A History...

A History of GetRight®
(And a history of other things Michael Burford has done.)

We're about at the 11 year anniversary for the release of GetRight 1.0--it came out in February 1997. I never imagined it would be so popular for so long...and it is still going strong! I thought people would be interested in reading how GetRight was created and how it's grown and other things I've done.

Before GetRight

The early years.
How I got to the point of making GetRight...

My parents bought one of the first computers owned by a family in our town. An Apple ][+ back around 1980 when that was the new, state of the art computer. I was still a kid, but started playing with programming almost immediately.

I wrote a couple simple educational programs, for math and spelling, and even sold a few copies to the local school. (But my paper route made far more money than my software.)

After high school (Ephrata High School), I went to the University of Washington for 2 years, and then transferred to Washington State University where I got a degree in Computer Science.

I worked for one of the big US National Laboratories for quite a few years, but still did a couple projects on the side...

Wanvas came out in 1995.
I worked doing emergency management tools at the National Laboratory, and thought that some way to communicate ideas with others by drawing pictures while talking on the phone would save a lot of time for meetings!

Wanvas was a multi-user network white board, letting several people draw and edit a common image. I always wonder what would have happened if I'd focused on just Text messaging instead of graphics, and had solved some problems helping people connect to each other (you had to know the computer names or IPs)...this was a year or so before ICQ came out!

While it never sold anything as shareware, the whole company was eventually purchased so the white board could be included in an Internet Phone program (which is long gone.)

Donut came out in 1996.
Oh, so close again. I had the idea for some sort of programming you could do with this new World Wide Web. Java & Javascript beat me to the release, but this was still pretty cool.

Donut was my own Visual Basic let you make a program using the regular Visual Basic 3 tools. Then the your small program could be downloaded and run on-the-fly from a webpage. It showed the window (that you designed in Visual Basic) and let you do many of the usual VB commands to process inputs, etc. It was released thru my employer, and a few websites used it for awhile.


GetRight came out in early 1997.
I was trying to download some game demo, the name of which I've long forgotten. I would get 1/2 of the file, then get disconnected and have to restart from scratch. After doing that a couple times I told myself "If I could just be putting these pieces together, I would have had the whole file, and wouldn't be starting from scratch again!" I immediately started programming, and never did finish that download. GetRight 1.0 came out in February 1997.

After a few near misses, something really hit the jackpot. It was obvious pretty soon that GetRight was something that many other people needed too. It was the first program of its type, and there wasn't even a category for "Download Manager" on any of the software sites at the time.

It has grown a LOT in its features and power over the years. The very first version just did HTTP, no FTP; there really wasn't any sort of configuration options other than I think the folder where to save files, and you had to drag-and-drop or paste in a URL to download. The equivalent of the Download Status was just a list in the configuration so you could restart something. But even to this day, the download window really hasn't changed much in the layout from that 1.0 version.

After just a few months, I took a chance and quit my job to work on GetRight full time. There was a real worry back then that Netscape and Internet Explorer would start building in a download manager and I'd be stuck...but fortunately for me, they competed in all the other directions except file downloading.

GetRight grew beyond any of my wildest dreams...back in the modem days, it was a pretty essential tool for anybody who wanted to get a big file. Even with faster connections today, the file sizes have grown too, so it's just as useful (plus now has all the cool features to accelerate and organize and all sorts of things that it lacked in the 1.x version!)

While it's no longer at the very top of the lists at and other websites, it still gets a lot of downloads from users all over the world.

Interesting Facts about GetRight's History.
It was several months after GetRight was first released before the Shareware credit-card processing services really started to appear. Made it much easier than sending a check by mail which was the only way at first!

For awhile there, before the technology bubble burst, the Advertising in software really looked like the way to go. And some 4.x versions of GetRight showed ads if you hadn't purchased. But the possibility of some sort of spying (which was never true for the companies doing the ads) caused a pretty big uproar and launched the whole anti-spyware category of programs. We had put messages in GetRight's installer, with big descriptions that the ads were there, and about how the ads worked. Even the person who started the whole spyware issue said he thought we were doing it correctly. But the whole concept of ads in a program--no matter how it was done--was deemed spyware, and we pulled the ads in the later 4.x versions.

The price has changed from $15 to $17.50 to $20 to $25 to $29.95 over the years.

The ISP I was using that kept disconnecting that gave me the idea for GetRight? They're still the ones hosting this GetRight website!

