Web Design Company

Quantum Link BBS
  Reading time 7 minutes

Web Design Company

When I started in web design, it wasn’t actually designing per se, we are talking 1996-97 timeframe and I was converting all of our course material (I was an instructor in the Marine Corps) from Enable to HTML. That is how I first got my start in HTML. I don’t think Enable had a “save as” function or an export function, I think I was having to do it all by hand. But we were trying to modernize our course material and we figured HTML was the way to go.

Before that time, I had been formally taught the Basic programming language in High School. I was taught SunOS and Solaris (along with Bash and Korn shell) formally while I was in the Marine Corps and I picked up Windows along the way. I self-taught Windows batch files around this time.

Now to show you how long ago this was and what the web looked like back then, it was around 1996, when everyone was using the dancing baby animated GIF for some reason.

Most home users were using Windows 3.1 or OS/2 Warp (IBM’s failed attempt at a Windowing environment)


There were about 10 million users online in the late 90s, with about 35 million people with email accounts and ESPN’s web presence looked like this. Most everyone connected to the Internet via a dial-up modem (at breakneck speeds of 33.6Kbps, you were lucky if you had 56Kbps) and Google.com didn’t even exist (it was called Backrub during this time period and not widely known). In fact, the search engine game was so different back then, search engines like Yahoo!, WebCrawler, Altavista, Excite, and Lycos ruled the world and the browser of choice was Netscape.

Most people were still using Windows 95 with some having made the switch to Windows 98 and if you were really fortunate, you moved to Windows 98SE (Second Edition), which is still considered by many to be the best version of Windows yet.

There was no smartphone, no broadband, and no Wi-Fi, those technologies were either not invented or not mainstream yet. There was no YouTube, there was no Wikipedia, and certainly no Facebook.

Most people used what was known as BBSs or Bulletin Board Systems, which were basically a service where you would dial up and hang out with others that were on that same BBS. They offered games, chat, and message forums and some even offered a connection to another BBS. This is where companies like AOL thrived, they were one of the largest, if not the largest BBS of the time period.

Quantum Link was operated by Quantum Computer Services of Vienna, Virginia, which later became America Online

One thing most BBSs were starting to offer was a connection to the Internet. See back then you needed a way to connect to the Internet, you needed a point of presence or a POP which was a dial-up node that allowed you to go onto the Internet. There were less than 260,000 websites on the Internet, up from 24,000 the year before. The website boom was happening.

My web design company was a computer repair business back then and my first commercial website was for a local tile company.

I was also formally taught C++ in College and I toyed around with Perl.

I started to do more and more small websites for computer repair customers and we slowly moved away from computer repair and more towards web design.

People had only recently started to switch from 640×480 to 800×600 screen resolutions.

The problem with the repair business is that people were all too willing to pay you to come to their house on Christmas morning to set up their new computer or to install a new video adapter or new game. I grew tired of being a “whore” like that.

By 2000, we still didn’t have what we know to be the Internet. We were still mostly using dial-up and AOL was more popular than ever. There were only around 17 million websites in 2000, compared to close to 2 billion today. But we did have the Y2K bug, which was nothing but hype.

By 2005, we still didn’t have Facebook (it was still called Facemash and then Thefacebook, and only available at Harvard University at this time), but we did have MySpace and that is where everyone was hanging out online.

We have YouTube now, but no one knows about it yet. In fact, the king of the video was Real Media’s Realtime format and Real-time player.

I had designed about 50 different websites for small businesses by now, with most being in HTML, with some using technology like SSI (Server Side Includes) to help keep the duplication of efforts down.

By now my company was a full-service web design company, designing mostly in HTML and CGI (Perl) with a little PHP. We were designing e-commerce sites in OsCommerce or ZenCart (though we preferred ZenCart).

Around 2006 I jumped into Joomla as a CMS (Content Management System), but really didn’t like how it worked and played with others.

It was around 2008 when I started designing using WordPress as the CMS and we haven’t looked back since.

I have stuck with WordPress, after dabbling around with DSpace, OpenCMS, Drupal, Magento, Mambo, PHP-Nuke, Prestashop with a little Frontpage, ASP, Ruby on Rails, and ColdFusion in there for good measure.

WordPress is where I’m at and I’m happy developing around it.

I only wish I would have investing in Quantum Link / AOL way back then.

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