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Thread: The first Windows server ever

  1. #1
    Senior Member gore's Avatar
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    Oct 2002

    The first Windows server ever

    I just saw this and believe me, this is really a neat read. You aren't going to learn something for your job reading this, but the sheer history lesson to me is priceless. I don't think it's a huge shock to anyone I have a huge interest in computer history.

    Microsoft.com in the Early days of mostly text net:


    Running on NT 3.51.... I wonder if they still have this thing somewhere.

    In the beginning, www.microsoft.com was just one computer tucked under a table at the end of a long hallway. It was designed to test Microsoft's first 32-bit Windows implementation of TCP/IP, the software plumbing in Windows that enables Internet communications.

    Microsoft legend says that this machine once lived under the desk of the site's first official administrator, Mark Ingalls, but like most legends that's only half true. A staging server for microsoft.com was actually housed beneath his desk, and it was relocated because too often Ingalls reached down and turned off the wrong machine by mistake.

    As we prepare to enter the year 2000, it makes sense to reflect on all that has happened since 1994 - the year that microsoft.com launched its public Internet Web domain with a home page. This isn't meant to be an exhaustive account of the early days of Microsoft on the Web, just a short compilation of history and reminisces by some of the "old timers" who helped build the foundation for microsoft.com.
    Humble beginnings
    The first Microsoft Internet site was born in early 1993. Group Manager John Martin of Microsoft's Corporate Network Systems group sought and received the charter to post Microsoft support resources, previously available only on a CompuServe forum, to a public FTP server. The site was named gowinnt.microsoft.com in honor of the keyword used to access the forum on CompuServe. It was later changed to ftp.microsoft.com, to better map with Internet naming conventions.

    Lol read the last sentence lol. Heh even then they were tyring to do it another way that wasn't standard

    A year later, in 1994, the group sought to expand the support offerings to include gopher and Web servers. Emphasis was originally placed on the more mature gopher protocol, which offered limited text-only browsing with a menu-like interface and searching via WAIS gateway, a primitive predecessor to the modern search engine.

    Mark Ingalls recalls that when he first typed www.microsoft.com into a Web browser to ensure it hadn't already been claimed, he was surprised to find a site already there. He traced the site to pioneering Microsoft developer J Allard, who had claimed the server name to test out his new TCP/IP networking stack. The first recorded Microsoft Web server was situated at the end of a hallway in one of the older buildings on campus. Allard agreed to pass the server to the product support group, and it was eventually relocated to a lonely corner of the Microsoft corporate data center.

    The servers started delivering content on Windows NT 3.1 using the European Microsoft Windows Academic Consortium (EMWAC) WWW server software.

    Ahhh the good ol days of NO IIS

    Ingalls and his ragtag crew converted much of the patchwork content for the site themselves using an automated rich text-to-HTML process, and spent the balance of their time evangelizing the Web site's benefits throughout the company.

    "You had to convince people that HTML was worth their time," Ingalls noted. But in just more than a year, the group was fielding too many requests. Despite the primitive nature of the Internet site, it was wildly successful - to the point where Bill Gates himself commented in a May 1995 memo that "amazingly, it is easier to find information on the Web than it is to find information on the Microsoft Corporate Network."

    It was obvious that the Web was here to stay.

    lol. "This internet thingy might be on to something there, maybe those UNIX guys aren't nuts afterall.... HURRY! BUILD A WEB SERVER AND FTP SERVER MAKE IT COMPLEX AS HELL AND CHANGE THE PROTOCOLS! WE'LL SMEAR NETWARE!" hehe.

    Mark Ingalls recalls how he mistakenly deleted the live default.htm file that served as the microsoft.com home page, in the days before staging servers. While home page visitors were receiving File Not Found errors, Ingalls rooted around in his browser cache - where the cache filenames did NOT map to their real names - to find and restore the page to active duty.
    .... I'll be good this once lol.

