Posted by Michelle Pfister on December 11, 2009 in Family Tree Maker

Hello Everyone,

We wanted to take a moment and announce something very exciting.

Family Tree Maker is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year!

Here is some of the history behind the program.

In 1989, the first edition of Family Tree Maker was released by Banner Blue Software. This program ran on DOS, and came on 3.5 and 5.25 floppy disks. Even then, though, the program was designed to help you gather, store, and then share your family history.

First Edition of Family Tree Maker - 1989
First Edition of Family Tree Maker - 1989

Banner Blue was acquired by Broderbund Software in the mid 1990s, after Banner Blue had released a second edition of Family Tree Maker. Broderbund continued to add new developments to Family Tree Maker as technology advanced, releasing a few more versions of the program.

Over the next few years, the Family Tree Maker program was owned by several different companies, but kept getting updated as the resources to build family trees and do family history research advanced with the growth of technology. It eventually came to rest with a company called, which released version 10 in about 2002. Soon after this, was purchased by MyFamily, which later was known as The Generations Network and is now

With the success of the program, which has been a major leader in the family tree building software industry since its beginning, MyFamily kept expanding the features of the program and releasing new versions. In 2006, version 16 was released. The program had expanded from a simple way to print family trees, to a powerful program that could include pictures, create a digital scrap book, and had the power to search the Internet for more information on your family tree.

However, Family Tree maker was still based on old computer programming, and would not be able to keep up with new releases of personal computer technology. We decided it was time for a major revamp of the program to keep it current with the latest updates in computer operating systems. While this wasn’t always a smooth road, we’ve learned a lot and feel we’ve come out with an even better product because of that learning process.

We’re doing our best to continue to integrate the new features and improvements you have suggested as Family Tree Maker users through the years.

Family Tree Maker 2010 - 20 years after the first release
Family Tree Maker 2010 - 20 yrs after first edition

In Family Tree Maker 2010, we have brought back the in-program book building feature, and updated the features of our “Extended Family Tree” chart based on feedback from “All-in-one chart users. (We’re planning a new post that will go over the finer details of these two charts soon.) In addition, we’ve added many new features based on the needs and suggestions of our users.

And so that brings us to this year, where we’re celebrating 20 years of Family Tree Maker growth, and looking forward to even more growth and improvement to come.

Keep your suggestions and comments coming!


  1. Hyatt E. Cayton

    It was interesting to read the history of Family Tree Maker. I have been involved in family history research since 1957. I have owned almost every one of the Family Tree Programs that you mention in your article. I have found it very helpful in my research.

    I am currently using the current version: Family Tree Maker 2010. After the initial shock of the major changes from the old format, I have found it really a great program.

    Thank You.

    Hyatt E. Cayton

  2. Carolyn Ramsay

    I have had FTM for most of the time you have been making it. In the section”More” I find I run out of room and have to begin cutting things to make room. I don’t like to leave out a word much less chunks of documents. Have you addressed this yet? I am currently starting over adding pictures and basic info to ancestry. However, there are stacks of documents. Where do I put them? Can I put my old FTM material into the new version without losing things or becoming hopelessly confused? I owuld be happy to buy new but i got v10 and then was so confused I went back to v7. I would hate to have to start over with a new company. Carolyn Ramsay

  3. John Donaldson

    # 2 Carolyn

    FTM 2010 aallow 1 MB of text in Notes (about 250 pages per person). You can copy and paste between applications

    John D

  4. John Donaldson

    I have also used FTM since version 2 for Windows.

    One of the things that has stayed close to FTM is the FTM tech list.

    The list was started by Paul Burchfield a techie at Banner Blue in Fremont CA on 6 April 1995.

    It is still running and literally thousands of answers have been provied by users. A lot of the high end users also hang out on the list.

    You can subscribe on this link

    John D

  5. James

    I’ve been using the program since version 3. Thank-you for helping me find and document my ancestors and related families.


  6. Like John Donaldson, I, too, have been using FTM since V.2 for DOS. Throughout the many ownership changes, there has always been a dedicated core of programmers who are interested in genealogy who have continuously improved the software.

    Congratulations to for this fine program.

    Lawrence Bouett
    Lafayette, California

  7. Eleanor Wilkinson

    I have just started using FTM 2010, and find it very good EXCEPT that there appears to be no “descendant report” on the charting options. I am quite disappointed, as this is something I found very useful in the previous editions. You could send it as a pdf file, and a huge amounty of information could be included on a few pages. Does anyone else miss having this on the 2010 FTM?

