Friday, August 16, 2019

"20 years ago today, the first website for a band debuted in cyberspace"

Robin Sloan Bechtel at Medium:

I wanted to try some more experiments, as there was a blank canvas to innovate. Two online services, Prodigy and CompuServe, were quickly becoming popular and so were screensavers. We created one for the Beastie Boys and uploaded it into the software and gaming forums to see what would happen. We also put the screensavers on floppy disks with a whopping 1.5 meg of disk space, not even room for a single song.

...

Since I had real job responsibilities during the day, I would spend my nights alone in the Capitol Tower, just trying to get that damn computer to dial up a modem, in hopes of being rewarded with that glorious sound of the modem connecting. Back then, we tech geeks called it “the handshake.”

...

One day, I got a memo in “interoffice mail.” I was invited to be on a task force for the upcoming Megadeth album Youthanasia and I was to attend the first brainstorming meeting.

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So even though no one had a clue what I was talking about, I wrote a proposal to create a “virtual cybertown in cyberspace.” It would be called Megadeth, Arizona—based on where the band lived and recorded their album.

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Right before the site launched, I started to panic. Is this any good? Is the band going to hate it? Will heavy metal fans revolt?

But at the same time, we didn’t think any of that mattered, because we didn’t think anyone would even see it.

Then we went live.

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At the height of Megadeth, Arizona’s popularity, Capitol wanted to close down the site because the band’s album cycle was ending—still living in a world of limited promotional flights and expiring campaigns. Can you imagine shutting down a popular site today?