Six and Counting…
Six years ago today (July 23, 1996), the Real World Technologies website was created – originally only as an online support site for local customers. Not the oldest technical site on the Web, but close. I had been doing local repairs and upgrades of PC systems part-time, partly as an opportunity to provide an out-of-work friend with some new job skills and partly to satisfy my own desires to get more familiar with PCs and electronics. I actually created the site on a whim for the purpose of learning HTML, using support as the excuse.
After putting up a very rudimentary page, I published my first article – The Memory Buyer’s Guide. It was actually a download file in both MS Word and ASCII text format, rather than the HTML formatted articles everyone publishes today. You can still download the original MS Word document (from September 1996 – Zip compressed) from this URL: /files/docs/memory.zip.
Shortly thereafter, I posted the prices for the few motherboards, processors and other components I was selling as upgrades. Since I was offering primarily Cyrix processors, Bryan Davis of the Cyrix Upgrade Advice Guide (later named AlternativeCPU.com) referred a few people to me, and I began working with him to provide timely information on Cyrix processors and technical issues. Though Bryan gave up his Webmastering many years ago, you can still see the final version of the AltCPU.com pages right here (http://www.realworldtech.com/altcpu). These pages still get a few hundred visitors each month.
In October 1996, Bryan mentioned a site called Tom’s Hardware and Performance Guide, which I visited and noticed he was looking for advertisers. After some very interesting negotiations, both Real World Technologies and The RAM Warehouse (since renamed to AZZO Computers) became the first ‘big’ advertisers on that site. The rest, as they say, is history.
Tom’s Hardware and Performance Guide went on to become the biggest and most successful PC enthusiast publication on the Web, and Real World Technologies went on to sponsor a number of other (now mostly defunct) publications while selling to many thousands of DIY’ers. It was an exciting time (and very exhausting), but by mid-1998 it was apparent that anyone actually wanting to make a profit on the Internet would have to endure a few years of intense competition and shakeouts. So, I closed the retail business and transformed the site into an informational publication – mostly dedicated to industry news and reviews.
Since that time, many things have changed in the industry and on the Web, including this site. What started as a place for me to post technical information turned into a very active e-commerce business, and then into a news and review publication.
During the past year, it has been moving towards becoming a professional organization rather than strictly an enthusiast or consumer oriented publication. By the end of this month, this transition should be mostly completed, with a new ‘membership’ model with the intent of becoming self-sustaining. All articles and the discussion forum will continue to be written by professionals and will be available to the public without any membership requirement.
Many thanks are due to the many people that have visited, supported and purchased from Real World Technologies along the way. I am extremely proud to have been involved with the high caliber of people that have been a part of and visited this site over the years. I can’t really say it is ‘my’ site, as so many have been a part of it and made it what it is today. Special thanks must go to Paul DeMone, for taking things to a much higher technical and professional level than I could have hoped for. Thanks must also go to many industry professionals that are far too many to name. I hope it will continue to be fun, evolve and improve in the years to come.
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