Delta Tao Stuff
Contents this page
Our Mailing List
If you have an e-mail address on the Internet, you can subscribe to the
Delta Tao mailing list. Send "subscribe deltatao-announce" to
That’ll keep you up to date, with news of our new products, strategies,
questions and answers, and various propaganda. We don’t sell our mailing
list to anybody, and we only send maybe one message a month.
Our Web page:
Clan Lord Web page:
The History of Delta Tao
Delta Tao was born in 1989, when Joe Williams and Tim Cotter ("The Amazing
Timmer") tired of complaining about the high price and low quality of
software and decided to do something about it. They wrote Color MacCheese,
the first affordable color paint program -- $49 when its closest competitor
was $599. When Color MacCheese sold lots of copies, we took the plunge and
dedicated ourselves to starting a little company to write Mac software.
Many people asked, "Why Delta Tao? Sounds like a fraternity." There is a
reason. "Delta" is the symbol used by engineers around the world to signify
change. One would say "Delta V" when he means "change in velocity." We admit
this is engineerspeak, but forgive us for a minute. We’re mostly engineers,
so this makes sense, at least to us.
"Tao" (pronounced DOW) is a Chinese word that means "the Path," or "the
Way." It is the big concept behind Taoism. We’re mostly Taoist sympathizers
around here, so this made sense too.
When you put these together, "Delta Tao" means "The Changing Path," or "The
Change in the Path." We thought that this was almost a profound statement of
direction, so we adopted it as a name.
We want to stifle all rumors right now that this name may have evolved in
any way from the name of our college "fraternity," Delta Tau Sigma (at
Caltech, if you must know). All such statements are unfounded, and any
similarity in the names is coincidental. Any references to a Mr. Dan
Schwartz are also hereby disavowed. Also, it has nothing to do with Animal
House frat "Delta Delta Tau," or because we wrote Color MacCheese in Delta
Junction, Alaska. These things are just coincidence. Really.
Delta Tao (now expanded to include Eric Snider, Peter Commons, Howard Vives,
Christie Cooper, John Speck, Bob Van de walle, Paul Toth, and several
others) is out to convince people that computers and technology are
important, fun, and useful tools that can change the way the world works for
the better. We believe that the Macintosh is the greatest computer on the
planet, so we’re focusing on writing cool Mac software. Like games.
We’re tired of certain other computers having more, better games than the
Macintosh. We hate seeing ports from other systems dominate the Mac game
market. This takes away from the Mac’s biggest advantage -- the user
interface. Instead of just using our standard Mac stuff, we have to put up
with the varied and difficult user interfaces those other computers have.
We love the Mac, and love computer games, so we bite the bullet and write
great games for the Mac. Even if our games don’t make us a huge profit (and
they don’t, trust us), they need to be done, just to spur the Mac into the
homes, where it belongs. Besides, we want to play them.
Someday we hope to be famous.
Since we don’t do much of anything in the way of marketing or advertising,
we depend on word of mouth. That means we want you to do our advertising for
us. Tell all your friends how great our products are. Call up local software
and computer stores and ask them to carry our stuff.
Call us and tell us the names of your local software stores, so we can nag
them from our end.
We also like encouragement. Surprisingly, none of us is making a huge
fortune in the software business. Yet. We do it because it’s fun, and
because we like to believe we’re making the world a happier, better place.
Send us a letter telling us if you think we’re cool. Chat with us via
e-mail. Invite us to dinner. We love that stuff.
Yeah, we know we’re the only software company in the world that thinks
"customer support" works this way. But we deserve it.
Delta Tao Frequently Asked Questions
We’re a bunch of engineer types who like to sit around writing games. This
amazes everybody: Half ask, "How can they make a living doing that?" and the
other half ask, "Why would anybody want to?"
How many of you are there?
Between five and twenty, depending on how you count us. Ten’s a fair guess.
Do you work out of your house?
Yep. Each of the programmers has an office in his house, and the
phone-answering, testing, and frenzied partying happens at TaoHouse.
Are you guys rich?
Spiritually. We make half the money as we would working for a real company,
but we have twice as much fun, which more than makes up for it.
Are you guys a cult, or a fraternity, or what?
We prefer "fraternicult."
Nah, really we’re just nerds with a mission.
Proving computers are fun.
Is that a lawyer behind you?
Oh, I meant, "Proving Computers are Fun."
Why do you like Macs so much?
It’s been proven statistically that Macs are more fun, as demonstrated by
the SSR -- the Smiling/Swearing Ratio. Mac users have an SSR of 11.7, while
Windoze users are more along the lines of 0.04. And this number is generally
agreed upon in the industry, despite the fact that I just made it up.
Our Stand on Copy-Protection
We at Delta Tao think that copy-protection is an evil thing that could
damage the growth of the software industry and the computer industry as a
whole. We hope you’ll boycott all copy-protected products. Here’s why.