You can read more about the people who work on GetRight. We all work out of our homes, Peter, Becci and I in Seattle, and Shawn in Los Angeles. (I doubt it is the same in Peter's and Shawn's home offices--my wife wanted to make sure I mention the "clothing optional" policy in ours. The best software is written by someone in their underwear. Microsoft, Google, try it and see!)

The first translation of GetRight was done by someone in China, who used some hacker tools to modify the main program's EXE file to convert to Chinese. I figured if someone would go to all that trouble, I'd make it easy for anybody to translate! I made a system so a language file could be translated and downloaded by anyone who wanted it. A lot of shareware companies have copied that--publishing the info to translate. Several translation services have asked about translating (for a lot of money)...and I've been able to say "No thanks, somebody already did it for free!" GetRight has been translated into dozens of languages over the years.

While I will claim that a lot of the things in GetRight were my idea, a ton of features are all based on user requests and suggestions. So keep the ideas coming! There are still things that I say "Why didn't I think of that a LONG time ago!", like this new popup message in 6.1: Why didn't somebody think of that years ago! It took my wife saying "there has to be an easier way to open that file I just downloaded". It's my new favorite feature in GetRight.

Names and Graphics...
I don't remember all of the names I'd thought of...but I do know that "Getter" was one of the other possible names instead of GetRight. And I think "WinGet" was another.

GetRight's Icons thru the ages...

Washington State, where I live, lets you get a personalized car license plate for about $35. Nice.

Windows and Browsers...
The first versions of GetRight worked on Windows 3.1 in addition to Windows 95. (1.3 was the last version that did work for Windows 3.1.)

Even before GetRight, I mailed a suggestion to Netscape (probably 1.0ish) that the Stop button on the browser should change to Resume for pausing and continuing to load a page. This would have been back when I probably had a 1200 baud modem and just loading a page could take a minute.

Netscape was the first browser to have the features so GetRight could catch and take over downloads. Interestingly, it got taken out when Netscape was rebuilt as Mozilla, and it took quite awhile to figure new ways to do it.

Internet Explorer 4 was the first version that added the features so that GetRight could do the click monitoring. I remember talking to Microsoft quite a few years ago, and they did some things I'd mentioned in IE 6 to make an easy way for Download Managers. There were a few changes needed again for IE 7 when running on Windows Vista, but thanks to some help and early betas from Microsoft (and re-using some of the code from Geek Superhero) it only took a day or so to fix for Vista.

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Other Programs Over the Years

GetRightJ came out in late 1997.
Getting a few requests, and not wanting to miss on the Mac and Linux users, but not wanting to do too many separate versions of GetRight, I made a Java version to get all of them at once. It was named "GetRight for Java" for a time, until Sun sent me letter saying "you can't use Java in a name without our license" which just meant paying for certification testing or something like that and sending them a chunk of money. So I renamed it GetRightJ.

It was quite a bit harder to use, since it couldn't be tied into the browser very well (all cut-and-paste). And honestly, Sun pissed me off a lot. So I really ignored it and worked on the Windows version.

Interestingly, I had set it up to show ads in the download windows in this version (way back in 1997). But there weren't any of the nice ad-broker systems that came later, so that never did anything.

And to keep their stupid lawyers happy. Java™ and all Java-based trademarks and logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the United States and other countries.

AdWiper came out in 1998.
This used a pretty effective system to strip out the ad banners and other ad things as a webpage was displayed in Internet Explorer. The software still works quite well, if you can find it!

We were a little worried that all those ad-supported sites wouldn't like us because of it and might take it out on our other programs (by removing listings for GetRight). So I created a separate company to release it (WebWiper Inc.) Another one where I wonder how it would have done if it had gotten a bit more traction; but a few others did it too. It sold some, but not much. We closed the WebWiper company a few years ago.

ftpRight never came out, but I worked on it in 1998.
Instead of a separate program, it was built into GetRight as the GetRight Browser. Some other pieces like file delete/rename actually waited until GetRight Pro.

The logo that I originally did for ftpRight should look pretty familiar too :)

StartDrive came out in 1999.
A littler one, this let you easily add shortcuts so folders on your hard drive were listed under the Start button in Windows. You could quickly browse down to your commonly used folders to open them.

It is even still available here. It should still work, but I haven't tested with the newer versions of Windows.

Mike's Micro Meter came out in 1999.
A tiny little freebie. It shows some graphs about memory and resources in the tray icons.
Still here, and still works. With XP systems, the graphs for resource don't apply anymore...but the memory one still works.

