Ten Years Ago Today

Ten years ago today, IBM officially joined the Web age when www.ibm.com went live. There wasn’t a whole lot to see on the site (though there was a 36.2-second sound clip from Lou Gerstner, welcoming visitors, and promising frequent changes), and you couldn’t buy anything on the site, either. But it was a start.

Of course, I’d already had IBM on the Web for a few months, by creatively misusing Mike Cowlishaw‘s GoServe for OS/2 as a server for HTTP 0.9 (Mike later rewrote GoServe to be a fully-functional and very capable true HTTP 1.0 server). My server (index.almaden.ibm.com) started life as a Gopher server, and its Web presence was a very thin layer over the Gopher tree — but it was there.

A few months after the official launch of www.ibm.com, I decided it was time to pull the plug on index.almaden.ibm.com. But the name was so well known (and baked into the Gopher client for OS/2), that I insisted the name be transferred to the official OS/2 site in Austin. After all, I wouldn’t have wanted to disappoint any of the hundreds of people visiting the site a week!

Eventually, the name vanished (along with the OS/2 site, I suspect). Gopher and OS/2 are footnotes to computing history. But www.ibm.com is still alive and well (Ed Costello has more to say about its first few years) — and you can buy things there, or so I’ve been told.