By John Toth
We launched a new website recently, but before I share with you the details, allow me to briefly reminisce about The Bulletin and the Internet.
“What is this Internet thing, anyway?” asked the headline that I wrote on top of a story by a contributing writer who submitted a column on how the Internet works. That was in early 1996 - maybe even late 1995.
Newspapers everywhere were just learning about this new - thing. The Bulletin was less than two years old. I became very interested in the Internet and began researching it. I found it fascinating - a bunch of computers being tied together and communicating with each other with the help of a phone line, an email program and a browser.
Wherever it would go, I wanted to be along for the ride.
I made a deal with a local server to host The Bulletin’s site. My computer at the time did not have a modem, so I had to rely on the host to post it. I delivered to him the weekly articles in the paper on a floppy disc drive, and he posted it on the site. There were no pictures, just stories scrolling down the monitor. It was simple, but we were on the web.
On election night in November 1996, The Bulletin was updating election results on its website as they came in. That was a first for Brazoria County. I called in the results from County Clerk Dolly Bailey’s office to the tech in Brazoria, who posted it on our site. Nothing fancy, just numbers - updated all night long until the final tally was received.
I wrote articles about these ventures, but of course, they are not in the few papers we wound up keeping from that period.
That prompted me to get more involved in The Bulletin’s Internet presence. I bought a new computer (we needed it, anyway) with a modem and all the bells and whistles available at the time. I also ordered another phone line that was going to be used for the fax machine and the Internet.
Then I started learning how to build websites. I used a browser called Netscape, which also had the ability to allow for coding and creating web pages. I changed to a bigger server and bought the mybulletinnewspaper.com web address.
That started our continuous web presence. I don’t know how many people read it, but it was a lot of fun to do weekly.
I took over the site building, maintenance and updates. It was a one-man show, although the programs I used changed to more sophisticated ones. I dropped Netscape in favor of Dreamweaver.
That’s how it all started. I have been doing it ever since - until now.
Dear reader, as I transition the paper to future publisher Stephanie Gizella Johnson, my daughter, I have stepped aside from web duties. I posted the last updates a few weeks ago. Then we changed to a new site, brazoriacountybulletin.com. The old site that I started now features the new link and asks that you bookmark it.
The new website was built by my son, Bobby, and Stephanie. It is a lot more modern-looking than mine and has more features. And, it also has the Bulletin columns, articles, community news and all other features to which you’re accustomed.
It’s exciting and sad at the same time.
It’s a change that was long overdue, and it looks great. But it is also the end of something that I have done for so many years. It closes the door on an era that started with the headline, “What is this Internet thing, anyway?”