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ibiblio - ten years in the making - aligning the sites

prehistory earliest archived usenet
May 11, 1981
from the usenet archives

UNC bulletin board system
March 14, 1990

"I am in the process of setting up a bulletin board system for a large university campus. Our (rudimentary) board is running on a DECStation 3100 with 1.2 Gbytes of disk space and a capacity of 24 simultaneous network and dialup users." More....

1991 IAFA-SiteInfo ibiblio's registration
First UNC-CH Homepage

Tim Berners-Lee of CERN sets up UNC's first homepage with links to UNC information sites that are indexed through the CERN gateway.

1992 SunSITE proposal
(from UNC to SUN)
January 1992

We've been running an internationally accessed anonymous ftp site for over 5 years. Many days we have experienced over 100 ftp sessions in a 24 hour period. We use anonymous ftp as a way to distribute documents and software and fixes. More....

CERN text-based browser released
January 1992

The line-mode browser (www) was released by anonymous FTP to the general public in January 1992. The previous March (1991) the browser had been released to a limited audience in CERN.

Lynx released

Release of Lynx, a text-only Web browser, that was far easier to use than CERN's reference text browser. Lynx rapidly became an important access point to the early Web for people using terminal connections to mainframes. It remains in use today, though with many extensions and modification. To experience the we through lynx, try the lynx simulator.

First archives
April 21, 1992


Partial list of some of the early archives on pre-SunSITE:
library catalogs online Directions for accessing catalogs worldwide
N.I.H. Documents
recipes from usenet
reports on a new phenomenon: Internet viruses (Internet worm)
UNIX tutorials
directions for joining the Internet
big.brother John Barlow's article on freedom in cyberspace
ethernet-numbers.txt The meaning of each octet in a Ethernet packet
freedomof.info How to gain information under the U.S. freedom of info laws
grace.hopper Stories about Grace Hopper, an early computer pioneer
smilies.dic reference to emoticons, the sideways text faces
zork-history History of the adventure game, Zork or Dungeon

Eric Troan takes on the question:
"Will SunSITE ever be better organized?"

from the email archives:
'Answer: It won't. But I promised to give an answer, so here it is: <tah, tah, tah> No. Never. Not until a very warm place that god sends people who are mean to their mothers freezes over.

Unless I feel like it of course.'

Usage Statistics
June and July 1992

Here are the most recent statistics for SunSITE WAIS and FTP access:
WAIS connections June 1-31 2347
FTP sessions June 1-31 236 more......

Zen and the Art of the Internet,
"a very complete tour of the Net"
July 12, 1992

Project Gutenberg began a digital book that aspired to reveal all aspects of the Internet. 1992 probably was the last time anyone dared to try that. Most of the book deals with email and usenet:
" Tone of Voice; Since common computers can't portray the inflection or tone in a person's voice, how articles are worded can directly affect the response to them. If you say: ' Anybody using a Vic-20 should go buy themselves a life." You'll definitely get some responses---telling you to take a leap. Rather than be inflammatory, phrase your articles in a way that rationally expresses your opinion, like 'What're the practical uses of a Vic-20 these days?' which presents yourself as a much more level-headed individual."

SunSITE hires jem
July 22, 1992

As you may have read in the OIT NewsBrief, OIT has been selected to put together and manage SUN's International ftp repository and to develop a WAIS-FTP client for OpenLook. This grant includes funding for one part time (student) position. More....

Soviet Archives
August 3, 1992

We have the documents all on line on our anonymous ftp site--sunsite.unc.edu in a directory called pub/russia. Each file is available in Russian (in gif format) and in the English translation with background documents associated with each as well. We picked them up from Library of Congress when their availability was announced. The archive was originally on seq1.loc.gov in pub/soviet.archive. We've found them very interesting. Paul Jones from usenet posting Mon, 3 Aug 1992

Linux archive
August 8, 1992

hi, I've been talking to Alan, and I have agreed to take the task of replacing banjo. I am in the process of setting things up and transferring all the linux tree, so there may well be a period (hopefully no more than a week) between the demise of banjo and the presence of the linux stuff at the ftp site sunsite.unc.edu. More....

