next to an upper-case "P", no less! -- a full four years (and change) before Apple made it fashionable with trendy hipster wannabes. I feel like Xerox PARC!

When I eventually attacked the Internet, the first beachhead I established was an official homepage for MindGuard, offering a basic pitch and free download -- a rudimentary, one-page site with a tacky design that quickly went offline as I planned a more extensive ZPi Internet presence.

Ye Olde Logoe
One of the original ZPi logos. Beware its psioptic blinking.

That presence arrived in late 1997 and was hosted on Tripod (chosen because it was at the time less obnoxious than Geocities). My Tripod member name, and consequently part of the URL, was "zoam", which I had been using as an email name for a while, for reasons that escape me. (For you ZPi completists, visit zoam.tripod.com and see a page from 2000 redirecting people to the then-new site.)

The very first version of the site has been lost, but I know it included MindGuard, information about the AFDB (which was originally contained within the MindGuard documentation), and the Truth about Belgium. By 1998, the site included a large percentage of what it does today (which you can either take as my being forward thinking or lazy since then), as can be seen in this cached version from December 2, 1998 (the oldest version the Internet Archive has).

In May of 2000, ZPi moved from the advert-laden, PHPless servers of Tripod to space generously donated by Alan Clegg. This move necessitated a proper domain name: zapatopi.net, chosen mainly because "zpi" was already taken for all TLDs.

Forced by this lack of available three-letter URLs to expand the first word of the abbreviation (the alternatives -- "zproductionsi", "zpintradimensional", "zapato­productions­intradimensional", etc. -- deemed too long and/or ugly), serendipity struck and a new logo/mascot/unifying-motif was backformed: "Zapato" + "Octopi" = "Zapatopi", an octopus wearing shoes.

Brushed metal?
One of the first Zapatopi logos used in the site masthead.

This tied in nicely with my work protecting the endangered Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus, plus it put me in the vanguard of the current popularity of cephalopodan themes at a time when everything hip was penguins (Hollywood, with its turning radius of a diplodocus, can only play catch-up).

Of course, this URL did have some downsides: people kept mispronouncing it "zap-uh-toe-pee" or thinking my name was "Mr. Zapatopi", but I was willing to live with these minor annoyances.

Over the years there have been many changes and developments: the addition of a blog in 2004; the publishing of the AFDB book in 2002; the off-handed introduction of the Dactyl Fractal, which now consumes most of the site's bandwidth in an ever-spiraling bid for total memetic hegemony. But, through it all, the paranoia remained constant. Maybe a little too constant. Suspiciously constant...

I would like to thank all the people who contributed to -- or conspired on -- this site: Alan; "Commando" from the BBS days; the many people who've sent in things that I have posted, freeing me from having to create original content myself; guestbook signers; everyone who bought the AFDB book (all seven of you); people who've emailed me but whom I haven't gotten around to responding to yet, only it's been so long now that it'd be too awkward to write back, so their emails just sit in my inbox, judging me; and anyone else I forgot.

Having been around for a decade, the site, especially those parts in which my interest has waned, has accumulated some cruft: archaic web design, outdated references, dead links. There were also things that I planned on doing or adding but never finished. Over the coming year I'll try to revisit all areas of the site and either update or, in some cases, rewrite them. Hopefully this renovation will enable the site live for another 10 years -- or at least until the world as we know it ends on December 21, 2012 with the return of the periodical Quetzalcoatlus armada.

Until then, trust no one (except ZPi).

End of post.