  8. John Donaldson

    # 9 Eleanor

    There are two decsendant reports which are in the collection view under reports.

    There are also descendant charts in the chart collection view.

    You won’t find any reports in the chart collections and vice versa

    Both are in the Publish area along with all the other output options.

    Can you see the LH collection view list? It is headed “Publication Types”?

    If not drag the LH panel so you can see all the output options

    Also look a Publish and its sub heading in Help and/or look at the Publish tutorial in Help on Publish

    John D

  9. Clem Edwards

    Still have the original 5.25 disks – but nothing to run them on, ha ha. My db is now over 100k persons – back then it was 2,000.

  10. Keith

    I have been using Family Tree Maker since the Banner Blue days and have loved it. I have upgraded to the 2010 and ordered the book with it, but I have never received it.

  11. John Wootton

    I have been discovering my ancestry since 1988 and have been using your software over the last 20 years. I would like to upload my tree to but it is too large to transmit. When will we be able to transfer more than 50mb?

  12. Donald Hinson

    I created my first family trees on the predecessor software to Family Tree Maker. I believe Banner Blue started off making Organization Chart software.

  13. Eleanor Wilkinson

    Thanks, John Donaldson. I failed to see how to open the LH panel – embarrassing! Very happy with FTM 2010 and looking forward to using it – specially with new features.

  14. David

    I had the original Macintosh Filemaker version. Now I am running VMWare on my mac with 2010. There are things I like about it, but seemed to have lost a lot when books were missing for a few versions. Now I am trying to reconstruct them.

    In text mode, the images used to text wrap, and you could include captions. Can’t figure out how to do that again. Thanks

  15. Paul Burchfield

    It’s incredible that any product is still around (and going strong) after 20 years.

    That’s a testament to great and loyal customers. I used to frequently remind my co-workers how lucky we were to be a part of a company who was involved in genealogy. After all, people’s family histories are by definition personal and knowing that we were a part of that process meant we had an extra responsibility to our customers.

    There sure were a lot of passionate discussions about Family Tree Maker, the various companies that owned it, and the products that surrounded it. I really don’t think that people care about word processors enough to get as worked up as they did about Family Tree Maker. And that’s what made my time so very special.

    It’s wonderful to see the names of people I dealt with in my (almost) almost 10 years. And even though it’s been over 5 years since I left, I still think of my co-workers and customers fondly.

    All the best.

    Paul Burchfield

  16. John Donaldson

    # 19 Paul

    Hi Paul

    Great to see that you are still lurking. Twenty years is a long time. My wife (who is non-genie) wants to know when I will finish the family tree (silly girl).

    Have a great Christmas

    John D

  17. John Donaldson

    # 18 David

    Currently, the text won’t wrap around an image in FTM 2010 books.

    The developers are well aware of the issue and I hope it can be addressed, as it dretracts from the book and is not in keeping with how books are expected to look.

    John D

  18. Carol A. H.

    I owned the first version Banner Blue software of FTM. It was $69.95 on the 5 and 1/4 disks and my first program. It was an ok program. It certainly beat all the others available at costs of hundreds of dollars like Roots and their many versions.

    I switched to PAF shortly afterward. Roots had a very steep learning curve. I owned a few versions of it, and while trying to learn it kept using PAF to record my research. I have owned several versions of FTM / FTW and still use PAF. I have versions 2005, 2008 and 2009 of FTW. I don’t want to spend my limited time learning software when I have one which I have customized for me and works just great. I can always GEDCOM my file into anything else.

    I have used very complicated software in the circuit design industry and mechanical drafting. That was all the complication I needed in my computer life. I wanted to find my ancestors!

    I find the newer versions too slow and I can’t afford to upgrade my hardware continuously. However for folks with newer, faster and bigger computers, especially the newest models, FTW is probably the way to go. I know several folks who use the older version of FTW; tried the new versions but go back to the 2005 version and won’t use the newer versions. I’m really a dinosaur using PAF but the price is right—free—and it is very stable without problems. Great for teaching beginners in genealogy. Then later they can spend money. Drawbacks: you should have a plan how you will document your sources before you start. That is not so easy but anyone can get free help online, by going to the nearest FHC, or using that old thing called the telephone. Oops! We have new telephones: cell phones!

    Maybe someday there will be a version of FTW that is pared down to just the bare necessities with the ability to add some modular utilities and not use others. That would interest me.

