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Web Ten Years

This year marks a number of ten year anniversaries for the web site we created in December 1993 for my office, the Maricopa Center for Learning & Instruction (MCLI). This ran on a humble Macintosh SE/30 sitting on a table in the hallway— the very first web server in our organization, running what was then the free MacHTTP server software.

As a former geologist, all of our machines in our office had domain names chosen after minerals or rocks, and the original URL for our server was http://hakatai.mcli.dist.maricopa.edu/ (which still works). For those unfortunate enough not to have trained in geology, we have an explanation for what “hakatai” means.

It was 10 years ago tomorrow (January 15) that we submitted our site to the NCSA What’s New Page— this was at that time the one and only place to go to check out new web sites that were sprouting up like wildflowers. Some consider this the original notion of a weblog, a chronologically organized set of descriptions of web content elsewhere. Anyhow, if you scroll down to January 15, 1994, you will find us.

The page was just lovely, eh? This is very, very, Old School HTML, spun by hand, and viewed in the only and only available web browser, NCSA Mosaic:

mcli web site (mac browser)
MCLI web site circa 1994
(NCSA Mosaic for Mac)

mcli web site (mac browser)
MCLI web site circa 1994
(NCSA Mosaic for Windows)

The NCSA listing really boosted our accesses and visibility in the web world that was then pretty tiny. Before the listing on the NCSA What’s New site, the only access in our web server log were from within our organization, but after this, they started coming from outside (see this archive from our first month of web server activity, see I keep everything!). The first non-maricopa access was January 17, 1994 from the UK (dolphin.lancs.ac.uk), followed shortly by a few government labs, and early dot.com (saic.com), and look who visited at 7:30 PM on January 17 (david-halberstam.mit.edu), author David Halberstam clicking in from MIT. Wonder what he found.

The accesses continued to climb, 83 hits (Dec 1993), 1111 (January 1994), 2174 (July 1994), and the big jump to 24405 in August 1994 (These days, we get about 100,000- 120,000 each day).

It is remarkable that technology content from 10 years ago can still be used, and we do have some (not so golden) oldies. I am a major opponent of link-rot, the residue by overzealous web site designers who re-arrange their sites (a good thing) but neglect to respect the fact that when they move directories, rename files, it renders invalid URLs for any listings in search engines or poor slobs who have bookmarked their sites.

We have either kept just about every web site created in the last 10 years, or used server re-directs to a new location, etc so as to reduce the number of hanging links. For example, a 1996 vintage web resource site “WWW Info Page” preserves its original URL (though automatically re-directs to a secondary server used for old content) and presents a “This Site is Dead” notice, though still allowing access to the original pages.

Fight Link-Rot today!

Anyhow, that was the wild, wild, web in the frontier days of 1994. We have been there non-stop since.

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.