A long, long time ago (let’s call it 1995, because it was), I had my very first personal home page. It was hosted for free at a site called GeoPages. The very old timers out there might know this by the it’s later name: GeoCities. Back then, you could get 512K of free storage for your very own web site! (I know, hard to believe, but true!)
In 1996, I purchased my first digital camera, and started taking digital photos during my visits to Disney parks. As my online photo library expanded, I started using some other hosting services to share the thousands (I know, hard to believe, but true!) of digital photos. I eventually moved my site to Simplenet.
In 1995, I had also signed up to an email aliasing service called POBox.com that gave me a redirection URL that I could point anywhere. I started out with www.pobox.com/~alsplace redirecting to my old www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/1842 site, and then was able to change that to point to whatever my old Simplenet address was. (And, I think, my people.delphi.com address somewhere in between.)
It was during this time that I made this classy home-made T-shirt to wear during my Disney trips…
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you a mid-90s state-of-the-art heat transfer T-shirt…
You know how webmasters in the early days had egos, right? I’d proudly wear this “classy” shirt to the parks to promote my personal home page. There were several variations of the shirt over the years as the count of photos I had increased. This was somewhere in the middle. (Eventually it would become a DisneyFans.com shirt.)
One time, while getting food at Disneyland’s Big Thunder Ranch BBQ, a cast member noticed the shirt and asked me about it. She wrote down the web address so she could visit my site later. To my surprise, she presented me with free “happy birthday” chocolate cake. This was one of many special things I received in those early years because of my website.
Times have really changed since then. Today there are hundreds or even thousands of Disney fan sites. There are endless “news” sites that echo the same tidbits. But back then, there weren’t that many of us… internet newsgroups were still the main place to discuss Disney theme parks. Web forums would come much later 😉
What a long, strange trip it’s been…
In future posts, I’ll share some of the real shirts I have collected over the years, including a number of limited edition ones which, for some reason, I’ve never even worn…
Until next time…
BONUS: Do you see my later DisneyFans.com shirt in this following photo?
Recently, I’ve been trying to find the source of an old rumor about Disney doing a retro (though we didn’t use that word then) attraction theater at Magic Kingdom. On July 28, 2000, I wrote the following in an old Yahoo! group (yes, Virginia, there was a day before Google)…
Now, it is known Disney has taken film of all their major parks being built (except,perhaps, Disney’s California Adventure?)… Disney also used to really document early animatronics (there is archived footage of the original C. of Progresssomewhere)… Does anyone know if Disney bothered to film each segment of World of Motion, Horizons, etc., before closing them down “for the future”?
Someone has a site suggesting putting up a “VR lost attractions” area at the photo expo at WDW’s TMK. It’s a great idea, and shows like CoP could be done great by simply filming it from the audience in 3-D. Other attractions could be done using Cave technology or whatever. Has anyone seen the site I talk about? If so, where is it? I’ve not been able to find it 🙂
Here we are, almost 20 years later, and I guess the odds of me finding that site are long gone. Most sites from back then are only available thanks to archive.org copies.
I first experienced the Internet in the early 1990s via an old text-based dial-up service called GEnie (operated by long-time Disney-sponsor General Electric). GEnie had opened up a portal to a few types of internet services, including things like Gopher (the pre-web search engine) and FTP (the pre-web file transfer). They also had something that let you view text pages on the internet. It wasn’t until July 1995 that I would learn that these text pages could also have pictures!
I had accepted a new job and moved to Iowa. On my desk was a SUN workstation running SunOS (Unix). It had a program called Netscape that let you see those same text pages, but with small pictures! It’s hard to believe there was a time when we didn’t know what the “world wide web” was.
One of the early web sites I visited was a personal home page for the Banks Family. They had gone to Walt Disney World and used something called an Apple QuickTake to take photos and then upload them to their website each night. Yes, Virginia. Apple basically invented the consumer digital camera in 1994.
Since my new job allowed me to get to Disneyland and Disney World often, I decided I would like to have one of these computer cameras* to document my trips also. There weren’t many options back then, so in 1996 I decided to buy an Epson PhotoPC for $500.
* During those early years, I had to call it a “computer camera”. No one knew what a “digital camera” was.
The PhotoPC had 1 megabyte of storage. It could take a dozen 320×240 images (or a few at 640×480) before you had to hook it up to a PC to download those images over a serial cable. This is the camera I used for all my Disney and other theme park trips from 1996 to 1999. (I did soon spend $300 to add a 4MB memory expansion which let me store up to 99 640×480 photos.)
Film cameras of the day could have as few as 12 pictures per roll (like the Kodak Disc camera), or maybe 24 or 36 pictures for a more standard camera. Getting over a dozen digital and not having to buy film was amazing! Even if the pictures looked like this…
That is a 320×240 image from the PhotoPC. Understand that, back then, a “large” PC screen might have only been 640×480 so the full size pictures the camera took where perfect for the technology of the day. And since the internet was a dial-up service and very slow, photos were scaled down even smaller else they would take “forever” to load. While today that image looks like a thumbnail, back then, it filled 1/4th of the screen.
If I had known how important the world wide web would become, or that we’d one day have high speed internet and 4K monitors (I’m sure this will seem retro and quaint in a decade), I would have upgraded my camera sooner to the a model that took larger photos. But, at the time, this camera took images larger than I could use on the web.
With that in mind, I’ll leave you with a few more images:
This was the walkway that led to the parking lots. You can even see cars parked to the left and right of it. Unfortunately, the resolution is so low, I can’t tell if I was facing towards Disneyland (are those the ticket booths at the end?) or away from it towards where Disney California Adventure is today.
And just to compare, here is what a full size 640×480 image looked like:
That was the old Disneyland Hotel “lake.”
I look forward to walking you through some of these old photos in future postings. Hopefully this post will give you an idea of what I have in mind for future articles.