    Off topic: How can anyone have about 150,000 people in a tree? How can they document that many people? The answer: Most trees on Ancestry have no sources. But they are good for a hint. Then I do my own documentation.

  19. Marsha Smith

    Why haven’t you made a report writer so we can set up our own reports. I was able to do more in older versions but certainly it’s time for a report writer.

  20. Jack Wilton

    Family Tree Maker is a nice program, I’ve owned 5 or 6 versions now, am also a member of, used to have world membership. Is too bad it’s necessasary to buy every version in order to acquire upgrades. Just purchased FTM 2009 9 months ago, 2010 came out and finally can download images with program. 28.00 + is almost full price by the time you pay for shipping really should offer upgrades for regular longtime customers at a better price.

  21. John #24

    To me a custom report writer is one where you can create a document and then export in a format that you can further ‘tweak’ or add images into the text, e.g. DOC or RTF.

    I haven’t managed to find this option when exporting a book in the latest versions of FTM – am I looking in the wrong places?


  22. John Bradburn

    Congratulations to all at FTM on reaching your twentieth anniversary! I still have the Broderbund set of five 3.5 inch diskettes from 1996 that my first FTM (version 3.2) came on, in 1996 I think.
    I really would be happy if you would reinstate one very useful feature which was on the earlier (pre-rewrite) versions of FTM but has since disappeared. That is the ability to create a pedigree (ancestor) chart which also shows the siblings of each ancestor. They were not shown in full tree format which would be too complicated (like the new all-in-one chart!)but they were listed in a block next to the ancestor whose siblings they were. This chart was just a variant of the standard vertical pedigree chart, chosen, if I remember, by checking a tick-box in the left hand selection frame. The only way to view siblings of ancestors on FTM today is to do descendant charts for every early ancestor and this is not a good substitute. Please reinstate this option to the ancestor charts! If you cannot locate this type of chart, I have examples which I could scan and e-mail to you.
    Regards, John Bradburn

  23. Bill Scott

    I have been using FTM since the beginning wwhen I found it supplied what I wanted rather than my own paltry effort. It has been very satisfactory up till 2008 issue which I am afraid had some rather basic omissions such as people of the same name not being listed in chronoligical order. Even more drastic, however, was the 2009 issue with its tragic kinship report which gave gobbledegook results on “relationship” and even more so on “all relationships”. The latest patch seems to have corrected the direct relationship but not the multiple one, which still gives absolutely stupid results.

    W G

  24. I’m not sure how long I been involved with Family Tree Maker, it is at least 15 years. I’ve looked at other programs, and they can’t compare to FTM.
    Thanks for the improvements over the years.

  25. John Donaldson

    # 26 TonyC

    That is exactly what the custom report does

    I assume that you can find the CR in the Publish workspace?

    After you create and save your CR, export it to your required format using the Share button

    John D

  26. John Donaldson

    # 27 John

    The vertical ancestor chart has an option to allow you to include siblings of the primary individual

    John D

  27. John Donaldson

    # 32 Tony

    Sort of yes but the RFT is “very ropey”

    The book can of course be exported as PDF

    John D

  28. Hi John #33
    I found the ‘share’ button, it was ‘hidden’ well away from all the other buttons 🙂

    Unless you have a full copy of Adobe Acrobat you can’t insert images or edit a PDF file and as you say – the RTF file is strange looking in the way it seems to utilize tables for some of the text.

    I guess we are supposed to use the ACOM publishing site 😉


  29. dlpasti

    I must be the strange one out there! I detest ftm 2010! I want 06 that works with windows 7. I don’t want it to look like ancestry—I’ve already deleted everything I put there because I didn’t like that format……

  30. Jeanne Maschari

    Congratulations on your anniversary. I have been a FTM user since the very beginning. I love the program and can’t imagine how I would have spent my time over the last 20 years without it. I have met many distant family members and made many friends because of using this software.

    Thanks and keep it up!

    Jeanne Maschari

  31. John Donaldson

    # 35 dipasti

    I understand that if you install the Vista patch to FTM 2006 it will be fully functional (including PDF export) in W 7.

    I haven’t tried it though.

    John D

  32. Peggy Baer

    I use Apple computers and have always used Reunion for genealogy. Is there an Apple version of FTM? What are the basic differences between the two programs? How difficult or easy would it be to switch from Reunion to FTM?

