Notepad and Netscape
New Year’s Eve 1-9-9-5
We have better plans tonight.
It was a cold and windy one, that night of Dec 31, 1995. OK, actually I have no idea if it was cold or windy. What I do remember is that my wife was 7+ months pregnant with out daughter, so we were not going anywhere to celebrate the passing of the year. She retired to bed well before midnight, leaving me alone with a computer and a fridge full of homebrew. That was a recipe for mischief.
I had been poking around the Internets for a few months so creating a web page seemed to be a great way to spend New Year’s Eve. In fact, I decided that I wanted a page online that year. Armed with nothing more than Notepad and Netscape 1.0 on a Windows 95 machine, I set off the figure out how to build a web page. It really wasn’t that difficult. The number of HTML tags back then was very limited, and I was able to look at the code on IBM.com and a few other sites to figure out how it all worked. Several hours later it was nearing midnight and I was ready to launch my first site. I read the scarce documentation available and deduced where exactly on the server I needed to FTP my file.
It didn’t work. The file was there, but I got a You are not authorized error when trying to access the page on my 14.4 modem. It was probably about 3 AM when I finally figured out the arcane syntax of the Unix CHMOD command and made the site available to the world. However, technically I was online by midnight. This would not be the last time I spent 3+ hours figuring out a single Linux command.
That original page has been lost to the mists of time, or something. However, it did look a lot like this.
I bought the ODonnellWeb domain in 1998. I’m not a digital pack rat. I don’t have copies of all the old sites. If you are interested, Archive.org seems to have me covered from early 1999.
Being online since 1995 has to make this one of the oldest continuously running websites on the Internet. That first silly web page had a surprising impact on my life. Several months later I parlayed my rudimentary web skills into a job with a tech start up, and 18 years later the Internet is still paying my bills.