Twenty years is a long time though, and in that time the Internet has changed dramatically - it has gone from being something that most people hadn't even heard of when I began, to being so pervasive that most people now can't imagine a world without it. As the Internet has grown and changed, so have the attitudes of the community of people who use it: phenomena such as YouTube and FaceBook have changed the way people interact with each other, but have also engendered a common expectation that everything should be free.
Now, as someone who has always given his software away to the maximum extent possible, I'm clearly not against the idea of things being free, but I also believe it's not unreasonable to expect that things requiring as much work, investment and ongoing effort as Pegasus Mail and Mercury should be able to generate a modest living income. Unfortunately, for the last three years they simply have not done so, where prior to that they did.
We're not talking about huge numbers here - all it would take to secure the indefinite existence and support of these programs would be for a thousand people to commit to a donation of US$50 each year. When I raised this as a suggestion earlier this year, the response from you all was so positive and morale-boosting that I've set up The Pegasus Mail Thousand, an initiative where people committed to keeping Pegasus Mail and Mercury alive and flourishing can do so through a simple annual payment - you can sign up at http://hera.pmail.gen.nz/TheThousand.
I would really like to see my "babies" to endure into their twenties and beyond: as long as we can find a way of providing a basic level of ongoing financial support for them and me, I am willing to keep working on them and making them freely available. It's up to you.
-- David Harris --
Update - August 2010: I've put up a new Developer News Page, detailing the things we're working on. The aim is to update this each month or so, to keep you abreast of developments. We also hope that those of you who were kind enough to join The Thousand last year will consider renewing your support in September - we'll send out notifications closer to the time. Thank you all!