  33. John Donaldson

    # 38 Peggy

    Reunion is a fine Genealogy program which should satisfy your needs.

    Not sure anyone can answer the basic differences question as both programs are extremely rich in features.

    Perhaps the only key difference is that FTM, being owned by, can seamlessly search and merge paid database records into FTM.

    If you wished to use FTM on your Apple you would need to install a Windows emulator like “Parallels” then a copy of Windows.

    Personally I don’t think that is worth the hassle.

    Reunion can create a GEDCOM file that FTM can read.

    Maybe one day will develop an “FTM for the Mac” then it will be a real competition between Reunion and FTM, but until that occurs, (if it ever does), either stay with Reunion on your Mac but if you are realy keen to try FTM, pick up a PC and load FTM onto it.

    John D

  34. Lynn

    Michelle &, Congratulations.

    Although my interest in family genealogy has only peeked in the past last five years–I am pleased with my decision to use FTM five years ago to help me with this quest. I have been able to combine numerous family records that go back centuries as well as find additional interesting details and expand the tree beyond those family records/knowledge through the integration of FTM with Ancestry’s website.

    I look forward to FTM and other offerings continuing to be enhanced over the next 20 years.

  35. Tyler Rasmussen

    When will the FTM SDK finally be released? The new FTM has been built to have plugins since in 2008 release, and we have yet to see an SDK! With the 2010 release plus update, FTM should be stable and there should have been time to finish the development of the SDK.

  36. Mark Devlin

    Paul #13

    I agree with you 100% Paul. Even though I only spent 5 years working with Family Tree Maker, it was a fun ride. I loved the people we worked with and those we helped and served.

    Best wishes FTM.

  37. Rose Olson

    I was using one of the old family tree maker programs which I found
    very easy to deal with. changed to
    2010 a week ago –what a shock.
    totally different and I don’t know
    where to start. I have transferred
    all my files to it BUT. I went to
    order the official guide for 2010
    and found out it cannot be mailed
    to Canada. What do I do now as I
    want to use new FTM.

  38. I am very impressed ! I recentely purchased family treemaker 2010. my niece will be helping me to install it. the features are very interesting. right now i have family treemaker 16, it still works on the site. but i would like to bring it up to date with the new version. we recently upgraded our operating system on our computer to windows 7. anyway Happy Birthday Ancestry.Com ! Let’s see another 20 yrs ! Oh and thank you for helping me to find out who i really am !

  39. John Donaldson

    # 45 Rose

    Have you tried ordering it through Amazon?

    It is a good book, about 460 pages or so.

    If you are really stuck, Victorian GUM Inc in Melbourne, Australia has it in stock. It could be mailed to you.

    There is a downloadable Geeting started guide on this link

    It also has links to webinars and tutorials. You also have tutorials under help in your FTM 2010

    John D

  40. Ray Boutwell

    I wish 2010 had a columnar custom report like Ver16 which had the capability of adjusting the column width. It also had the capability of putting any fact in any column including the sources and places. It would be nice to have a column which could give the total number of media relating to a person which in turn would point out which people did not have media. FTM is developing into a very capable application. Congrats

  41. Kathy Marie


    24 Written by:
    John Donaldson


    Posted on:
    December 15, 2009 at 7:12 pm
    # 23 Marsha

    This is alredy in FTM 2008/09/10 Custom Repots in the Publish Workspace

    John D




  42. Kathy Marie



    49 Written by:
    Ray Boutwell

    Posted on:
    December 21, 2009 at 11:27 am
    I wish 2010 had a columnar custom report like Ver16 which had the capability of adjusting the column width. It also had the capability of putting any fact in any column including the sources and places. It would be nice to have a column which could give the total number of media relating to a person which in turn would point out which people did not have media. FTM is developing into a very capable application. Congrats

  43. John Donaldson

    # 50 Cathy

    I think that my reply was accurate in that the correspondent was essentially asking where the custom report was in FTM 2010.

    The question was not about how good or bad it is, hence I did not comment in this area.

    I agree that the CR needs work, and I am sure that this will be addressed in a future enhancement.

    Incidentally, posting in CAPS generally implies “shouting”. I am not sure if that was your intention.

    John D

  44. Lynn

    As you determine and prioritze future enhancements, consider an iPhone App. Although I believe other enhancements are much more important, iPhone App would further open the possibilities of how, when and where individuals could use offerings as well as share them with others.
    … Sent to you via my iPhone

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