The Evolution of my Website

History of my online world

Ten years is a pretty amazing figure when you’re talking about the age of a website; after all, the Internet only became commercially mainstream around 25 years ago, and even then, computers were still slow and expensive and the internet was just a tool for big corporations and hardcore geeks.

While my ‘online web presence’ doesn’t technically turn 10 until early 2005, visitors to my web site, in all its versions, breeds and flavours has, just recently (at the time of writing; in 2007), hit & passed the magical 5,000,000 mark.

Five million visitors is a pretty cool milestone, but my online presence hasn’t always been a straightforward one. You see, the domain name ‘pudmenzky.com’ wasn’t registered until the year 2000, and prior to that, my web ‘page’ (and eventually ‘site’) had been operating off the back of my dad’s University web hosting space, on free ‘Geocities’ and later ‘Fortune City’ web space (riddled with banner ads of course – back in the days when they used to work…) and eventually off the back of my high-school website.

Today, and since 2000, my online presence (as such) has lived under its’ own domain name, and sits on one of my 3 web servers in a freezing cold datacentre – in the heart of the Brisbane CBD.

 

The past

Looking back in time from a technological angle is a task that will pretty much guarantee laughs. Take this example – screenshots of any random website in an “Internet for Dummies” book published back in 1990… funny is almost an understatement! But as trends change and programming languages improve, so do the results.

Software becomes easier to use, sites are easier to manage and the basic knowledge of design principles is seamlessly passed down to the younger generations… in today’s world, kids in Grade 8, of all places, are learning HTML skills – even Flash and other multimedia & web development applications… christ, when I was in year 8, I got to use a typewriter – tell that to any Grade 8’er today, and they’ll either laugh at you or ask you what a typewriter is.

So join me for a trip down memory lane – right here, right now… to take a look at some of the funny faces that my online presence has had over the years; almost 10 years, to be exact…

 

Version 1 (1994 – 1995)

Sadly, I don’t have a screenshot (or copy) of my first-ever webpage… all I remember is that is had a plain grey-coloured background, Times New Roman black text and a few horizontal lines here and there… not bad for a 12 year old boy on a 286 computer!

With Windows 3.1 about to be taken over by Windows ’95 (even though it was eventually released in 1996), back in those days HTML coding was done by hand… a <BR> (line break) here and a <B> (bold) there.

My web page was simple – everything was on the one page because dad was still teaching me HTML code and I hadn’t learnt how to put a hyperlink in yet! My program of choice for HTML editing was the MS DOS text editor because it was both reliable, fast and stable (LOL).

Experimenting with HTML code was the best (and most enjoyable) part for me, because unlike programming with most other languages, HTML gives you an instant on-screen result – no errors or debugging, no confusion. It’s an easy language to understand if you get into it.

HTML really got me interested in programming in general – even though I only went on to learn more HTML, and a bit of PHP – but hey, it’s a start and I have my dad to thank for that! 🙂


Version 2 (1995 – 1998)

I’ll be the first one to admit that this design looks… pretty bad. This incarnation of my website featured 5 pages, textured backgrounds, blue hyperlinks (eww!), animated GIFs and a vast array of font styles, colours & sizes! By this stage, I was just starting to enter my early teens and was discovering the joy of owning my own computer… a 386! Most weekends were spent tinkering with hardware like memory and my whopping 40MB (yes – megabyte, not gigabyte) hard drive, the memory, software programs and the like.

I had visited a friend (Scott’s) house regularly after school to play games on his computer with him (he had a much faster one) – Duke 1 & 2, Commander Keen… they all ran so much faster on his 486!

He also had a 9600 baud modem and had been dialling into BBS’s (Bulletin Board Service’s)… kinda like version 1 of the internet, but limited to a few colours in a text-only mode using a terminal session (go HyperTerminal!!). And this, ladies and gentlemen, is where I saw my first naked lady (who wasn’t related to me) …yup, a tiny 4 colour Elle McPherson image that took 30 commands and 30 minutes to download.

I remember once ‘borrowing’ a 9600 baud modem (I was in the Computer Club and they were ‘upgrading’ the internet connection at school) and installing it on my computer… in an attempt to download my own version of Elle, I’m assuming? I snuck into my parents’ study, unplugged the cord from one of the telephone handsets and ran the 20m lead into my room – into the back of the modem, and attempted to dial into a Brisbane BBS (Bulletin Board Service).

Unfortunately, mum happened to be on the other phone talking to Grandma, and was wondering what the bleeping noises were… mum didn’t know what they meant or what they did… but needless to say, that was the end of my first attempt to get online.

website1

website1b

 

Version 3 (1998 – 1999)

My design & HTML skills had improved over the last few years, and so did the software I was using! I progressed from MS-DOS editor to a program called Backstage, and eventually HotDog Professional. I had also begun using the early versions of a program called Fireworks (which I still use today – only, the latest version).

