Cris Mooney
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The opinions expressed here are my own, and do not reflect those of Jump Development Group, nor its employees.

Last Updated Sept 15, 1996

RAM Charger History

(This page is a continuation of the main page that got too large, and would not work properly on the world wide web. This web page is directed at readers who like details, and truth. Should you prefer the standard marketing approach, please refer to the latest RAM Charger advertisements in magazines.)

The Long Story

First, there was MaxiMem...

Robert Thornton set out on his own to create a Mac product back around 1988. His first fruit was a utility called Jump Open, which was never marketed as a product. However, while developing Jump Open, he overcame some Mac obstacles which led him to start building MaxiMem in 1990. MaxiMem would be released as OptiMem (after rejecting the name RAM Doubler, and a slew of other such names), late in 1993.

Late in 1992, I joined Robert to help develop this unique product. OptiMem was a product that created a new Macintosh software category, and I expected the traditional rags to riches story to pay off Robert's five years work. Everyone would take advantage of this new functionality. After all, it should be part of the Mac OS. Who would have known we would spawn a new category of software that would get some companies rich, yet ignore our unique offering?

Development of OptiMem was difficult. Multitudes of undocumented procedures, non-standard methods, and latent bugs in applications and the Mac OS is why it took so long to complete. Though this assured that we would not have any competition, it had drawbacks. It meant that Apple was not interested in licensing, or bundling, OptiMem for Mac OS. It also meant we had to test with a broad base of applications. To address this second drawback, we sent out beta releases to many companies to get feedback on compatibility.

...Which Shipped As OptiMem

It all started to pay off late in 1993 when we shipped the first release as OptiMem. Sales started upwards. As predicted, our startup company would be able to market this product on our own, since it was unique. Revenue would fund continued development and advertising, reviewers would inform the public, resellers would want it on their shelf, and authors of conflicting applications would fix bugs and non-standard procedures to become compatible with the new "must have" utility. The Mac would become a better platform, and Jump Development Group would be able to provide more enhancements.

Then there was RAM Doubler...

Just after OptiMem shipped, we discovered what turned out to be bad news. Jorg Brown, whom had evaluated a beta copy of MaxiMem in early 1993 at Now Software, had jumped companies to Connectix to crank out RAM Doubler, which would ship early in 1994. We knew that his product could not be anything like OptiMem, which was too complex to develop so quickly.

RAM Doubler turned out to be a functional replacement for Apple Virtual Memory, which substituted swapping to compressed RAM buffers in place of swapping to the disk. They were able to create RAM Doubler so quickly because it was a much simpler project than RAM Charger, and Connectix already had a virtual memory manager code base to which they just needed to add compression.

We applauded RAM Doubler as a great addition to the Mac user's arsenal. Apple's Virtual Memory is horrible, and a replacement was definitely needed. Moreover, RAM Doubler had nothing in common with OptiMem thus it should not have been competition for RAM Charger. However, we were concerned that non-technical users might not recognize the differences between the products. We immediately approached Connectix to suggest we combine our efforts in some way - through bundling and/or informative advertising. We felt this would help both our companies, while helping users understand the unique value of each product.

Connectix flipped us the bird. Unnecessary problems began.

...Which Was Strongly Marketed...

Connectix had the marketing muscle, and they presented a simple sales pitch. Simple to market, simple to explain. The one potential marketing drawback, that RAM Doubler is virtual memory, which has a bad reputation, was carefully avoided. Once they shipped, they were immediately on the shelf, and moved to the top. They got frequent, superficial, reviews - invaluable advertising. The natural feeding frenzy that seems to be the nature of journalism, simply acted to snowball the phenomenon. Both products might have been there, but most distributors & reviewers did not care to evaluate the details.

Connectix leveraged their position by intentionally, and successfully, misleading the public. Instead of focusing on their exclusive virtual memory benefits, they made claims that RAM Doubler duplicated OptiMem functionality. No matter what clever terms they invented, or outright lies about functionality they claim, RAM Doubler 1 and 2 are virtual memory, nothing more.

I have no evidence why Connectix felt, and continues to feel, the need to artificially present RAM Doubler in competition to OptiMem [RAM Charger]. The products are very different, and it would be better for all concerned if they would acknowledge this. I doubt that RAM Doubler sales would have been hurt had they presented their product as what it really is, and they would have been able to be honest in their marketing. Certainly, I am not aware of any event that could have spawned this apparent personal vendetta. It is very strange, especially considering that Jorg got the idea for RAM Doubler after seeing OptiMem.

At any rate, RAM Doubler sales took off, while OptiMem sales correspondingly stopped rising. As feared, Macintosh users did not understand the fundamentals of either product. Yet we were poorly positioned for this assault, and we were unable to get the word out. The difference between the products was important to users, yet technical enough that it was not clear without explanation. Unfortunately, without the income from sales, we were unable to advertise in a significant way.

