A brief history of app store concepts

Tedium looked at some “proto app stores” from the 90s and 00s before Apple took hold of the idea and made it what it is today:

How much credit does Apple deserve for introducing the App Store concept to mainstream consumers? I mean, how obvious is the idea, anyway? (We’ll leave the whole 30 percent question for the courts to decide.) This is a question that seems worth asking as modern app development has become so centered around building applications that exist in digital storefronts like Apple’s App Store, the Google Play Store, Steam, and numerous others. I’m just imagining how Apple would have done it otherwise—putting little memory cards into the side of the iPhone, like you still have the option to do on the Switch? For numerous reasons, shrink wrap was going to go the way of the dodo eventually. But what about app stores that existed when the proverbial dodo was still around—why don’t we talk about those for a little while and get an understanding of the broader lessons we can gain from them?

Shout out to Tucows (RIP) for being my favourite and getting a mention in the article:

1993: The year that Tucows, a well-known repository of downloadable software, first went online. The repository was built by Scott Swedorski, a technology enthusiast in Flint, Michigan, who spotted a need for a central resource for basic internet software. Swedorski’s work, while not initially intended to be commercial, proved the basis of a long-running company that came to prove an essential part of the early internet. After all, we needed software to get on the internet, right?

One of my favourite places to download .exe files, games, and whatnot was Home of the Underdogs and it’s still going. Founded in 1998, HotU specialises in freeware, shareware, and abandonware, providing links to any actively published games. Having places like this was like a treasure trove back then. App stores from the likes of Google and Apple don’t hold the same feeling, especially with dodgy apps trying to charge sneaky subscriptions.

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