This site launched on the World Wide Web on Monday September 16, 1996.
For the first year, I operated the web server out of my home office, over a 28.8kbps modem connection, using a Global Village Teleport Platinum modem. It wasn't ISDN or T1, but it served files about as fast as most people could receive them. A second phone line into the house was dedicated to Internet data traffic. I am just a few blocks away from the phone switch for my neighborhood, and there are no big radio towers or power lines around to cause interference, so it was a high quality connection.
In early 1997, our forum was spotlighted by Netscape Inc., with a link from their Netscape Guide page (then called Netscape Destinations). A huge volume of traffic hit the site. While the attention was appreciated, our site wasn't prepared to handle the volume of traffic. I had to respond quickly. Within a day, I had moved nearly all of the site's graphics files to a Web server at my ISP. All the Web pages were still being served from my home server over the dedicated modem connection, but all the graphics on those pages were delivered from the ISP Web server, taking a big load off the dedicated modem connection.
The Netscape blast lasted for nearly a week, and had a lot to do with putting the Internet Cartoons Forum on the Internet map. And the change to a "hybrid server" (pages on one server, graphics on another) gave this site plenty of growing room. And grow it did!
During 1997, the Internet Cartoons Forum grew from serving just 7,000 pages per month to serving over 30,000 pages per month.
By the end of 1997, it was clear that a simple dedicated modem connection would not be adequate for continued growth in traffic to our site. At the end of the year, I upgraded the server computer and co-located it at my Internet Service Provider, where it now shares a direct T1 connection to the Internet.
Digital Forest, my local ISP, has provided a dial-up modem account so I can connect to my server computer whenever I want, to manage and update the Web site and the scripts that run it.
I'm using Vicom Internet Gateway router software at my home office to allow several computers to share Internet access over one phone line. I've networked four computers into a LAN in my home office, using Apple Talk PhoneNet connectors and the normal phone wiring in the walls of the house. Macintosh computers are easy to network!
The Cartoon Bar graphical virtual world chat site runs on Palace server software. It's set to serve up to 40 people, with up to 16 people in a room. The chat server communicates over the same T1 connection as the Web server.
Here are two books I picked up at my local bookstore that have been very helpful in developing this site:
Web Server Construction Kit for Macintosh, by Stewart Buskirk
(1996, Hayden Books, Indianapolis, IN)
Designing for the Web, by Jennifer Niederst with Edie Freedman
(1996, O'Reilly & Associates, Inc., Sebastopol, CA)
I'm running WebSTAR Web server software on an Apple Macintosh G3/233 PowerPC. Frontier CGI scripts control the ToonTalk message board and other parts of the web site.
My favorite HTML editor is PageSpinner for Macintosh.
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