It was nearly 10 years ago (mid 1996) that I first put my own web server on the Internet. Back in college, I managed to convince one of the staff to give my personal computer a static IP address so that I could run a web server. At the time there were no other student computers on the campus network, let alone with static addresses.
It was a year of firsts for me and for the University.
At the time my nearly state of the art computer was a 486 DX2/66 with 16MB of RAM running Linux 2.0.0. (I still remember upgrading from 1.x.x.) The computer lived at the address pizza.bgsu.edu (that link goes to the Internet Archive, where you can see pizza's old home page). I put my homepage there, as did several friends. We used telnet (gasp!) to login and update things.
I remember spending something like $100 for the Ethernet card, a 3Com 509 with 10base2, 10base-T, and "thick" ethernet. Computers didn't all come with built-in network ports back then. And $100 was a lot of money for a lowly undergrad. But being in the Internet was important to me.
I remember learning Perl and CGI programming in 1996 too. In fact, I built my first "web application" that year and ran it for a few years. Sadly, the Internet Archive never captured the "Vote on Bowling Green's Best Pizza" site I had built. It became quite popular on campus (among those who used the web, at least!)
That application led to the student government paying me $400 a year or so later to build the first on-line voting system. That's right, back in 1997 or 1998 we had the option of voting on-line for our student government elections. That involved more Perl code (complete with socket programming) and a little flat-file database system (with locking) to hold the data. No PHP, no MySQL.
That experience led to a few side jobs doing "web programming" (for rates that seemed really high back then, but it was the beginning of Bubble 1.0), an 8 month systems administration internship in the Computer Science Department, turning down the chance to work at Yahoo! (back in 1997 or so, but that's a story for another day), a longer-running co-op with Marathon Oil Company doing Intranet and Internet Web development, graduation, a full-time job at Marathon, and ultimately moving to California to work for Yahoo in late 1999.
Anyway, the first web server stayed on the school network for a few years and eventually saw a motherboard upgrade. (Remember when we used to upgrade motherboards instead of buying completely new computers?) It then became what it is today: a Pentium 133 with 96MB of RAM running Linux. It went on to be my home Linux server for years, gaining a second network card (it was my gateway/firewall before Linksys made such devices), CD-ROM drive, and so on.
Now, 10 years later I'm giving it away on craigslist. My own little piece of history that no longer serves a practical purpose and nobody is likely to pay money for it. But it still works. ;-)
What do you remember about your first web server?
Posted by jzawodn at January 01, 2006 10:17 AM