The interest in the Oblique Strategies on the part of myself and a number of other people that gave birth to this web site predates the Internet as we know it today, and stretches back to a time when there was a single USENET group dedicated to music and a number of us kept in touch via mailing lists.
John Lorch, Rob Stanzel, Michael Metlay, John Drukman, Dan Maghrak, and others) and myself have puzzled over the contents of the decks for longer than any of us would care to admit, and we were all probably drawing cards from the Oblique Strategies deck (homemade or otherwise) for some time before that. Unsurprisingly, queries for the contents of the Oblique Strategies decks have been a perennial feature of - spread over countless newsgroups and mailing lists [and now, the Web].
In those days, what wound up happening was that one of us transcribed the copy of the deck that we had for posting some great age ago, and it kept showing up again and again - often with some additions or errors clinging to it like little cyberbarnacles.
In some cases, the missing bits were a side effect of some kind act; in the early 1980s, Michael Metlay was kind enough to slightly alter the posted copy of the deck's contents so that the Strategies fit on a single line for easy use for UNIX "fortune" programs or CRT users. Being thorough, Michael kindly pointed out that he'd he'd left off the occasional attribution. As cyberorganisms are wont to do, the disclaimers vanished the umptyninth time the stuff was reposted.
There were also some interesting missteps in the dreary and grueling business of actually typing in the content of a deck, too; one version of the deck published includes the aphorism, "Is the information correct?" instead of "Is the intonation correct?"
But the simple truth of the matter is that we were all working with received materials to some extent. This is also true of the "True and Complete History of the Oblique Strategies which graced/graces the EnoWeb since 1995; Until this current site update, I had never done what would seem to be the simplest thing of all - to sit down a a table with one copy of each edition of the Oblique Strategies and lay them all out in alphabetical order so they could be compared.
I am particularly grateful to Dan Jenkins and Hal Sundt and Peter Norton for making that simple afternoon's work possible. I was a bit chagrined to discover that my own work on the last iteration of the history of the Strategies was also salted with error. I have tried to correct them all, and rely on you to point out those places where error persists.
On the "Once the search is in progress...." field, people like Clark Walker have come to my aid when it comes to resolving matters of import (such as "How many editions of decks 2 and 3 were made?") by remembering the contents of footnotes. You should view this as absolutely exemplary behavior, and find my other shortcomings.
I was reminded by "Karen from Atlanta" of the existence of a short article which appeared in one of the final editions of the Whole Earth Catalog. She was kind enough to transcribe the brief article's contents, which contained a few stray user-contributed cards. Thanks, Karen.
There have also been several recent contributions to the material on this site that I think have gone a long way toward making these materials more useful and timely; Peter Norton was kind enough to offer us a firsthand account of the genesis of the recent privately produced fourth edition of the Oblique Strategies, and to provide me with access to a copy of the fourth edition for the purposes of transcription and for some visual examples of this remarkable set.
Kirk McElhearn proved an invaluable source of information on the fabled French language edition of the Oblique Strategies. His effort at actually transcribing the French edition means that we all have access to it now. I've taken his transcription and made it available as a text listing, and also set up a page which lets you draw a French card. Kirk was also kind enough to provide a nifty little Apple OS Applet that draws an Oblique Strategy. You can find it here.
On the Japanese language front, Craig Peacock was invaluable in putting me in touch with the people who could offer me as definitive an answer on the non-existence of the Japanese edition of the Oblique Strategies. As a result of his discreet inquiries, we know now the truth (and so does Eno, evidently).
Domo arigato gozaimasu, Craigu-san.
I look forward to the chance to add your name here as a future acknowledgement. Consider yourself welcome to act as my squad of cyberproofreaders and oracular sources of advice for ways to improve the information here.
With every good wish,
Oblique Strategies ©
1975, 1978, and 1979 Brian Eno/Peter Schmidt