|The Well as the first "online" community. SI was the first to grow purely out of the web browser...I know because there were only a few very crude pieces of forum software beginning to develop in August 1995 when we launched, such as Altavista Forums. |
Altavista Forums and others like it were painfully slow, because each time you selected a message, an entire external program (called a CGI program) was launched by the operating system to process the request. The turnaround time was several seconds and if a single user clicked "next" 10 times in quick succession they could easily overload the server. It was really unusable except for really small experimental applications.
Bob Denny of O'Reilly Publishing created a Web Server and API that ran on Windows, which allowed me to compile code which ran within the web server program itself, while linked to a database....opening up the possibility of a truly scalable web community. Gave me a 12 month head start against all the Unix geeks.
Bob Denny by the way was truly an unsung hero of the Web....he writes automation software for telescopes now and serves as a part-time sheriff in Arizona:
Sad that he doesn't even mention his accomplishments in the 90's Web world.
Other communities existed on AOL, Prodigy, Compuserve, and dial-in bulletin board systems (which is where the Well started)...some of those, such as Motley Fool in 1997, later migrated to the web.