We’ve come a long way baby

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Daniel M. Dorothy – Executive Editor

Twenty five years is a long time. A lot can happen in a quarter century, and usually does. It’s amazing sometimes to think how many changes occur over that time, and perhaps even more so how much has remained the same.

The front page of our first edition, Vol. 1 No. 1 which came out on 23 July 1993 featured a Kenyan winning the Pattaya Marathon. Once again this year, as it has happened for almost every year since, a Kenyan man has won the Pattaya Marathon.

The back page of that very issue featured William E. Heinecke topping out the brand new Royal Garden Plaza. Pattaya’s first big shopping mall is still there and thriving.

However, when Pattaya Mail came into existence, our offices were on Soi Diana next door to Cafe Kronborg, which celebrated its first anniversary in 1993. Our offices have moved several times since then, but the Kronborg is still there, and has even expanded.

From our humble beginnings 25 years ago in that small two-storey shophouse, a few years ago we moved into our very own brand new ultra-modern 5 story office building on Thepprasit Road. This particular change has been as welcome as it was dramatic.

After starting with a spread of sometimes hard to fill 16 pages, we now put out 40 pages each week filled to the brim. Oftentimes we have too much news to fit it all in.

We started out using new Intel 386 computers running Windows 3.0 with 8MB of Ram and 20MB hard discs. Yes, that’s megabytes, not gigabytes. Digital cameras hadn’t been invented yet. Email was still a rumor. There was no Wifi. Electronic scanning was in its infancy, at least for us. Our newspaper layouts needed to be printed on A4 paper, two horizontal sheets for each page. Pages were put up on a big layered shelf. Photos were taped into place. When all pages were full, they were put in a box and carried by hand, on a bus, to the print shop in Bangkok.

Dan and Peter cut the cake at Pattaya Mail’s 15th anniversary.
Dan and Peter cut the cake at Pattaya Mail’s 15th anniversary.

Andy Gombaez’s memories of those early days included, “Getting up early and catching the bus to Bangkok to take the art-work to the printers. This was sometimes after working all night.”

Nowadays – well, let’s just say computers have come a long way. Even moderately new computers have 8 gigabytes of RAM and 1 or 2 terabyte hard drives. We can now put the entire week’s newspaper on a disc or portable hard drive and take it to a local printer. No more bus rides to Bangkok at the crack of dawn.

Remember faxes? They were the main form of written telecommunication in the early days. When big international events happened in Pattaya, we were the only newspaper in town. International reporters would come to our office to use our modern equipment and fax their copy to their editors in London, New York and other exotic places.

Cellular phones were still new and relatively expensive, and existed almost entirely to make and receive telephone calls. The first PDA was invented by IBM and Bellsouth in 1993. It had all kinds of amazing new things, like calendar, address book and even a calculator – but no email, Bluetooth or text messaging.

Dan (left) and Andy (right) hamming it up in the Pattaya Mail office on Second Road back in the early days.
Dan (left) and Andy (right) hamming it up in the Pattaya Mail office on Second Road back in the early days.

Back in 1993 at our little offices on Soi Diana, Chuck Pringle was our jack-of-all-trades. He was editor, writer, graphics designer and layout, all for a mere fifteen thousand baht a month. John Scotchmer was our photographer, and I was the sports and features writer. We had Meow the receptionist, one reporter named Somkuan (who got slapped by a city councilor for asking a question), while most of the news, all in Thai, came from the police reports or city hall. Peter’s cousin Amorn translated from Thai into English.

Today we have a handful of stringer reporters and photographers, two translators, a full office staff, delivery people and we use a local print shop.

Over the past 25 years there have been some amazing events, some of which you may find on other pages of this newspaper. Other, behind the scenes stories – well, I suppose they need to remain behind the scenes for now.

Finally, it is with heartfelt thanks that we salute you the reader, you the advertiser, and you the contributor, for without you we wouldn’t have been able to last this long. We hope we may continue to live up to your expectations for the years to come.