Focal Curve

Nightmare on Memory Lane

Today, in an admirably bold move, Jon Hicks ripped the dust covers off his skeletons and revealed his sordid past. I commend Jon’s bravery, his honesty, his willingness to subject himself to the ridicule of the standardistas. I mean, seriously Jon, Tripod!? Tsk tsk. Everybody knows real designers use GeoCities.

But, not wishing to leave Jon to suffer alone, I’ll dig up some of my own embarassing fossils.

Some of my earliest flailing attempts at HTML

I discovered the internet in October of 1995 in a computer lab at Pittsburg State University. My friend Majed showed me how to get on IRC through a telnet session to my university shell account. I was hooked. One of the people I met on IRC (Erica, who was then attending UIUC) had some web space on her university tilde account and had set up a little site of her own. I sent her about two pages of inane self-indulgent copy and she put it online in its own directory, and that was, in essence, my very first website. It was just white text on a black background, no formatting, no links, and is thankfully long lost within the anals of time (that’s not a typo). But I had caught the bug.


I started tinkering with some basic HTML 2.0 and assembled my first real web page in the spring of 1996 using some freeware WYSIWYG app I downloaded, whose name I can’t recall. The page consisted of a header image lifted from an H.R. Giger painting, a single column of centered text, and a few links to the sites of my IRC friends. I proudly slapped it online at a trendy GeoCities address, which remained active up until about a year ago simply through association with my old Yahoo email account. Alas, that first site is now long deceased, may it rest in peace. Some time later I redesigned it even darker and angstier, and when I finally got my own hosted domain in 2002 I euthanized the old GeoCities site for good. I managed to exhume a partial corpse of the placeholder I left behind from Google’s cache.

All that remains of my first website

Attempting to visit the original URL results in a Yahoo error page. Farewell, old crappy page of pretentious gothy lameness.

In the fall semester of 1996 I, erm, “aquired” a copy of Adobe PageMill 2 and I discovered tables and frames. Ohhh how I loved frames… They became my primary layout weapon of choice as I began my professional career. I did some fairly complex frame-based designs that I’m still fairly proud of just for the technical achievement. Some of them even look pretty nice. When a colleague and I decided to form Focal Curve as a freelance web design company, a site of our own was a foregone conclusion. And of course it was going to involve frames.

So around March of 2002 Focal Curve v1.0 was born in a blaze of framed chrome glory.

Version 1 of Focal Curve, March 2002

A few months later came the first incarnation of the Geek subdomain, originally intended as a community portal running on PHP-Nuke.

The old Geek news portal

But the community never communed and it evolved (or degenerated, depending on how you look at it) into my personal journal. By December of 2003 I had deeply embrace web standards, so it was time for an overhaul. First I redesigned and rebuilt the company site.

Then a few months later, in April 2004, I killed the Nuke portal and converted to WordPress 1.1 with a completely new design.

The first version of my blog, April 2004

A year later, in January 2005, I resolved to rebuild both sites, finally merging them into one, and to have it finished before I went to SXSW. And this is where we are now.

One Comment on 'Nightmare on Memory Lane'

  1. Majed said:

    I really miss those computer lab days at Pittsburg State … Great Memories :)

    1