Readers who turn here just for my coverage of the emergence of the Social Web, please forgive this off-topic post. I saw this evening a post on Webware by Daniel Terdiman about how the comic strip Dilbert is getting a “Web 2.0” website, that enables greater interactivity with the audience, and it reminded me of a long time ago, when the Web was a truly new medium…
The year was 1994, and Netscape was still called Mosaic. Silicon Graphics, the company I worked at, was the hottest in the Valley, making the super-fast 3D wokstations that were transforming the entertainment industry (and a whole lot more). I was a product manager for the Indy workstation, and an early convert to the new religion of the Web. Soon, I would spearhead the launch of WebFORCE, the industry’s first turnkey web server, and WebMagic, the first WYSIWYG HTML editor.
But first, we were just getting our feet wet with having a website that helped customers and prospects get the information they needed. The support team had snagged the domain http://www.sgi.com (a move that would ultimately lead to a renaming of the company from Silicon Graphics to just SGI). The Web was so young, and there were so few websites, that Silicon Graphics was one of the Top Ten web destinations (along with our arch enemy, Sun).
I headed up the product team’s effort to create a really cool section of the website for the Indy workstation. We had a lot of stuff to work with, and tried more than a few out-of-the-box ideas. One of them was to come up with some fun ways to play up a unique feature of the Indy: it was the first computer to ship with digital video support, with each system having a digital video camera on the top (what would now be thought of as a webcam). In truth, it didn’t really have much use at the time, what with limited bandwidth and no web, but it was “cool” nonetheless.
Scott Adams had recently done a number of Dilbert comics on videoconferencing (and how ridiculous it was at the time), and I wanted to include one of them on the Indy website. So, I called up United Media, and negotiated the first-ever content licensing deal for the web, featuring a comic strip. They were, as you can imagine, unprepared for such a call. In the end, I paid them a few hundred dollars for a single strip. But I also invited Scott over for a visit and got video of him drawing Dogbert, which I posted to the site, as well. (We wanted to push the envelope of multimedia for the Web.)
Thanks for the memories!