So it's our 20th birthday...
Posted February 12th, 2014 by perryd
So, here it is, February again. KidPub has been on the web for 20 years now...no longer a teenager! Here's a bit of a repeat of a post I made last year in response to a member who asked about KidPub's history. Before that, though, I would first like to extend my heartfelt thanks to all of you for making this site possible...without our readers and members it would be pretty pointless. KidPub is one of the oldest sites on the Internet; it's been an amazing journey from those first few posts to where we are today.
I've updated a few of the numbers, marked in [ ] below. I also should note that the book publishing side of the house, KidPub Press, has birthed a similar service for older teen and adult authors, called Bookility. KidPub Press is five this year, and we've published seveal hundred books by our great young authors.
Thanks to everyone for the birthday greetings! It's been an amazing [twenty] years...KidPub has grown from a small Linux computer in my living room with a few web pages on it to this incredible worldwide community of amazing young writers; from just a few visitors a week to over 3,000 visitors a day! I get email now from parents who were members back in the '90s and have kids who have grown up with KidPub. How crazy is that?
For readers who don't know the story of KidPub, here is the short version. Back in the mid 1990s I was working at a large computer company, Digital Equipment Corporation. One of my jobs was to do research on a brand new thing, something called the World Wide Web. I decided that the best way to figure out how it worked was to create my own web site. I had a friend whose daughter loved to write, and I made a little page to post her stories. Back then there were only 10,000 or so web sites in existence...now there are more than 200 million. I started receiving email from other kids who liked to write, asking if I would post -their- story, too. Pretty soon there were dozens, then hundreds, then THOUSANDS of stories posted from kids all over the world.
And it's just kept growing.
Like Dr. Who, there have been several versions of KidPub. The original pages looked pretty comical...I hand-drew the logo, and I didn't really know how to format a web page, so everything had a plain grey background. Stories were sent in by email, and I tried to format them as best I could before posting them. Around 2000 or so the entire site was rebuilt, and then again around 2008. There was a 'notebook' theme that we used for a couple of years, and finally what you see now was created. You can see some of the early designs on the WayBack Machine, like this one from 1998. I recall being really excited to figure out how to replace the gray background with a graphic that looked like paper!
Here's the original logo:
KidMUD, by the way, appeared for the first time a year later in 1996. The first version was destroyed by an evil player, and it was rebuilt several times. The current version was created in 2005.
This is the 'official' announcement of KidPub from February of 1995. Back in those days, we didn't have search engines like Google, and when a new web site was created, the owner would simply announce it on a Usenet newsgroup called 'comp.infosystems.www.misc'. Newsgroups were how we communicated back then, before blogs and instant messaging and such. The very first KidPub pages weren't on kidpub.com or kidpub.org, as I hadn't yet registered those domain names. I owned a small site devoted to fencing (the sword-fighting kind...I did a lot of foil fencing back then) called en-garde.com, and that's where KidPub lived for a few months. The site itself was on a small Linux server in my living room.
So here it is, the 'birth announcement' of KidPub from nearly 20 years ago...
*** From Net-Happenings Moderator ***
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Perry Donham)
Subject: CHILDREN: Publish stories on KidPub
Date: 12 Feb 1995 10:48:12 -0800
KidPub is a place for children to publish their stories, and to
read stories published by others. Its purpose is to encourage
children to write, and to introduce them to the Internet.
I find it interesting that the description of KidPub I wrote 20 years ago is still exactly what KidPub is today.
KidPub is an east-coast company; we're located just outside of Boston, Massachusetts. Because of the Internet, our audience is worldwide. I spend most of my day teaching computer science at a local university, but I'm never more than a few clicks away from working on this site that I love.
The server in my living room has been replaced by a rack of servers, and our book publishing business now has over 400 titles in print. KidPub was featured a few years ago in a front-page New York Times story on kids and publishing. I've seen so many great kids come through the site, and while it's always sad when they leave (and they always do), every year there's another wave of amazing writers to marvel at. It's been an incredible ride for the past 20 years and I can't wait to write the post for our 21st anniversary. And our 25th. And our 40th.
Through all those years, the one thing that has been constant is you, our members and visitors. I simply love reading all your stories, comments, arguments, posts, and everything else. I am incredibly proud of our members. Frankly, you just amaze me with your writing and the way you create KidPub in your own image. My philosophy is that kids are good people, and what I do is give you the tools to express yourself and then just step back to see what happens. It's a big, ever-changing family and every morning I wake up excited to see what you've come up with.
Thank you so much for making KidPub something special. All of you.