My First “Homepage” and Email “Sigs” of Olde

Last month, to mark the 20th anniversary of the World Wide Web, CERN placed the first web site back online at its original address. This got me thinking of my early experiences on the Internet and, soon after (when it arrived), the web.

My first direct interaction with the Internet began in college when I was given my initial accounts in the department of Applied Physics and Computer Science at Christopher Newport University. I was given a UNIX account in the Sun lab as well as an account on the school’s PR1ME system back in 1991. On those systems (mainly the Suns), I used email, Gopher, Archie, Usenet, FTP and IRC. There was no web. (And Hotline came later — 2nd rule of Hotline: you DO NOT talk about Hotline.)

One day I was in the lab and a fellow student was showing another this new thing called Mosaic, one of the very first web browsers. I recall him talking to his friend and describing it, and the World Wide Web to which it provided access, as being “basically the Internet for the lazy.”

I played around with Mosaic in the lab and then, later, at home on my 486 DOS/Windows 3.1 machine via my first SLIP account, which provided minimal web hosting. (Netscape was a welcome arrival in 1994.) It was on that account that I setup my first “homepage” back in 1995.

So, CERN’s recent move with the world’s first website reminded me that old time is still a-flying and that there might still be a chance to grab a copy of my first website from The Wayback Machine. After some searching, I found it — most of it — and pulled it down onto my server. I patched things up a little bit and I’ve now got a live copy of my “homepage” as it existed back in 1997, which is almost exactly the same as it was back in 1995 when it first went online.

So, have a look. (And definitely some laughs…)

Yep, that’s it. It was clear from the moment Tim Berners-Lee laid down his first lines of code on that NeXT Cube that I was destined to rule the web.

While I was at it — sharing the olde — it occurred to me that I have an archive of all of the email sent and received through my old college accounts (Pine, Elm — good times) for 1994-1995. I started scanning through that, as well as Google Groups (early Usenet posts), to get a copy of (most?) every email / Usenet sig I ever used over the past 20 years. I found quite a few iterations and I present them to you, with a blush on my face, below.

Ah, the much younger me. If only I had copies of the various UNIX .finger files I had in place over the years…

I hope you enjoy this bit of nostalgia. It’s been fun to put together and a somewhat shocking (jarring?) walk down memory lane. Oy.

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5 Responses to My First “Homepage” and Email “Sigs” of Olde

  1. George says:

    Ah, the internet before the web. I remember ftp’ing to, and looking over its trove of software. Unfortunately, I no longer have the O’Reilly Associates The Whole Internet Guide and Catalog 1.0, with no mention–as I recall it–of the web. Probably I left it behind when switching jobs in 1996.

    Around that time, I had rewritten a co-worker’s guide to troubleshooting something–modem banks?–using “info”, the GNU hypertext system. I demoed it to my boss, who seemed only mildly interested. When I saw Mosaic, I ran the guide through an info-to-html converter, demoed again, and made a satisfying impression (not that we ever converted the rest of our documentation to hypertext of any form, that I recall).

  2. George says:

    I regret to say that the link for “squirrel hazing” is broken, though on the other hand now I know what Enya and Liz Phair look like. Once at the University of Denver I did see a young woman tell off a young man who had just thrown a book at a squirrel, not hitting it, but causing it to run for cover; the young man was not repentant and talked back. Had I not been on my way somewhere I might’ve lingered to listen to them quarrel.

  3. Howard says:

    As I commented on #vc, my first Internet account was in 1994, in Norfolk, VA. It was a dial-up account into a Unix system (386BSD actually). I didn’t get my first GUI Internet account until 1995. I spent most of my time telneting into other systems, just checking them out. I also did a lot of ftp.

    Reading your post brought back a lot of good memories.

  4. Retrocosm says:

    Good read, it all seemed so clandestine and counter-cultural to me back then, now it’s all boringly mainstream.

    Gotta love those first websites, great recreation. I still maintain my original ISP account from 1993 and still host a web page on the original address:-

    Can’t believe it’s been 20 years this year.

  5. Piku says:

    I didn’t get online until 1997 (the same year I got my first part-time job… and then my own private phone line) since using The Phone was an expensive past-time in the UK, especially if you wanted to stay online for six hours to download RedHat at 2k/sec :-)

    Sitting up till 3am reading various HOWTOs and figuring out how to make my Linux machine talk to my ISP was kind of fun. Sitting frustrated in 2002 waiting for my over-subscribed ISP to have a free line was less fun.

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