Interview of Julian Egelstaff
RG: How did you first get started in web development?
JE: Well, do you want the long answer or the short answer?
RG: Your choice.
RG: This is for posterity you know. =)
JE: For most of my life I had been watching computers and technology move along and I always was saying to myself, "Oh, this is something you really have to learn about" or "that's something you have to find out about" there was always something. When I had an Atari 800, it was PC's and DOS. When I knew DOS, it was Windows. There was always something ahead that I knew I'd be swamped by if I didn't find out about it and this caused a fair bit of anxiety, since I was from a family that wasn't very affluent. I knew that whatever I did in life, I'd have to make it happen myself. So I always felt a bit of personal pressure to keep up with stuff so I had a good shot at whatever I wanted to do.
Well, when I got to university in the end of my first year (1992-1993) I started hearing about the Internet and e-mail and usenet. No one knew what the web was, except some really technogeek friends of mine. So here was the next thing that I was getting nervous about but I didn't really have an avenue to find out about it (told you there was a long version!) until I started dating Barbara.
The National Capital Freenet, which is basically a not-for-profit ISP in Ottawa, started in 1992 or 1993, I forget which. I had logged in as a guest from some of the campus computer rooms and poked around and thought it was pretty neat but I hadn't really dove in. I was busy with school and I didn't quite know where to start. Well, Barbara had been seeing a good friend of mine, a computer engineer, before she started dating me. She had got a freenet account because our friend had one. So since she had one, when we started going out, she then helped me sign up for one.
I'll never forget the first e-mail I sent which was with her in her residence room on her little Mac Classic! We logged into the Freenet, we were using her account because mine hadn't been activated. It's all text based at this point. No one had heard of Mosaic, let alone Netscape. This was really a UNIX shell environment, though I didn't know it at the time. So, we're looking at this interface, she's pointing out things. it's all based on numbered menus, press the right number for the option you want to execute and we get to typing up an e-mail to my friend Andrew at another University--he was a high school friend--and we get to the e-mail editor (a version of PICO for all you UNIX aficionados out there) and (here's the punch line) I say to barbara, "What's Subject mean?"
*** RG laughs loudly!!
JE: I mean, I'd never sent an e-mail in my life, and I figured you typed in a message. So what's this subject stuff?
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