Matchstick Media Production

Online Portfolio for the Web Sites Built and Managed by Matt Slaybaugh

Bio.cornell.edu

Cornell University of Biological Sciences

bio.cornell.edu

I worked on this site and many of the subsites from 1994 through 1997, building most of them from nothing. At one point I calculated that I had personally coded 10% of all web pages under the cornell.edu domain.

This was during the early stages of Web development and I got to cut my teeth on these sites.

In 1994 Cornell University had better access to the Internet than most people had at the time. I was familiar with Gopher and Archie but the Web was new to me. I downloaded the Mosaic browser and noticed that lots of colleges and their departments had websites. We did not, however, and when I asked my boss about it, he paused and said, “Good idea. Make one.”

I had originally been hired to develop educational videos and over the three years I was at Cornell that took less and less time as the Web became more important.

The first step was getting a server, so I went to a storeroom where there were a bunch of DEC Alphas gathering dust. I selected one and got it on the network with some help. We had to decide what to call the server. Our local domain was “bio.cornell.edu”, and I suggested the name, “web.bio.cornell.edu”. I was told however, that the convention was to call the server “www…” which made no sense to me since it was so cumbersome to pronounce (“web” has one syllable, while “www” has nine).

Once up, I got the NCSA http daemon from the Urbana-Champagne servers at the University of Illinois, and got to work.

I had made HyperCard and SuperCard applications, so HTML was not a big deal. I had already used Photoshop as well and so my toolbag was nearly complete. And I have to wonder at people learning web development now. It was so easy for me when there was so little to learn and each new tag or protocol was delayed by months. When I started, web pages could not have images or tables, or a background any color other than gray.

The big conceptual development came from learning JavaScript. I had done some programming on the Atari 800 as a kid, but learning JavaScript is when I really learned the basic concepts of if/then, while loops, variables and arrays, etc.