History of These Sites
A few of you have written in wondering about the origins of our websites. I’ve written a short summary and a longwinded, if self-serving version about how Super70s.com and Awesome80s.com came to be:
I created a Web page on the Pet Rock in late 1994. Over the next 3 1/2 years I slowly created a number of other pages on memorable icons of the 1970s and 1980s. In late 1998 I purchased the domains Super70s.com and Awesome80s.com and created the sites you are reading today. The site has gone from roughly 100 pages in early 1999 to over a thousand in 2001. We reached the 10,000 page mark in 2004 and, thanks in part to a massive baseball section, we are over 400,000 pages as of April, 2006. That does not mean, however, that there will necessarily be 500,000 pages by 2008, but I’ll do my best!
The story of how these two websites (Awesome80s.com and Super70s) came about starts out in early 1994. I was working for the Evil Empire in Bellevue, Washington and walked by a co-worker whose cube was always filled with O’Reilly and Associates books and who had introduced me to Usenet the year before. He waved me over excitedly and said, “Check this out!”
We had both created personal multimedia CDROMs using Microsoft’s Multimedia Viewer 2.0 program for fun (mine was a bore-fest on the eruption of Mount St. Helens) and what he showed me that day was revolutionary, even if I didn’t immediately recognize it.
It may be hard to believe now, but in 1993, multimedia CDROMs ruled the computing world and cost a comparable fortune. Microsoft’s first-ever encyclopedia – Encarta 1.0 – shipped that year for $395!
What he showed me was a program called Mosaic with a primitive page showing the names and product logos of all our software products (Word, Excel, etc.). The page was not nearly as well formatted as those in our multimedia CDROMs. Blissfully ignorant of what I was witnessing, I said, “So?” He then explained to me that he was viewing a page stored on a computer at the college he attended and then showed the “source” of the page showing how simple it was to create compared to Multimedia Viewer (or anything else for that matter).
In the weeks that followed, we talked about Mosaic and what it meant to Microsoft and the industry. We agreed that if this tool caught on, overpriced CDROMs would be a thing of the past and all the books in the world could be put on-line and hyperlinked throughout to one another. If that was possible, anything was. The key was that it could work on virtually any computer and that as an open standard, no company could charge a royalty for the use of the technology.1
It also was clear that Microsoft managers were not taking this new technology seriously. It was, for example, just about impossible to get web access from inside the company (my request was denied). I left Microsoft and the Pacific Northwest in early 1994 for Silicon Valley and ended up working for a company that made Windows run on Macs and Unix machines. I lived less than a mile away from a small office that was the headquarters of Mosaic Communications (later renamed Netscape). I continued to follow the developments at Netscape as we started to lose employees to them.
As was the custom in the mid-90s our company had a directory on our web site for employees to put personal web pages. That lasted until someone started posting pictures of scantily clad women on his page. I’m sure similar stories are why that fad did not last much past beyond the end of 1995.
My web page was a tribute to the Pet Rock, which had come up in conversation with a coworker earlier in the week. (He joked that a donut he found under his new cube was now solid as a rock and that he was starting a fad – the Pet Donut – just like the Pet Rock of the 1970s. It had been nearly 20 years since I had thought about that fad, and later that week – after consulting a book on fads at the library – I created what would later become the first page of Super70s.com.)
After successfully passing the Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer exams in 1995, I created <span ’70-53:=”” the=”” ms=”” tcp=”” ip=”” exam=”” page’style=”color=#000099;”>a site to help others pass the exams and placed it here: http://www.Best.com/~patmo. It managed to win a coveted Geek Site of the Day in November 1996!2 (In fact nearly a decade later, you can still find links on other’s pages to my long-since-abandoned site at Google.)
I also created other sites and even worked for a few years for that rarest breed of 20th Century companies: a profitable dotcom (Briefing.com).
There was a time in my life that I wanted to be the next Charlie Rose or Terry Gross and interview interesting people five days a week. Hence my work on AllInterviews.com. I never did do very much with that site though I put to use what little I learned in 2001 when I interviewed Michael Dukakis for Awesome80s.com.
I also toyed with the idea of a site I was going to call AllParodies.com. It was to provide parodies of certain websites. Fortunately, one look at The Onion put an end to my sophomoric efforts before they ever really got started.
With the Internet really starting to take off, and with a bruised backside from kicking myself over not buying Business.com when I had the chance,3 I began looking for my $1 billion niche market. I settled on an idea of providing the ability to email any page from any website but without actually having to set up an account. This feature is common now, but was rare then and wasn’t easy to implement.
The domain name for this project was EmailThis.com. The folks at ClickAbility.com made me an offer for rights to the domain name at the height of the Internet Bubble in 1999, and I’ve never regretted accepting it. Apparently they haven’t either, as they continue to provide such a service to CNN.com and others.
But I digress. I had started to realize that a good percentage of people my age and younger got most of our information from the Web and that what our generation would eventually need was a website to bring back all the memories of our collective childhoods. I also thought that with my broad interests and technical know-how, I could pull it off.
I started calling my sites The Super70s and The Awesome80s and got positive feedback from the colleagues I showed it to.
Just after Christmas 1998, I decided I had enough pages for a pair of real sites and purchased the domains Super70s.com and Awesome80s.com and we celebrate each December 28th as our anniversary. I am very fortunate that someone did not snap up those names in the interim.
The rest is, as they say, history.
Thanks for visiting!
Notes: 1. Our initial concern, believe it or not, was not our benevolent employer, but Compton’s New Media. They had recently revealed they had been awarded a patently ridiculous patent broadly covering multimedia itself! They all but threatened to sue for royalties on virtually every CDROM published. An appeal for sanity to the Patent Office eventually put the vast legal staff at Compton’s in their proper place.
2. Sadly, Scott Ruthfield took down his GSOTD web site some time around 1997. I was able to find the listing via the Wayback Machine. Here’s what he had to say about my site: “OK, so I’m giving free publicity to a company. But you’ve gotta hope there’s not much competition in this area, and they have that neat beep.” I have no recollection of what the “neat beep” reference is, but I wish I did!
3. We were all lamenting the fact that only two or three years earlier we could have bought hundreds of domain names, such as Pets.com or News.com, for a hundred dollars each and could have sold them a few years later for thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Hindsight…