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"Why does FIGlet exist?" a history of FIGlet

"Why does FIGlet exist" was written by Glenn in 1995.

In Spring 1991, inspired by the e-mail signature of Frank Sheeran and goaded on by my good friend Ian Chai, I (Glenn Chappell) wrote a nifty little 170-line ``C'' program I called ``newban''. In hindsight, we now call it ``FIGlet 1.0'', and in various incarnations it circulated around the net for a couple of years. It had one font, which included only lower-case letters.

In early 1993, Ian decided newban was due for a few changes, so we added the full ASCII set, to start with. First, though, Ian had to find me a copy of the source, since I had tossed it away as not worth the disk space. We discussed what could be done with it, decided on a general re-write, and, 7 months later, ended up with 888 lines of code, 13 fonts and documentation. This was FIGlet 2.0, the first real release.

To my great surprise, figlet seems to have taken the net by storm. We receive ``FIGlet is great!'' messages all the time (thanx, everyone!) and a new contributed font about once a week. To handle all the traffic, Ian quickly set up a mailing list, Daniel Simmons kindly offered us space for an FTP site, several people volunteered to port figlet to non-Unix operating systems, ... and bug reports poured in.

Because of these, and the need to make figlet more ``international'', we released a new version of figlet that could handle non-ASCII character sets and right-to-left printing. This was FIGlet 2.1, which, in a couple of weeks, became FIGlet 2.1.1. This last weighed in at 1314 lines, and we had over 60 fonts. (And as of this writing, we have 142.)

[Editor's note: Three years later, in July 2005 FIGlet 2.2.2 was released under a new License (the ``Academic Free License 2.1''). This version has proved to be very stable, and persisted for more five years until minor bugfixes and another license change resulted in the release of FIGlet 2.2.3 in January 2011. All license concerns involving contributed code were solved and figlet is now distributed under the ``New BSD License''. Contributed fonts amounted to more than 400]

... and that's about it for now.



For the past few years up to July 2002 the FIGcommunity was looked after by Ian who updated the official resources and kept us all informed of what was going on.

On Friday 5 July 2002 Ian wrote to the FIGcommuinity:

To: figlet, figletfonts, figletsoftware
From: Ian Chai
Date: Fri, 5 Jul 2002 07:43:02 +0800

Dear FIGlites,

Since I started working full-time at MMU http://www.mmu.edu.my 3
years ago I have not had time to really keep up with administration
of FIGlet and so many things have fallen through the cracks.

Christiaan Keet has graciously agreed to take over
the administration of the FIGcommunity. He has even registered a new
domain name http://www.figlet.org which already hosts the website and
ftp site, and will also eventually host the mailing lists.

God bless,
Ian



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