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2013: Remembering the First ‘All Things Open’

A look at the very first All Things Open, which brought a world-class open-source event to downtown Raleigh, which was the backyard of Red Hat, at the time the most successful independent open-source company in the world.

The 2013 All Things Open T-Shirt

Oops! This is one of two ATO T-shirts that we don’t have in our collection, which possibly means that being the first of the ATO events there wasn’t a T-shirt, which is highly unlikely. What’s much more likely is that since this was the first tech conference that our Christine Hall had ever covered, she wasn’t hip and with it enough to make sure she grabbed a T-shirt.

Oh well, since we don’t have a picture of a T-shirt to show you, here’s a shot of folks watching one of the opening morning keynotes at the first All Things Open.

people watching opening day Keynotes at All Things Open 2013
People watching opening day Keynotes at All Things Open 2013.

2013 was the year it all got started, of course. While nobody knew quite what to expect from this inaugural event, expectations were high, because it appeared that Columbia, South Carolina-based IT-ology, the organization behind the event, was hoping to build All Things Open into a larger event than it had seen with POSSCON, an open-source conference it had been running in Columbia for several years.

POSSCON had been successful. People liked the event and it got good reviews from the open source press, but attendence numbers had leveled off at about 600, which was pretty underwhelming. Organizers were hoping to be able to build better numbers with a downtown Raleigh event, held in Red Hat’s backyard at a time when Red Hat pretty much defined what it meant to be a successful independent open-source company. Red Hat’s success at the time also meant that the city was full of open-source startups, mostly doing business with or wanting to do business with Red Hat.

This turned out to be beneficial for All Things Open.

Year One by Numbers

whurley at ATO 2013
Tech entrepreneur and investor William Hurley, better known as Whurley, who was a speaker at the first All Things Open. In 2023, Whurley would have still been founder and chief innovation officer at Chaotic Moon Studios, which was acquired by Accenture in 2014.

Christine Hall says that according to her recollection, she was told that organizers of the first All Things Open figured that if attendance reached 300 people, they would consider the event a success. During the closing ceremonies at the end of the second day, chairperson Todd Lewis announced the attendance at over 800 people, which surpassed all expectations. The feeling was that it would only be better next year.

People at ATO 2013

Todd Lewis at 2013 All Things Open
Master of ceremonies Todd Lewis (left) poses for a picture at first ever All Things Open in 2013.
Software engineer Jim Jagielski at All Things Open in 2013. Jagielski co-founded the Apache Software Foundation and over the years has served in various capacities at the organization, including vice chairperson, chairperson, director, president, and executive vice president. He has been a frequent speaker at ATO.
Jason Hibbets, a frequent speaker at All Things Open.
Jason Hibbets, a frequent speaker at All Things Open and a 20 year veteran at Red Hat who was let go early this year when IBM owned Red Hat laid-off off most of its community oriented employees, ending a long tradition at the company.
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