”WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?!?”
The question comes from the hallway. Bellowed, rather, in a system administrator’s booming voice. It’s a grey, rainy day outside – typical for Iceland this time of year.
The door slams open, hitting the wall of the office with a loud ‘thud.’ The change in air pressure rustles the folded blue-white cardboard boxes scattered around the office.
The man standing in the doorway is visibly upset, face red and eyes bulging out of their sockets. His gaze wanders around the room, taking in the row of disk drives furiously working, heating up the air around them. A sheet of labels, with the words ‘QuickDNS Pro’ printed on them in a large font, gives in to the notion of displacement and falls to the floor.
A group of young startup founders is huddled around a laptop computer. It’s the 90s, and they have the best equipment. The power cable running across the table and down to an extension cord, a mouse attached to the PS/2 port on the back of the machine, and a thin white cable hanging above the ground and disappearing into the wall. The young men look up at the disturbance, with a puzzled look on their faces.
“You’re shutting everything down!” the system administrator says. His voice is accusing, and his stare is hard with anger.
Recognition dawns on the young men’s faces. They fidget with the mouse, shutting down a program on the screen. It disappears, the colored pixels of a distant human’s face switching off.
Yes, when your entire country accesses the internet through a single connection, perhaps hogging the bandwidth to try out some fancy new video chat software is… ill-advised.
Especially when your business is networking. 😂
Nomen est… omen?
Whenever we go to trade shows, we receive compliments on our name. In a sea of Sys-this and Net-that, Men&Mice stands out. (Then there’s the occasional visitor who thinks we’re an ad agency.) And then the conversation turns to the origins of the name.
You see, the 90s were a different time. Startups weren’t taking random vowels out of random words, and the name didn’t precede the idea. When the founders of Men&Mice were sitting around in the first office registering the company, they had no idea about what to call themselves.
What ended up happening was that they looked around, and noticed that they were men (gender ratio got better with time) sitting around with computers, using mice. (A computer mouse was a fancy new tech back then.)
So there. It’s still helping us stand out, 30 years later.
Men&Mice? Men and Mice? Mice and Men?
But after a while it became clear that many people, when searching for QuickDNS or DNS Expert, typed in “mice and men” to Altavista or Yahoo. (Google didn’t exist yet. We’re that old.) And because the 90s were like the Wild West of the still infant internet, registering the miceandmen.com domain was easy.
Imagine that, not having to NDA your name and its various spellings until you confirmed the TLD orders went through.
If it ain’t broke?
The first product of Men&Mice wasn’t the Men&Mice Suite. It wasn’t even a network-related software. It was a management system for schools, to keep administrative tasks simple and transparent. (The vision of simplicity and transparency hasn’t changed in the three decades since.)
Men&Mice’s first DNS product came later, in 1995: QuickDNS Pro. It was the first DNS server software for the Mac OS. Not MacOS X, but its predecessor. It was a hit, as apparently even though Apple computers were highly popular, using them as DNS servers hasn’t occurred to anyone.
QuickDNS Pro was embraced by the entire world. So much so, in fact, that a Japanese localization had to be made, and disk drives were working overtime to keep up with the demand.
DNS is a technology that changed fairly little in its fundamental operations since its inception. A true testament to that is the fact that even years after Mac OS was discontinued and Men&Mice releasing DNS Expert (a DNS diagnostic software) which later became the Men&Mice Suite, there were still some Mac OS servers in the wild. Running QuickDNS Pro.
Who knows, maybe they’re still out there.
History — we haz it
Men&Mice has been in business for 30 years. That’s a long time. And anyone who’s been around that long has a treasure trove of stories.
2020 is our 30th anniversary, and we decided to celebrate by not only reinventing ourselves but also by looking back. We’re proud of where we came from. And also, these are great stories.