Unofficial archiving of Presidential materials
August 26, 1992

The presidential candidate archive 1992 - 93
Usenet searches before search engines and wais indexing
Bill Clinton's speech at the democratic convention: When I think about opportunity for all Americans, I think of my grandfather. He ran a country store in our little town of Hope. There were no food stamps back then, so when his customers - whether white or black -who worked hard and did the best they could came in with no money, he'd give them food anyway. Just made a note of it. So did I. Before I was big enough to see over the counter, I learned from him to look up to people other folks looked down on. My grandfather had a grade-school education ....
First Internet Hunt
August 31, 1992

answers: the hunt goes through the presidential archives
"6. (6) Bill Clinton made a speech somewhere on Earth day this year. Where can I find the text of it?
Winner's Answer: (6) Via WAIS (quake.think.com), I searched Clinton speeches at sunsite.unc.edu. - clinton-speechess. Bill Clinton spoke at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA on Earth Day in April 22, 1992."

Gardening Archive
September 28, 1992

Larry London moved the archives of several gardening groups to SunSITE.Usenet announcement of the move. This archive eventfully grew and expanded to the the diverse, multi-layered ecoland tech

Sun Software Archive
Aug. 31, 1992

First software - a SAS driver for Sun:
You can order the free diskette from SAS Institute (919 677-8008) OR you can get the files from a NEW service on our campus. Paul Jones, a person associated with service, sent me a description which I greatly condensed: UNC OIT-CS has been selected by SUN Microsystems to participate in a project which began as an ftp site but now also includes WAIS access. We will also be experimenting with Gopher and World-Wide Web during the project's life. We have set up a SunSite.unc.edu to provide ftp and wais services immediately.

Wais protocol explained
October 8, 1992

A short overview by Paul Jones about how to use wais to get information from SunSITE: "WAIS is a database system that exploits two recently popularized computer science concepts: the client-server model, and full-text databases. It gives the ability for users to search existing databases of articles, books, references, abstracts and specialist information (such as genome databases, usenet group archives, ftp-site listings, etc.), and for people with information to publish it at little expense and effort over the Internet." More....

Server meltdown
November 1, 1992

SunSITE has had a few problems during the last week and I am not surprised that they showed up for people trying to use ftpmail. Everything should be fine now (or in the next couple of days as name caches time out). If you don't want to hear a sorrowful tale hit 'n' now more....

White House archives
December 21 1992

SunSITE has seen a lot of activity by folks all over the world. Since October 9, we've had over 4000 searches of the WAIS database of Clinton speeches and over 8000 downloads of the same files since September 24.


Clinton White House Archives
March 1, 1993

sunsite.unc.edu has been chosen as the major repository for Presidential speeches, press briefings, and related materials from the Clinton White House. The materials are available via anonymous ftp in pub/academic/political-science/whitehouse-papers/1993 and are separated by month. - also see this announcement
By March 18, we had the White House papers on gopher
October 1993 the The Health Security Act of 1993 was archived.

Internet Talk Radio (proposed)
March 30, 1993

A series of papers and messages archived from the discussions at regarding the technologies of bringing radio to the Internet Due to the limitations of bandwidth and music copyright issues, it was assumed that radio on the Internet would have to be talk radio.

Mosaic - What's New list
March 1993

Each server counted and celebrated as it was added . 'What's New' for October 3 ,1993: Up to date information on the Russian crisis from sunsite.unc.edu (not archived at SunSITE)

Linux Software Map

Organizing the information on the Internet was a problem - things were rapidly growing beyond browsing and announce-lists.
Announcement for the second release of the lsm


Clinton Budget
at SunSITE

"Today, for the first time ever, a CD-ROM disc with the complete electronic version of President Clinton's 1995 plan for the U.S. Government Fiscal Year 1995 Budget, as transmitted to Congress, was offered to the public."

