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Our Web Tenth Anniversary (Aluminum Gifts, please)

Somewhere in the hustle and bustle of this month I missed a significant milestone. A tenth anniversary worthy of a gift of aluminium (this would be nice but this will do) as tradition goes.

It was sometime in October 1993 at our Ocotillo Technology Showcase (“Expose Yourself to Technology”). Demonstrations likely included laser discs, HyperCard, Toolbook, our text based Electronic Forum, and I think I was pushing Gopher.

It was during that day, my colleague Jim Walters of Phoenix College handed me a floppy disk with the word “Mosaic” scribbled on it. He just said, “Alan, you are into the internet, check out this program.”

It rocked my world and changed everything I was doing with technology (Thanks, Jim!)

I had tried a piece of the world wide web (in those old days just saying “the web” was not sufficient). I think it was a simple Macintosh app called “MacWWW” more or less a Lynx-like text browser except you could click on the links (it was all text). I was un-impressed with all the linked documents on particle physics and such, and went back to the Gopher server I had been building up.

But Mosaic changed all that in one click. It felt different from the start. As I learned from NCSA’s tutorial about the underlying code known as HTML, I quickly grabbed that it might be an easer way to create hyperlinked multimedia content, as (a) it was simple to write (no software needed); (b) it was cross platform (I could stop trying to make Toolbook versions of all my HyperCard apps); and (c) most of all, someone like a faculty member could (theoretically) create content and distribute it on a floppy disk.

In about 2-3 weeks I had come across Chuck Shotton’s free web server MacHTTP and installed it on a Mac SE/30 sitting on a table out in the hallway, just plugged into our network.

Being a geologist by training, this first web server in all of our Maricopa system was called “Hakatai” (explained), (which still works!).

On January 15, 1994 we listed our site on the NCSA What’s New Page and saw our hits for the month of January climb high over the 1000 mark and brought the first external visitors (including Hong Kong, Italy, Norway, and England) as seen in our first month’s server log. Snapshots show our first home page as viewed through the Mac and the Windows versions of Mosaic.

In a fit of sarcasm I wrote up a page on the so called “Information Super Highway” (By the way, the freeway discussed there was finally built about 6 years ago).

In July 1994, I presented Providing Structured Multimedia Learning Environments- Mosaic for the Internet at the Association for Applied Interactive Multimedia Conference, in steamy Charleston, South Carolina. It was here I tried to formulate some basic (now truly elementary) ways the web could be used by educators and my first stab at a web-based presentation. Can you think of other technology or content from 9 years ago that still exist or still work?

In the spring of 1994 we ran our first workshop on how to create web pages, for a group of teachers at South Mountain Community College. Writing HTML developed from the first 8 lessons then to the present version, and is one of our most popular and recognized sites. Our home page has a few more information links now.

We also got a nice plug with images and text over several pages of John December’s 1994 book, The World Wide Web Unleashed.

A second announcement to the NCSA What’s new page brought a large increase in the numbers of visitors to MCLI, and justified our request for a new web server as shown in the histogram of server activity between December 1993 and November 1994. Another of our busiest web sites, Director Web (still alive here), resources for users of this multimedia software, appeared for the first time.

Version 2 of Writing HTML was given an A+ award from the ‘Net Magazine (URL long gone) unfortunately appearing in the issue featuring a cover story of “sex online”!

More of our illustrious history is spelled out on our server info site. We’ve been trying to count the web hits continuosly since the first web log (that is when “web log” was just a log of web activity), which if you believe me (and maybe you should be doubtful) has been 139,783,677 hits since December 1, 1993, despite 3 server moves, we kept counting.

I started cobbling together a collection of web sites for educators, first as MCLI Hot Links, then as our first searchable link collection, 451 F (I thought the name was clever), and ultimately as our Bag of URLs (still going).

I do wish I had done a bit more archiving of things as we went, but it was full speed ahead. Most of the artifacts linked from here come from old web site backups I burned to CD (using a $6000 1X Panasonic burner!)

I am glad at least that a good number of our old crusty web sites are still there for posterity sake or at least my own amusement. Ten years of being on the web sounds quite heavy. Good thing it is still fun.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at 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.


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