ODonnellWeb is 20
Posted on 12/31/2015 in misc
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. We lived in GA so it was probably humid and mild. What I do remember is that my wife was 7+ months pregnant with our daughter, so we weren't going anywhere to celebrate the passing of the year. She retired to bed well before midnight, leaving me alone with a computer and a lot of homebrew. That is never a safe thing to do.
I had been poking around the web a bit over the preceding few months, and had been thinking about learning HTML. In fact, I decided right then that I wanted a page online that year. I had about 4 hours. 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" where trying to access the page on my 28.8 modem. It was 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 one silly computer command.
I think the URL for that site was http://www.america.net/~greenegg. That page has been lost to the mists of time, or something. The Internet Archive didn't capture any of my tilde account sites. The first ODonnellWeb.com version from 1998 is missing the images. This version, from Sept 1999, is the earliest decent screenshot I can find.
I bought the ODonnellWeb domain in 1998. I'm not a digital pack rat and don't have copies of the early sites. That is probably a good thing, otherwise you'd be able to read my impassioned defenses of the Dole 96 presidential campaign. Yep, I was a Republican back then. I started blogging in early 2001 with Blogger, quit due to Blogger never actually working, and picked it up again later that year with self-hosted Greymatter. It stuck that time.
Three months after launching that first silly web page I leveraged my rudimentary technical skills into a sales job with a start up that would ultimately be the first web design firm to go public. After that company failed I moved to VA to join another startup that eventually failed.
20 years later I'm still working on the web.