People often ask me how I got into doing websites. I suppose, since people associate me with vocal music, they don’t see a connection with my musical life and my life of coding. That’s probably because there isn’t one.
In my Junior year of high school at Monterey HS in Lubbock, I was presented with a new path for math. I could either go the usual route of calculus and trig, or go into something brand new called “computer math.” I had no desire for calculus, so computer math it was. This was 1979 and I walked into a new world of coding in Basic and working on Radio Shack TRS-80’s with cassette drives for data storage. The logic of Level 1 Basic was attractive to my musically-oriented mind, and I quickly picked up on the language.
Fast forward through college (with no computers) and into my first year of teaching. I bought myself a Tandy 1000 computer with the old 5.25” floppy drives (I had two!) and a 300 baud modem. One year later I upgraded to a 1200 baud modem and that was blazing fast… unless you compare it to my current cable modem which gives me 30 MG down. How times have changed.
Those two years of teaching (1986-88) were before the acceptance of the Internet on a broad level. The first commercial internet service providers (ISPs) began to show up in the late 1980s. Our online experience consisted of BBS’s, or Bulletin Board Systems. Your computer would physically dial another computer that was running a BBS system. As Wikipedia says,
“Once logged in, a user can perform functions such as uploading and downloading software and data, reading news and bulletins, and exchanging messages with other users, either through email, public message boards, and sometimes via direct chatting. Many BBSes also offered on-line games, in which users can compete with each other, and BBSes with multiple phone lines often provided chat rooms, allowing users to interact with each other.”
It was sort of like an early version of Facebook, without the pictures. You had to find the numbers for other BBS systems from a directory on the BBS you were logged into. Most of them provided a list, and some of the BBS setups were pretty big and pretty popular. Some were small one-man shops. They all had cool themes, such as “The Hobbit Hole” or “The Trek.” It was loads of fun for a single guy who enjoyed coding. I even set one up for my computer and actually received a few calls.
There were a couple of big drawbacks. First, you had to wait for an open line. Many times I called to log in, only to receive a busy signal. Second, unless you lived in a big metropolis, your call was always long distance. I lived in little bitty Crane, TX. Everything was long distance. Everything.
From there, I moved to Tennessee and got into the music world. I quickly came around to the Internet, as everyone was doing. I found out that Acappella already had a website and I started assisting what that. The jump from Basic and DOS to HTML was not a big one. Within a couple of years, I was in charge of our online presence and it’s gone from there.
I’ve been able to watch and participate in the progression of website building, from Basic and DOS to those early WYSIWYG programs, through Frontpage and Dreamweaver, ASP.net and now WordPress with its world of plugins that make it so easy to use. It makes me wonder what’s next?
Of course, I can’t talk about this without the requisite commercial. We sell and/or create websites… we being Moyers Design and Jemully Media. If you have any questions or would even like a free website audit, let me know. Drop me a line or leave a comment below.
Did anyone else out there get involved in the the old BBSes? Leave a comment and tell me about it!