I hope this [important people leaving VoIP industry] isn't the start of a trend. But if it is, this just goes to show you that the VoIP industry is constantly evolving and perhaps new blood will be a good thing. It's easy to get sentimental when people I've worked with for years leave an industry I love.
Asterisk started in late 2001. I penned an article for Communications Solutions Magazine titled 'In Search Of A Linux-Based PBX' where I examined the various Linux-based PBX solutions. Take a look at what I wrote for Asterisk:
As my search continued, I stumbled upon a company called Asterisk. According to their Web site, Asterisk is an open source PBX and general telephony toolkit that runs on the Linux operating system. Asterisk provides a set of APIs that essentially make it a type of middleware between Internet and telephony channels like VoIP, voice over frame relay, etc., and telephony and Internet applications like voice mail, phone directories, call parking, and so forth. Asterisk supports a flexible and extensible channel API, allowing any number of real hardware or software interfaces. It is purported to support ISDN, PRI, T1, and POTS through an Adtran Atlas. The Quicknet Internet PhoneJack and Quicknet Internet LineJack are both supported. Plans to support Lucent-based Winmodems also in the works. This product is not a turnkey out-of-the-box Linux-based PBX, and its still under development, but it does have several telephony functions working, such as call bridging, call transfer, call parking, and rudimentary voice mail. Check them out.
Wow! Back in 2001 the only POTS support Asterisk had was with Adtran Atlas and the Quicknet Internet PhoneJack. Now Asterisk works with Digium hardware, Rhino, Pika, Sangoma, and more. Further, back in 2001 I explained, "This product is not a turnkey out-of-the-box Linux-based PBX, and its still under development, but it does have several telephony functions working, such as call bridging, call transfer, call parking, and rudimentary voice mail." Amazing! Who would make such a statement today about Asterisk? It has all the major telephone features and a pretty sophisticated voicemail system. When I examined Asterisk back in 2001, it seems like a garage basement project by a couple of guys - which it pretty much was. Just ask Mark Spencer!
My oh my how fast it has grown. It's too bad Mark didn't offer stock options back in 2001. I would have taken some. I'm a huge fan of open source and knew that Linux was going to crack the multi-billion dollar telecom market, which is why I penned the 'In Search Of A Linux-Based PBX' article in the first place.