We believe people have a certain amount of money to spend on software. After
they blow their software budget, they still want more software. If
copy-protection is preeminent, they are out of luck. The software they buy
is the only software they have. They find their Macintosh less useful, and
don’t encourage their friends to buy one. The hardware and software
industries dwindle and die.
On the other hand, if things aren’t copy-protected, people pirate software
once they’ve blown their software budget. They learn which programs are good
and useful first hand. The next year they will make informed decisions about
what software to purchase. In the meantime, they find their computer more
useful and friendly. They recommend it to their friends, who go on to become
There are two problems. Number one, in a world where some programs are
copy-protected and others aren’t, people may buy copy-protected software
(since that’s the only way they can get it) and pirate the unprotected
software. This rewards the businesses who are damaging the industry, and
punishes those who help it along.
Number two, publishers without copy-protection can’t sell bad software with
massive advertising. Since people tend to try software before they purchase
it, companies only sell their products to people who find it useful. This
means companies with inferior products, but big budgets, adore
We don’t mind problem number two so much, but the first problem scares us.
The solution: boycott copy protection. Make sure it isn’t profitable to
Before the Software Publisher’s Association has us lynched (they claim that
"billions of dollars of revenue are lost every year to piracy") we’ll invent
at least a little bit of evidence for our theory. Remember back when the
cassette tape was invented? People could now copy records indiscriminately,
and there was nothing the record company could do about it. "We’re doomed!"
they shouted. "Now we’ll only sell one of each record!" What really
happened? The music industry took off to previously unimaginable levels,
generating more profits for more artists than ever before.
When VCRs were first available, people could copy movies indiscriminately,
and there was little the movie companies could do about it. "We’re doomed!"
they cried. "Now we’ll never sell another movie!" What happened? The movie
industry took off to previously unimaginable levels, generating more profits
for more people than ever before.
Pay for software based on its quality, not its advertising, packaging, and
About the Packaging
Clan Lord doesn’t come in a box with fancy styrofoam stuffing or glow in the
dark stickers. We did this on purpose. We hate excessive cardboard and
styrofoam for environmental reasons. We have done our best to avoid putting
anything in the package that you’ll just throw away. We like trees. Our
package is just the right size and doesn’t require any popcorn or fluffy
cardboard filler to make the box feel full.
Here’s an experiment. Buy 10 Macintosh products. Count how many have a lot
of filler making the box look bigger. See how much smaller the box could be
if the goal was not just to have a bigger box. Call those companies and tell
them to make their boxes smaller. See what they say.
About This Manual
Joe Williams wrote this manual with FrameMaker from Frame Technologies. The
fonts are Mistral (for the chapter titles) and ITC Garamond Condensed (for
most everything else). We took the screen shots with Flash-It, and doctored
them with Color MacCheese and Zeus. Everything was output on an HP LaserJet
In case you didn’t figure it out, yes, we do everything on Macs.
These are a couple of books that don’t have anything to do with Macintosh
software, or solitaire, or cards, or anything, but we always enjoy reading
them. On top of that, they embody the Delta Tao philosophy. In the years
we’ve been recommending these books, we’ve never heard a complaint that one
The Tao of Pooh , by Benjamin Hoff. The best book on Taoism ever.
Calvin and Hobbes, by Bill Watterson
The Macintosh Way, by Guy Kawasaki
Surely You Must Be Joking, Mr. Feynman, by Richard Feynman
Nobody’s Business if You Do, by Peter McWilliams
The Dilbert Principle, by Scott Adams
Delta Tao’s Paint Programs
In addition to making games, we also make paint programs -- that’s how we
made a living before we wrote games. And our paint programs sure come in
handy for creating the art in the games.
Color MacCheese and Apprentice now come bundled together. We got tired of
people asking which one to buy, so now you can’t get one without getting the
An all-purpose beast for editing scanned photos, drawing diagrams, and
making pretty pictures.
Includes tools like chalk, oils, and watercolors (not the circles, lines,
and text of Color MacCheese). You can make paintings that don’t look like
they’re made on a computer. And it’s got a cool tutorial that will let
anybody who ever wanted to paint get a jump-start in the art game.
Creates mosaics from collections of your photographs. Available in the
Delta Tao’s Other Games
If you like Clan Lord (and we know you do), we hope you’ll try the other
stuff we make -- it’s cool, too.
Eric’s Ultimate Solitaire CD
The premier collection of solitaire card games. Our bread and butter
product. One of the greatest time-wasters ever.
Spaceward Ho! 4.0
Our "conquer the galaxy" game has earned critical raves and a fanatical
following. If you’re interested at all in fun, fast strategic games, we
recommend the Ho!.
Strategic Conquest 4.0
Explore the world and fight a mysterious enemy with a variety of military
machinery, including aircraft carriers, bombers, armies, and so on.
Especially good on a network.
This is one of our favorite games of all time. It’s a great arcade/strategy
game and now it’s in color.
An amazing waterfall simulator for PowerPC Macintoshes. Something like an
Return to Dark Castle
The sequel to Dark Castle. Available in 1999.