    OMG I CAN'T HOLD BACK ON THIS ONE::::::::::::::

    The predecessor to MSNBC, known then as MSN News, was first published prematurely when a member of the production team, sitting up on a desk to study a schematic, clicked a mouse button with his derriere. The team watched in horror as the content went live to a public server before it was ready.


    LOL not the last time someone in Microsoft popped a web page right out of their ass AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH

    A vendor who had only a passing knowledge of microsoft.com coding policies delivered the first Windows CE site. The first test on the site with Weblint, a tool used to check validity of HTML, returned 100 pages of errors. There was a harried pre-Comdex weekend in November 1996 where every link and quite a bit of other code on the several hundred page site was manually recoded by a handful of people so it could be published in time for Bill Gates' Sunday night keynote.
    LOL...... Bet that took some time....

    "Rolling out IIS to microsoft.com prior to releasing it to customers has always been an important requirement," noted developer John Ludeman. "There's no testing that can be done that's equivalent to the environment of live Internet traffic. That motto still exists - all of microsoft.com was running IIS 5.0 before Windows 2000 was released."
    Everyone sit down before reading further:

    I'm giving Microsoft props here.... They have stayed true to this one even from the early days so I'll give them that...


    A new home page design, dubbed "Collage," was developed to replace the Star Map imagery. As crowds massed for "Midnight Madness" outside computer retailers and talk show host Jay Leno arrived in Seattle to emcee the Windows 95 launch extravaganza, the Web site team was treated to a steak dinner in the midst of a harried, sleepless night preparing for the anticipated throngs of curious launch-day Web site visitors.

    Despite all of the preparations, the launch didn't come off as cleanly as planned. An interaction of third-party browser bugs and the pre-release version of Microsoft's Internet server software yielded a disastrous combination: a two-byte discrepancy in registration data started causing servers to crash. "John Ludeman and I are sitting in the corporate data center with debuggers attached to both registration Web servers, trying to keep them alive," said Ingalls. "I'm on no sleep at this point, standing there watching a developer debug source code."

    Lol, at least we know now that Microsoft has some GOOD people wrking for them who will go without sleep to debug a live server. Actually, I've known this for some time, mainly because a lot of Microsoft coders came from UNIX and they actually enjoy UNIX AND Windows...

    The team prevailed - eventually, and learned a valuable lesson about testing and capacity planning that helped shape the era to come. Afterwards, the proud Web operations staff wore T-shirts they had printed with the slogan, "Sleep make you weak."

    I'm not going to quote the rest because this is huge now, but I will link to what the web site looked like through it's history and link to the second page of the article:








    The last one shows Windows 2000 being released. Anyway, read, enjoy, comment.

  2. #2
    Senior Member ShippMA's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Hey Gore,

    Nice read, I too enjoy reading about the history of things and seeing what people have done before, and the mistakes they made.


    Google is god ....... of the Internet

  3. #3
    Senior Member RoadClosed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    I remember when microsoft.com wasn't there. There wasn't a whole lot at all. We spent our time on University unix servers and knew the unix command structure and manual ftp and telnet commands by heart. Lynx was KING! And if you wanted something you used Archie Gopher or Veronica. lol. One of the earliest most popular sites was The Well. When the web was launched MS didn't even have TCP/IP support. You had to load the sockets via Trumpet.
    West of House
    You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.
    There is a small mailbox here.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    hmm... I guess everyonce in a while I should do something nice.


    Check the downloads I believe 3.5 is there.

  5. #5
    AO Senior Cow-beller
    zencoder's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Mountain standard tribe.
    That server may just end up in the Computer History Museum, if they still have it. I think I've posted this before, but check out the First Google Production Server Rack here at my friends gallery archive:
    "Data is not necessarily information. Information does not necessarily lead to knowledge. And knowledge is not always sufficient to discover truth and breed wisdom." --Spaf
    Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made president should on no account be allowed to do the job. --Douglas Adams (1952-2001)
    "...people find it far easier to forgive others for being wrong than being right." - Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore

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