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20 Years on the Web - Sun, 8 Jan 2017

Yesterday was 20 years from the day I put up my first official web pages in 1997. (Rats. I missed it. I should have had my web-iversary in my appointment calendar.)

I started webhosting using the services of Concentric.net who in 2000 were acquired by XO. My original web address was: www.concentric.net/~lkessler. The next year, 1998, I acquired my lkessler.com domain, when there were still some 8 letter .com domain names available.

My site started with several pages. I’ve recovered the earliest of my original pages from the Internet Archive:

This was my personal home page, as of January 25, 2000, which is about as far as the Internet Archive goes back:

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At that time, I was interested in Internet searching and was working on a desktop tool I was calling Alli-getter to do that. Google search was not launched until February 2002, so this was pre-Google, when good tools were needed for searching. I ended up not completing that and spent my spare time working on Behold instead.

I had several other pages up there as well on my initial launch. They included:

1. My Genealogy Pages (snapshot from Feb 17, 2001)

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2. My Family Research page (snapshot from Aug 18, 2000)

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3. My writeup of our Society’s Cemetery Photography Project. Back then, we did it with real film. (Snapshot from Aug 18, 2000)

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4. A primer for newbees to genealogy research (Aug 18, 2000)

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5. A home page for my genealogical society. (Oct 4, 1999)

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6. A page for my society’s Genealogical Institute (Dec 17, 1999)

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7. A search page of surnames in our Society’s database (Sept 3, 2000)

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8. My Stars, a page for my family’s interests (Feb 14, 2001):

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9. Your Last Stop, a page to remind me of Cheryl’s constant message to me (Feb 18, 2000):

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10. As well as the first cut of my Behold page, with the ideas simmering in my mind and several years before the first alpha release (snapshot Dec 28, 2002)

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All of those pages, except My Stars (which I merged into my lkessler.com home page) still exist. You can click on the above pictures to see what they look like today.

My original host Concentric used Windows servers, and I did some scripting using ASP (Active Server Pages), the Windows scripting language, to add some dynamics to my pages, e.g. redirection and page counting. The ASP pages required a .shtml extension with the “s” telling the server to preprocess the pages with ASP. That is the reason all my pages today on lkessler.com are still .shtml as I haven’t bothered to change the suffix to .html or .htm or .php.

In April 2000, when Concentric was sold, I left them for myhosting, a Canadian company. By about 2006, myhosting was not being all that great a host and I moved beholdgenealogy.com, gensoftreviews.com and jhcwc.org to IXWebhosting. They too did not work out at all, so in January 2009, I moved all my sites to Netfirms where they are today. That’s 4 webhosts in 20 years. Let me tell you, transferring is a pain, so don’t do it unless it’s necessary.

I’ve added lots of content to my pages over the years. I’m proud of what I’ve assembled which is a lot. I customized everything about my sites to be what I want, including hacking into the PHP code of Wordpress and bbPress to make my Behold blog and forum as well as GenSoftReviews be exactly what I wanted them to be.

The first web editor I used was HomeSite, developed in 1995 by Nick Bradbury. It was designed for direct editing, or “hand coding” of HTML. I liked it also because it Nick wrote it in Delphi, the programming language I used and still use. When Allaire Corporation acquired HomeSite from Nick, he started work on TopStyle and later I switched to it. TopStyle was acquired from Nick in 2008, but I still use it today. Sometime last year, the new owners of TopStyle stopped supporting it and the site is gone today. I will likely have to switch to another product to maintain my sites. But TopStyle is still doing the job for me today, so I can hold off on that a bit.

I’ve made lots of changes to my websites over the years. And I’ve maintained a log of all the major changes I’ve made to the site over the past 20 years on my What’s New page.

20 years! Yes, it seems that long!

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