Steve McIntyre, who led the project in 2008 and 2009, joined Debian in 1996. He wrote that he had first installed Debian in late October that year, migrating over from his existing Slackware installation with the help of a friend. It took an entire weekend and he says he found it so painful that he thought of bailing out at many times.
"But, I stuck with it and after a few more days I decided I was happier with Debian than with the broken old Slackware system I'd been using. That last file (fstab.old) (output given below) is the old fstab file from the Slackware system, backed up just before I made the switch."
jack:~$ ls -alt /etc
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 6932 Feb 10 1997 pine.conf.old
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 6907 Dec 29 1996 pine.conf.old2
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 76739 Dec 7 1996 mailcap.old
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1225 Oct 20 1996 fstab.old
"So, I mailed Bruce (Perens, the Debian leader at the time) to ask for an account (there was none of this NM (new maintainer) concept back then!) and I think he replied the next day. Unfortunately, I don't have the email in my archives any more due to a disk crash back in the dim and distant past. But I can see that the first PGP key I generated for the sake of joining Debian dates from 30 October 1996 which gives me a date of 31 October 1996 for joining Debian."
In his 20 years, McIntyre said he had worked on audio applications, the installer, low-level CD and DVD tools, making CD images and a wiki engine written in python.
"I've worked hard to help make the best operating system on the planet, both for my own sake and the sake of our users," he wrote.
"Debian has been both excellent fun and occasionally a huge cause of stress in my life for the last 20 years, but despite the latter I wouldn't go back and change anything. Why? Through Debian, I've made some great friends: in Cambridge, in the UK, in Europe, on every continent."
An employee of ARM in Cambridge in the UK, McIntyre is a maintainer for a number of Debian packages and also a co-maintainer for some others. He also sells Debian on CDs, DVDs and USB sticks.