In Internet terms, I am a dinosaur.
As a staff member of the House of Representatives Science & Technology Committee, I worked on legislation to transfer what was then known as ARPANet from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to the National Science Foundation to create the civilian network that became the Internet.
NSF funded transferring the packet switching network from the highly-secret DARPA to civilian use in the 1980s and originally saw it as a way for educators at colleges and universities to gain access for supercomputer sites.
DARPA decommissioned ARPANet in 1990 and the Internet took over.
As a Science and Technology staff member with top-secret clearances, I had access to ARPANet and, while it was still a text and code based operation in the 80s, we began to see other uses for it with the transition to civilian access. Netscape, designed at the University of Illinois, became one of the first Internet browsers that featured graphics and rudimentary design and it became my browser of choice by the early 90s when my Internet Service Provider began offering free web space to its users.
On October 1, 1994, I set up a weekly news commentary website called Capitol Hill Blue and its growth exceeded the limited free space that my ISP allowed and I registered the domain name and set it up on a rudimentary server in our home in Arlington. Our condo building sat on Fairfax Drive, just across the street from DARPA.
In 1995, a friend at a group where Internet geeks gathered for monthly dinners at a restaurant on Wilson Blvd. in Arlington wanted to set up a dedicated server and place it in a server farm that would connect to the ‘Net at high speeds. I went into partnership with him and we put our web sites on the server and still had space left over, so we started offering to rent web hosting space to others who wanted to become part of the Internet world.
That started my ownership of web servers and part of the hosting business. At one point in the 1990s, I hosted more than 200 sites that included media sites, associations in Washington and media operations. For a while,, I hosted web operations like the Discovery Channel, the Conservative Political Action Committee site and sites for national candidates for House and Senate campaigns.
After we left the National Capital Region in 2004 and bought a home in Floyd County, I sold off the bulk of my web hosting business but I kept a few servers to host local web sites and some still based in Washington. I now host the web sites for The Floyd Country Store, Republic of Floyd, Sustain Floyd, Crenshaw Lighting, a number of blogs and personal web sites and contribute web space to groups like the Floyd County Rescue Squad.
However, my advancing age and a near-fatal accident in late 2012, have convinced me that it is time to give up web hosting and, after more than 20 years in the business, I am shutting down the operation by the end of this year.
Even my personal web sites, which include Capitol Hill Blue, now the oldest continually-published political news website on the World Wide Web, and Blue Ridge Muse, will be hosted by others. I began notifying clients of my decision this week and I will work with my clients to find new homes to host their sites.
My decision is bittersweet. As I approach 70, a milestone I never expected to celebrate, I recognize a need to slow down. I intend to focus on my love of photography and continue to cover news for The Floyd Press and run my two primary websites for as long as I can.
Unlike Al Gore, really did have a small part early part of the Internet. It has been part of my life for more than two decades and I will miss being a web host.
However, it is time to move on and I do so with a smile on my face and the joy of having a miniscule role in something that changed history.