After his plans for a new version of Royal Space Force get the kibosh, Hideaki Anno drowns his sorrows with a guy from King Records. He happens to come back home having just reached the Ballmer Peak. Struck by drunken inspiration, Anno bashes out the initial implementation of Evangelion while heavily intoxicated.
Sometime in 1994, Anno is finally happy enough with his work to put down an official-sounding version number. The ending is still a stub, but he figures he’ll get around to it eventually.
1.0alpha2 through 1.0alpha5
Resource leaks at Gainax, as well as some nutcases with bags of sarin, force Anno to perform several rewrites throughout 1995. Despite these setbacks, he remains confident in his progress, and announces a public beta will open in October.
1.0beta1 (codename “Television Series”)
First public release. Though he wants to release further alphas before opening up the code, Anno can’t bear to let his earlier schedule slip, and ultimately pushes out a beta in October as promised. Despite the unfinished ending implementation still lingering from the early alphas, Evangelion becomes wildly popular upon its release, and is incorporated into a large number of core anime libraries.
1.0beta2 (“Death and Rebirth”); 1.0rc1 (“End”)
Anno succumbs to scope creep, and goes back to add new features. He finally implements an ending in 1.0rc1, released in 1998, though he’s not quite happy with it.
Anno rolls in a few patches to fix lingering bugs, and promises that 1.0 is just around the corner.
That whole period between 1998 and 2006
The project sits abandoned on SourceForge. Anno, in an apparent fit of boredom, moves on to writing new software, while downstream maintainers accumulate growing patchsets in an attempt to rectify Evangelion’s worst inconsistencies.
Anno sends the first message to the evangelion-announce mailing list in eight years, giving a 2007 release date for Evangelion 1.0 as if nothing had happened. Furthermore, he moves Evangelion onto a rapid release schedule, promising 2.0 and further versions in six-month rolling cycles, with a completely rewritten ending to arrive in 4.0.
To no one’s surprise, Anno pushes back 2.0’s release date to summer 2009. In the interim, he puts out a maintenance release in April 2008.
Version 1.1 never sees the light of day, thanks to an April Fool’s Day hoax in Newtype involving a vacuum cleaner and an Asuka body pillow. Anno instead numbers the next release 1.11, which just adds to the confusion. Only later does he realize “1.2” might have been clearer.
I run out of software development jokes.