As you can see, my layout skills were much better here than in Version 2, but I still don’t know what the picture of the fox was doing there? None the less, the star effect looked good (at the time) and as you can see, while the pages in the index are nothing compared to what they are today, it’s certainly a massive jump from the 5 pages that made up my website – Version 2.

website2

 

Version 4 (1999 – 2000)

This version looks quite similar to the one above in Version 3, but this was more of a makeover, as opposed to a complete overhaul. As you can probably notice, the star effect was flipped, the pointless picture of the fox was removed, and I was beginning to learn how to use curves & gradiented lines in Fireworks.

At the same time, the stars were changed from black to purple, and an inner-bevel effect of some kind was added. Pictures were added down the side, the links were moved and the news section was modified to suit the new design.

website3

 

Version 5 (2000 – 2001)

The updates were happening more frequently now – probably because I had a modem and computer of my own, and was dialling up to the internet more regularly now. I had also begun work at an ISP at this stage.

This site reflected my desire for use of the “tabbed” effect. As you can see, I also had a webcam and was taking a lot more photos… of myself, and my friends. This particular design only lasted a few months, before it was quickly replaced with Version 6… unfortunately the floating tabs caused problems for smaller screens (17″ screen’s weren’t really “standard” at this time).

website4

 

Version 6 (2001 – 2002)

This particular design was the first of a few in its’ style. The site now featured much, much more content so a redesign was required to improve menus and site navigation.

Flash was used in portions of this design to make it look a little.. flashier (no pun intended)… the images at the bottom scrolled across and the design made use of larger background wallpapers, thanks to the improvement of internet speeds to everyone, in general.

Transparency played a big part in this design too – as you can see from the see-through, yet darkened floating text boxes down the right hand side.

website5

 

Version 7 (2002 – 2004)

This design was similar to that in Version 6, only with a new background wallpaper (one I actually created myself in Bryce 3D). The menu & icons remained the same, only the horizontal picture scroll was expanded a little, and made vertical.

I also had a live webcam stream (photo) added to the homepage, in an attempt to draw people to the live webcam. This particular design lasted a good 2 or so years, in its’ various incarnations (and minor redesigns).

website6

 

Version 8 (2004 – early 2007)

By 2004, the old menu system from Version 5 (year 2000) was getting old, and the site had grown too big to manage using the current system – so the site was completely shut down for an entire weekend and redesigned.

This designed features a bit of scripting which made it easier for me to update my site… add a new menu item, and it gets added to every single page. Change a colour or the banner in the header, and it changes everywhere – instantaneously.

While this design featured a Flash masthead primarily used for [internal] website advertising, it’s an improvement on previous attempts at advertising with standard website advertising banners.

website7

 

Version 9 (early 2007)

This version of the website featured the most stylesheeting ever used on this site… there are stylesheets for banners, visited-links, external links, forms, etc.

Scripting has also been improved from previous versions and it allowed me to more-thoroughly control the website from a management perspective. Updates can be performed a lot quicker than in previous versions – although it’s still not the database driven website I one day want it to be. Google Ads have also been added to the header area, but these are only there to help pay for future database additions.

website9

 

Version 10 (mid 2007 – mid 2009)

As per above, but with a new masthead I created in Photoshop (can you tell I’m teaching myself Photoshop? 😉

site10

 

Version 11 (mid 2009 to current)

Version 11 is the site you see right now – a WordPress enabled site to make use of better database technologies and a system that’s much easier and faster to update! Let me know what you think!

 

Your thoughts…

Be sure to leave me a comment below if you found this funny, amusing, entertaining, etc… 😛

 

2 Comments

  1. Sunday February 13, 2011  2:53 pm by Sarah Reply

    Wow, it's fascinating to see your evolution! I'd say you're meant to be a web designer - you've learned it by going the whole hog, pretty much since there were web designers. :)

    This part really resonated with me: "Experimenting with HTML code was the best (and most enjoyable) part for me, because unlike programming with most other languages, HTML gives you an instant on-screen result – no errors or debugging, no confusion. It’s an easy language to understand if you get into it."

    That's exactly how I felt as a 17 year old when I first learned HTML of web tutorials. It was so absorbing!

    • Sunday February 13, 2011  3:33 pm by Andy Reply

      I'm glad you liked it, Sarah =) I used to love tinkering with computers and websites when I was a kid... still do, but because it's more mainstream and "common" now, it's not nearly as much fun as it used to be - as I'm sure you'd agree. It had this whole "underground" vibe to it back then. I miss those days... :-)

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