...And Blessed With Non-Critical Endorsment

Journalists did not offer much help. At a time when we needed every bit of help to inform users about how much our product could help them, almost all evaluations skipped OptiMem and/or missed the important issues. Most often, OptiMem was simply ignored, while RAM Doubler was touted, its misrepresentations reiterated.

RAM Doubler's only functionality was not benchmarked. RAM Doubler offers *nothing* over Apple's Virtual Memory, other than speed increase (a point never discussed in reviews). Yet, I have not seen any statistics that quantify RAM Doubler's "speed increase" value. The number one Mac product in the US, and I have never seen a review that quantifies its added value the Mac OS.

Where OptiMem was considered in the press, readers were usually left the false impression that the products were the same. Even worse, when the two products were inappropriately presented as equivalent, they were never really compared. Details, which are needed to show the merits of OptiMem, and the drawbacks of RAM Doubler, were not examined.

Meanwhile, We Continued To Work Hard...

Robert Thornton has a saying, "Don't get into a pissing match with a skunk." Following this philosophy, we continued to work hard to provide the best product possible. We did everything we could, to fine tune what was already a strong offering.

We responded quickly to user feedback, improving the product and releasing enhancements regularly. With our limited marketing ability, we tried both detailed advertisements as well as superficial ones. We gave OptiMem a face lift with version 2. We changed our name, reducing "OptiMem" to a secondary position, adopting "RAM Charger" as our new headline.

We felt that users would come to understand the situation, and that the innovation of our product would eventually bring appropriate recognition. We did not point out each instance where Connectix misrepresented their product, nor where reviews were incorrect, or misleading. We continued to advertise honestly, and we chose to focus on the positive.

...Doing Well In Japan...

This strategy worked well in Japan (the second largest Mac market behind the US), when combined with strong marketing. In 1996, we entered into an agreement with System Soft, a Japanese marketing and distribution agent. In the first few months of sales, RAM Charger was the number one selling Macintosh product in Japan. I am not aware of our current standing in Japan, but I do know that sales continue at a very good, steady, rate.

Our success in Japan makes it very clear that our largest failure in the US was marketing. I am quite convinced that if the actual functionality of both RAM Charger and RAM Doubler had been understood, and RAM Charger was given enough advertising, it would have also been a blockbuster in the US.

...But We Need To Do Better

At this point, I regret our original "no pissing match" position. Sometimes, you have to get into a pissing match with a skunk. As a result, I now write this history, though Robert may still wish I held my tongue. I hope that this web page will make you, and anyone you know, question everything you have heard about Mac memory.

Clearly, it is time for RAM Charger to get the advertising it deserves. We can no longer wait for the press and user community to discover RAM Charger on their own. Therefor, we now enter into a new era of marketing RAM Charger in the US...

Then, Off To One Side, There Was SoftRAM...

The amazing RAM Doubler phenomenon did not go un-noticed by everyone. There were those in the Windows market that took notice. Certainly, if memory compression could be sold in the Mac environment, it would be able to make money in the Windows' market as well.

In 1995, Connectix was beaten in the Windows' market by Sycronys Softcorp's SoftRAM, on a scale equivalent to the blow dealt [OptiMem] RAM Charger by RAM Doubler (though more appropriate, since they were direct competitors). SoftRAM sold somewhere around 650 thousand units (a huge marketing success) in the first year of its introduction.

Mind you, Connectix did not appreciate being beat in the Windows market. In specific, Andrew Schulman, who had consulted for Connectix, was quick to criticize SoftRAM. Certainly, RAM Charger has no connection to the Connectix-Schulman/Syncronys conflict. However, it is interesting to note that Jump Development Group is not the first company to discover a dark side to Connectix.

...And We Joined With Syncronys...

At this point, we recognized an opportunity to combine our technically valuable product with Syncronys' effective marketing. Syncronys clearly understood the issues about the success of RAM Doubler relative to [OptiMem] RAM Charger. They had the financial backing, and the need to establish a presence in the Mac market.

Robert contacted Syncronys, and over a period of months came to appreciate the opportunity even more. From the inside, we confirmed that Syncronys had technical expertise, as well as the required marketing resources. It was simply a bonus when we discovered that Connectix had a consistent reputation at both companies.

As of MacWorld Expo August 1996, we turned over marketing to Syncronys. We have finally completely dropped the name OptiMem, an objective started in 1995 when we introduced OptiMem RAM Charger version 2, now selling with the more marketable name RAM Charger. We still continue to develop RAM Charger, and work closely with Syncronys to influence the most accurate advertising possible in a sleazy business (advertising).

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