Twenty years ago, I was sitting at my computer at my job as an Electrical Engineer for the Navy in September and October of 1994 playing around with FTP a system called Gopher when I came across a application call Mosaic which was a "browser" for the "world wide web". I sounded interesting, so I downloaded it and started exploring. I didn't find too much of interest. I think I may have found one web site with kayaking related stuff by Preston Holmes. But, I was intrigued, the idea was pretty cool. Eventually I found an application that purported to allow you to make a server for websites. I'm not sure if was MacHTTP or WebSTAR my memory isn't that clear, but I thought it would be cool, so I downloaded it and fired it up. Now I needed to make a web page, so I looked at the HTML of some other pages I thought looked pretty good and basically copied them. I needed some content so I scanned in a photo my mother had taken of me with her corgi Willy on an Expedition Single, made a border graphic in Photoshop, selected a kind of pukish green background color by sampling a color form that border and typed a bit of content.
After a little experimenting it looked like the page was live on the world wide web. I experimented with it a bit, added a few more pages about trips, kayak building and a directory of interesting links and whatnot. When it got looking OK, I posted a link to Nick's Kayak Page from my AOL account to rec.boats.paddle which was then the hot spot online for all paddling related discussion. That was September 15, 1994.
A few months later someone submitted the link to my page to a new directory called Yahoo.com. Amazingly enough the Navy lab where I worked initially didn't mind. They quickly understood that other people at the lab would attempt this and they were interested to see what impact it had. Eventually, they determined that it probably wasn't a good thing to have a publicly accessible server inside a lab where secret stuff was happening, but by that time I could find a commercial service provider that would host websites, so I moved that original web page and started putting material to actively promote my small kayak plans business called Guillemot Kayaks.
After a few more bounces arounds that web page became a dark, forgotten corner of my overall website, and various parts of the website were branched off to create other websites such as the KayakForum.com. I eventually got my own domain name and Guillemot-Kayaks.com was born. Various parts of that initial web page live on, including the web page itself, and in more subtle ways such as the background green of this page that shows up in some elements on KayakForum.com.
A lot of websites have come and gone since my initial webpage was released for the world 20 years ago. Back in the day a search on Altavista or WebCrawler for "sea kayak" would quickly bring up Nick's Kayak Page or Guillemot Kayaks near the top of the first page, but now my sites don't show up until page 6 of "sea kayak" on Google, at best. But Googling "nick kayak" still brings up the original page pretty quick. The web is a lot bigger place after 20 years, but I don't know how I would do business without it. It has provided a small, one man shop the ability to communicate to that slice of the world that is interested in building kayaks. It is still pretty cool.