HERMES: a history


For devotees of the idea that information ought to be free, November 26, 2010 is a date which will live on in infamy. On that day, United States District Judge Kimba Wood issued an injunction effectively killing LimeWire, a piece of free-as-in-speech software that shaped the course of Internet history. A few weeks later, a good Internet citizen going by the pseudonym Meta Pirate exercised his right to distribute a one-off fork of the latest LimeWire source online, calling it LimeWire Pirate Edition.

Though this nugget of information may seem tangential at best to our mission, products, and philosophy, it is of central importance, because it is in part where we started. LimeWire Pirate Edition evolved into a combination Gnutella/Torrent servent known as WireShare; the primary architect behind this process of evolution was an aspiring lawyer named Nicholas Edward Werner-Matavka, who was recovering from a catastrophic injury at the time and needed something to do.

HERMES, as an entity, came three years later. It initially had nothing to do with WireShare beyond sharing a founder; QUALCOMM had released the source code to its long-abandoned eMail client, Eudora, but for legal reasons the name could not be used even though the code could. The name Hermes (mixed-case) was chosen because of its classical associations.

Some time later, it was decided that HERMES (name now capitalised, as in the logo) should grow to encompass not only the original Windows mail client but also WireShare, as well as the erstwhile Eudora for Mac (Mail/X), only at the conceptual stage as yet. Our original offering would now be called, logically enough, Mail.

The rationale for the name change (or move, depending on how you want to see it) was two-fold: first, keeping the name for the umbrella concern would retain the classical allusion, and second, keeping all the "big communications projects" together would allow for some degree of convergence in manpower, if and when significant mindshare was attained.

Looking forward, our intent is to become the biggest and finest Open Source communications software in the market. To established users of LimeWire, WireShare, and Eudora: welcome home!