Lightning Download came out in 2003.
Rather than make a "GetRight Lite", we decided to call it something different. It's a bit more aggressive about accelerating, and simplifies many of the choices and menus. We picked a good, "fast"'s still updated along with GetRight with new features!
Lightning Download.

Geek Superhero / Desktop Armor came out in 2003.
After a Trojan came very close to infecting my computer from a browser security hole, I thought I could do something to help.

Geek Superhero was born, I put in some really nice security checks; it watches important settings on your computer, and monitors all the places a program can set to run itself when Windows starts. Then it simply warns you and asks if you want to keep the new setting or remove it. It has done pretty well, and still protects my own computers.

It was also a place to include some of the useful little tools I'd done for myself over the years, like scanning the hard drive to find where all the space is being used. We eventually made two variations "Geek Superhero" which has a very fun comic book look, and "Desktop Armor" which is the same but with an all-business look. (We did Armor after a couple people said they felt funny asking their boss to buy a copy of "Geek Superhero"!)

The main anti-virus programs have started doing the same. (I really like our messages and text better...Why should I have to scroll down to see what was changed??? Why not put the name in nice bold text on the first screen???) and

GetRight Pro came out in 2006 (but the betas started in 2005).
There have been tons of good ideas and requests for GetRight over the years. GetRight Pro has many of these advanced features people have asked for! Uploading, scripting, viewing/adding downloads to your computer from anywhere, and much more.

A comparison vs GetRight.

GetRight Developer Kit first came out in 1999.
This is an interesting one. The developer kit let you build a small EXE that included the GetRight download technology (3.x-ish version.) When someone ran the small EXE, it would download a much bigger file. Several websites did use this for distributing large files--but it needed some programming knowledge and tools to build. And I hadn't integrated the code well, so it was very difficult to keep up with the GetRight improvements.

It is something that people continued to ask about, and we recently revisited it...
GetRightToGo came out in 2006.
This one does developer kit idea right. It is very flexible and usable--the EXEs it builds can download many files; the graphics, names, and all the options are easy to change in its own builder tool; all the newest GetRight download features are available (and it is easy for me to rebuild for new ones). It is simple for anyone to create the small EXE downloaders without any programming knowledge.

It has gotten some good attention, and hopefully you'll start seeing it around the Internet as you're downloading files! &
FileMirrors started as the website powering the "Mirror Search" features in GetRight in around 2001. A simple web site let you search the mirrors found by GetRight users. It is pretty cool, and we continued to add more search options.

Reading an ASP newsgroup, one of the members had done a "new" software-download website and asked people to test it. Huge ads everywhere, just list after list of dozens of programs, silly categories...but just like all the rest I could find too. I thought, "We could do so much better than that!" I got picture in my head of everything organized into a nice button; keeping it as simple and easy as possible.

We decided to rework the FileMirrors website (since it was past due for some updates). We added a whole database of software to download and combined it with all the mirrors from GetRight.

The navigation button worked great--took a bit of work to get everything categorized; and my brother Peter made it all look and work great. The button we created was labeled "Find Files". My brother checked and saw that was for sale! We talked a lot--we'd never purchased a name from someone else before that cost money, but decided to do it. We got and launched the redesigned site in July 2007.

We have since then redone the navigation for this GetRight website too, using the same "button" navigation.

We resurrected Go!Zilla in early 2008.
Go!Zilla was one of the main competitors for GetRight back in the late 90s.

It had really been ignored over the years; the last new version was 2002. And there had been a variety of adware and bundle things done with it thru several ownership groups. The latest owner closed their business in the summer of 2007, so the gozilla website and product was dead for 6 months until we got it.

But there's still a lot of websites that link to it or mention it. On January 18, we aquired the name/website/rights for Go!Zilla, and relaunched the Go!Zilla program and website just a week later with a brand new, "GetRight" technology based product! There is some more interesting Go!Zilla History here too.

FTP On The Go.
I got a call on my iPhone that I'd mistyped something on a new web page. I hung up the phone and though, if I could fix it on the iPhone, it wouldn't have to wait until I got home.

That started me into iPhone programming. I got my first Apple computer in a couple decades--an Apple IIgs in high school, I skimmed a couple books and sample projects, and got working.

What's Next?

I definitely keep working and improving on GetRight. And I keep thinking of new ideas.

It's totally unrelated to anything GetRight...but I've been spending my evenings and weekends working on a fitness and nutrition website with a partner. I'm building it, he's selling it.

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