I am officially on Christmas vacation for the year, or as much as the EIC of a fairly largish website is ever allowed to be on vacation (which is to say, I’m still on the hook for a hefty amount of work every day, but I get to do it from someone else’s home). This means that today, or a day very close to today, is the 15th anniversary of this website.
That makes me feel pretty old!
There are a fair few of you who have been with this site for more than a decade and for some inexplicable reason continue reading it every day; some of you even send money every month to help offset the cost of the server and forums. You’re good people. But none of you have been with the site from the beginning, because in the beginning this site was terrible and unknown and I would be happy when it was seen by anyone else. I would occasionally check my site stats (occasionally being… daily?) and when it reflected a page view that wasn’t my own, I felt triumphant. Of course, in 1996, one page view represented a significant chunk of the Internet’s traffic.
I vaguely wish to repost some of the content from the original version of the site, but it’s mercifully been lost to the ages. Not even the WayBack Machine has bothered to archive the first few years of GeoCities’ CollegePark Quad page 4831. Pity. It would make for an excellent museum piece for how not to create a website in 1996 (this information could be relevant again if one of COPA’s progeny passes and knocks the Internet back to its equivalent of the bronze age).
Back when 56K dial-up was a luxury and GeoCities’ servers buckled under the strain of tens of thousands of people clamoring to make use of its luxurious 2 megabytes of free Internet hosting, I opened my page with a self-created animated GIF of a frog bursting into flames (much to its surprise), which then dissolved to say, “Welcome to ToastyFrog.” It was a 100K graphic file. That may not seem like much now, but at the time it took a full minute to load… on a good day.
Not that it wasn’t worth the wait! It was a pretty rad GIF, if I do say so myself. I wish I still had it around just to see if I could download it in less than a second now.
There wasn’t much to speak of behind the fiery frog firewall, mind you. I posted a fairly vapid intro page link to half-written articles about my current obsessions at the time: Ranma 1/2, Star Wars, and (gasp) no video games at all. Not that I wasn’t playing video games! Much of what I used the Internet for was to keep up with game news at handy sites like N64.com (later IGN64, later just IGN); it just never occurred to me that I would have something to write about games, much less that anyone would want to read what I had to say about them.
I kept plugging away at the site and eventually decided to go for broke and make something real of it, but that was many years later. Well, a little more than two years. That seemed like a long time back then; not like now, when I can feel time pouring away in a torrent to be replaced by mortality. Ah, to be young and have time enough to create 100K GIFs of combusting frogs.
Well, anyway, thanks to everyone who has read some form of this site over the past decade and a half. My new job has taken a measurable toll on the time I have available to produce content here and it’s unavoidably in something of a decline, but I fully expect some iteration of this site to be up and running and eating my free time in another 15 years. Thanks in advance to the few of you who intend to stick around that long.