Dr Fun
February 1994

Doctor Fun started at the University of Chicago Library in September, 1993 on a server auspiciously named neuromancer.lib.uchicago.edu. It was also running on another machine called microserver.lib.uchicago.edu, but I administered that one so it crashed all the time. At that time, running a web server was an experimental thing, and the neuromancer experiment went down indefinitely sometime in January 1994.

Somebody named Ed Statsny, who ran a collection of online artists called "The OTIS Project" (now called "SITO") contacted me and generously offered me a space on OTIS for Doctor Fun. This was good, because I already knew I would have to move Doctor Fun off of a work web server eventually even when things were fixed, so Doctor Fun moved to SunSITE in February, 1994. Soon after I moved things to OTIS, somebody (Paul, Ed, Jonathan?) decided Doctor Fun should really be on its own space, and that's where it's been ever since.

In 1995, I signed a contract to syndicate Doctor Fun through United Media. Unfortunately, after a year of waiting for them to figure out how to show somebody a cartoon on the Internet with their web server, I decided to opt out of my contract and let it continue the way it was. Since the cartoon never officially left SunSITE during that time, Doctor Fun's been on SunSITE, MetaLab, ibiblio... continuously since 1994. In 2001 the latest Doctor Fun cartoon was downloaded 1,170,927 times.


I believe freeburma, online in 94, was the first human rights website. There was nothing else I could find at the time. Of course, there were no search engines either. But I did lots and lots of "[hot links]" hopping from list to list. (How does one "prove" something like that?) - glen <glen@POBox.com>

Original Unofficial Elvis Presley Web Site

The Original Unofficial Elvis Presley Web site went online sometime in the Spring of '94 and was adopted by the lovely people of SunSITE/MetaLab/ibiblio sometime in the Summer of '94. As far as I know, it was the first Elvis site online and the first listed on Yahoo!, way back when. Due to my lack of work on the site, it's also a relic of old-school Web design... - Andrea Berman <andrea@metalab.unc.edu>

Internet Use Howto and Tools


A series of pages by John December, available in multiple formats that explain what this new technology - the web - is and how to use it:

Information Sources: the Internet and Computer-Mediated Communication
Internet Tools Summary

Yahoo Launched
Internet classification schema

April 1994

"Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle"
David Filo and Jerry Yang, Ph.D. candidates in Electrical Engineering at Stanford University, started their guide in April 1994 as a way to keep track of their personal interests on the Internet. In early 1995 Marc Andreessen, co-founder of Netscape Communications in Mountain View, Ca. invited Filo and Yang to move their files over to larger computers housed at Netscape.

Webcrawler Launched
indexing robotics database

April 20, 1994

The first search robot "WebCrawler Index is available on the World-Wide Web. The index covers nearly 50,000 documents distributed on over 9000 different servers, answers over 6000 queries per day and is updated weekly. The success of this service shows that non-navigational resource discovery is important and validates some of the design choices made in the WebCrawler. Three of these choices stand out: content-based indexing to provide a high-quality index, breadth-first searching to create a broad index, and robot-like behavior to include as many servers as possible."

March 30, 1994

ibic, online March 30, 1994, was the first book "metasite" bringing together all the book-related resources that I could find. W. Frederick Zimmerman <ibic@internetbookinfo.com> (note: ibic's current .com address reflects that changes of ibic moving on to a commercial life and is no longer being housed at ibiblio.)

