Reflections on Our First 25 Years

As we hit the quarter century mark, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on where we've come from, and look towards what lies ahead.

O'Reilly & Associates began as a small band of consultants that produced custom documentation for the tech companies along Massachusetts's Route 128. Fresh out of college, armed with curiosity and solid liberal arts educations, we taught ourselves the art of documentation by working directly with the programmers and system administrators who lived and breathed the technology we were documenting. Through our direct connection to those experts, we learned the mindset and techniques that veteran professionals called on every day to make technology work. And we set out to write documentation that captured their approach. We wanted our work to be as helpful as advice from a master of the technology: conversational, straight-shooting, and grounded in experience.

O'Reilly's 25th Anniversary Time Line: Follow us through history.

Twenty-five years later, we're still learning from the alpha geeks and figuring out how to bring their ideas and insights to a wider community. In fact, that's our corporate mission. In the book Built to Last, the authors said that great companies have "big hairy audacious goals." After reading that, I wrote mine down as follows:

To change the world by capturing and transmitting the knowledge of innovators.

Audacious, indeed. But the desire to reach that goal keeps us out there on the front lines of technology, searching for the next world-changing tool or idea.

Although our editors, authors, and internal hackers are deeply involved with an array of interesting projects, as often as not it's you, our customers, who tell us what's cool and who to watch. You send us thousands of email messages a year, saying, "Have you looked at this? Do you know about that?" Your questions and suggestions keep us on track.

So thanks for your support, ideas, and even criticism. I can't say anything more true than this: we couldn't have done it without you. I feel quite lucky to have spent the last quarter century immersed in discovering and sharing knowledge. It's been a great adventure, and I firmly believe the best is yet to come. Here's hoping the next twenty-five years bring us all interesting challenges and continued success.

--Tim O'Reilly