When I was in high school, the internet was popular but it was still in its infancy. Having your own web page seemed like a really cool, exclusive thing that only rich people could do. None of my friends knew how to purchase a domain name or what HTML was, but we did know that we all wanted a website to call our own.
I don’t remember how we initially found out about it, but somehow we heard of this page called Angelfire. The name made us excited and nervous, and its technology changed our lives forever.
There were a bunch of similar sites around at the time – Geocities and Lycos were two others– and they all offered the same thing: the chance to create your very own webpage with your very own URL!
To be fair, it wasn’t a URL that was completely yours, since every domain name started with Angelfire-dot-com, but after that first slash, you could do whatever you wanted. I know every other blog site on the planet does that now, but this was still the 90s, and you can never take that away from me.
My very first web page was angelfire.com/nj/myhouse. It does not still exist, and this makes me very, very upset. I should note that the “NJ” in there wasn’t my decision; it was another thing mandated by Angelfire. For some reason they made you choose a state before your custom tag.
Within the pages of “My House” were dozens of articles about things happening in the school. This sounds incredibly lame, but it wasn’t like a newspaper. It was essentially a TMZ of all the goings-on in Saddle Brook High School, except I made everything up.
Some of the things were mean-spirited but most of them were all in fun. I told a few friends about it, and they told some friends, and within a few weeks I had a pretty decent “following”.
It was a blog before we even knew what blogs were. I remember a news report explaining what a blog was. What a fun time to grow up.
My friend Jim started a web page that he called, “The Fatplace”. It was amazing. Amongst its many features was a column entitled “Behind the Blue Bars”, written from the point of view of his hamster. I also think he had a section about working at LensCrafters. Sadly, this wonderful site has also been lost forever. I am crushed.
Angelfire spread like wildfire (ho!) in my hometown. Before you knew it, everyone had a page. My high school marching band had a page, and it had ads on it. Yes, Angelfire allowed you to place ads for Barnes and Noble on your website, and you’d get money for every order placed through that link.
I’m sure it was only fractions of a cent, but this was around the time of the Dot-Com Boom, so everyone thought they were going to make crazy cash off of that banner ad.
In case you want to see it, the site inexplicably still exists. The Barnes and Noble link is gone, but try buying something from whatever link happens to be down there and I’ll let you know if my old band director gets mailed a check.
The idea of a personal web page or blog is obviously still alive and well, thanks to sites like Tumblr and Blogspot. But now you can choose from fancy, pre-made design templates. Plus you have a lot more choices for content. If you wanted to include a picture of something on Angelfire and you weren’t able to find it somewhere, you’d be decorating your page with MS Paint files, or worse, these.
Animated GIFs have sure come a long way, haven’t they?blog comments powered by Disqus
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