The History of HTML Goodies

By Vince Barnes

It was around 1992, when the World Wide Web was still something most people had never heard about. A new browser called Netscape 1.0 had come out and I started studying for a Ph.D. in Communications at a large university in Ohio. During the first couple of weeks of the semester, everyone wanted to get hooked up to the school's Internet server so they could send email around. I was the first to successfully attach. It was more dumb luck than skill.

Of course, that also meant I was the first to be called when someone else couldn't seem to make their connection. After helping three or four people, somehow I was given the moniker of Computer Wizard. It was a totally groundless title, but one I wasn't willing to give up by telling the truth.

Word spread to the computer science department of this great computer guru housed within the Communications building. They needed someone to teach a section of basic computers. I nervously accepted. Luckily it was getting to be Christmas break which meant a month's free time. I had to teach myself the computer. I traded a guy the use of his computer for a month in exchange for taking care of his cats. When I got started, however, I found I did have a knack for these fancy thinkin' boxes. I began to become consumed by what they could do.

When school started again, the Webmaster asked if I wanted some World Wide Web space on their server. At this stage in my computer learning curve, he might as well have been speaking Lebanese. But it was free. I took it. My home page was created that afternoon.

I began asking anyone that seemed to have any form of computer knowledge how to go about making a Web page. Very few were willing to offer any help. It seemed that if I was going to learn this HTML language that I was going to have to teach myself.

My first and only home page to this point existed only on a computer disc. It had clean lines and looked good. Later in the same day the page was finished, I got into a conversation with the head of the computer department who asked what I had been up to lately. I showed her my page. She asked if I would be willing to teach the HTML summer class.

Sure.

Once again, I had accepted a position I was completely unqualified to perform. I started looking at the source codes of World Wide Web pages, collecting, categorizing, and sub-categorizing the commands and what they did. There wasn't a chance on God's green earth I was going to remember all this, so I wrote seven tutorials covering seven basic HTML areas. The purpose was to help me remember the required commands while lecturing.

I also collected a handful of images that all looked like little pieces of candy, what my father use to call "goodies." The name stuck. The first "HTML Goodies" page went up in June of 1994.

I figured it couldn't hurt to register the tutorials with Webcrawler and Yahoo. I had a hard enough time learning this myself. If I could make someone else's life a little easier, all the better.

A month went by and I received a letter from the Webmaster who had offered me the space in the first place. He was yelling, as much as one can yell in an email letter, that so many people were using my site that it was putting a strain on the server. It seemed that I had built the better mousetrap. People were coming in droves.

The email poured in. People wrote long, emotion-filled, thank you letters telling me they were happy to have found a site that showed them HTML in a language they could understand. No one had yet taken the time to explain the language in simple English, let alone offer it on the World Wide Web. Others wrote with questions. I started answering them. Within three months of posting the pages, I was answering 20 questions a day and servicing some 50,000 people a month. And they keep coming.

In November of 1996, the domain name htmlgoodies.com was born. And in 2001, I sold the site to Jupitermedia's internet.com, where it remains today.

HTML Goodies now sports over 700 tutorials and services over a million people a month. The first HTML Goodies book was the culmination of four years of research, hard work, and an untold number of questions from readers.

Thanks, Joe Burns

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