Expansion of the White House archive
July & July 1994

Beginnings of what grew into U.S. Government Hypertexts
National Health Security Plan
plus several non-linked documents

Virtual Shtetl
July 1994

The Virtual Shtetl was launched in July 1994 and was the first Yiddish web site in the world (before that I tried a gopher site, probably in the Fall of 1993). It was first mentioned in the printed press in May 1995. An incomplete collection of press clippings is stored at http://ibiblio.org/yiddish/About/press.html

Since 1997 Shtetl is used as an external resource on Yiddish language and literature by the encyclopedias Britannica and Encarta that provide links to Shtetl from the respective articles. The dynamics of access to Shtetl is listed in http://ibiblio.org/yiddish/mendele10fp.html#shtetl

UNC Radiology Web Site
October 7, 1994

From the site: "This World Wide Web radiology teaching file is a demonstration project provided by a collaboration between the Departments of Radiology at the University of Alabama, Birmingham and the University of North Carolina. This Teaching file is housed at the University of North Carolina's SunSITE, currently running on httpd server software on a Sparc 10 server. A mirror site will soon be operational at UAB. Images are inline GIF format. Set your client software to automatically load images. Plans for future expansion include more cases, search capability, and integration with other radiology WWW resources."

Metadata emerges
2nd International WWW Conference
October 1994

From a hallway conversation between sessions, which led to a discussion on semantics and the Web.
WXYC radio
November 7, 1994

WXYC began simulcasting its off-air signal in early October of 1994, using the Cu-SeeMe utility developed at Cornell University. We went official on November 7, 1994, becoming the first radio station in the world to offer a live Internet simulcast of an off-air signal.
Press Release for the Internet broadcast
and another press release forwarded through usenet
NC radio received in Norway
Response - dangers of using the Internet to broadcast
Counter-response - compression saves the day
more usenet discussion of mbone ruins the Internet
WREK radio joins the on-line trend
UK Guardian reports on the problems and successes of SunSITE's WXYC broadcasts

snapshot of yahoo 1994
December 31, 1994
(not on SunSITE)s

[ What's New? | What's Cool? | What's Popular? | Stats | A Random Link ] revisit the old yahoo, as it was in 1994 - 23,836 entries

1995 N.C.Meme
January 13, 1995

multimedia archive using .au and .mp2 technology for streaming music

"N.C.Meme is an acronym for North Carolina Multimedia Exhibition of Musicians and Entertainers. At its most basic level, the Meme is a collection of electronic pulses stored in a big off-white plastic box in the basement of Phillips Hall on the UNC campus.These pulses are translated by other boxes around the world into collections of words, pictures, and sounds. These collections are then read, viewed, and listened to by anyone who has access to one of these boxes. Collectively, the network of boxes is known as the Internet, and the translated pulses emanating from the basement of Phillips Hall are some of the finest musical treats North Carolina has to offer.

By taking advantage of what is known as the World Wide Web (a universe of network-accesible audio/visual information on the Internet), N.C.Meme supplies North Carolina bands the opportunity to distribute and promote their materials world-wide. Using "browser" programs like NCSA's Mosaic, people from all over the world now have the ability to get full-color photos, descriptive text, and stereophonic masterpieces from us in a matter of minutes."

Multimedia instruction
how to listen to multimedia using mosaic

Re: Audio in CuSeeme for Windows...A usenet posting from a frustrated user who had been struggling with pulling all the parts of multimedia together get answered with direction from Thomas Boutell's FAQ

Mind Uploading
March 1, 1995

Begun in 1995 as a series of text-based pages: "The issue of personal identity is debated with increasing frequency; the possibility of mind uploading lends it direct relevance to our future. In this Forum, we hope to capture some of the spirit of the debate by presenting two viewpoints, and their application to a variety of cases. "

In 1999, the pages were expanded: "The Mind Uploading home page is dedicated to the putative future process of copying one's mind from the natural substrate of the brain into an artificial one, manufactured by humans. This technology will radically alter society in many ways, as science fiction authors have begun to illustrate. Through this server, explore the science behind the science fiction! "

National Gallery of Art
March 9, 1995

"The following is an experimental area currently in development. We are in the process of redesigning our published and in-house materials for web access. This prototype contains a representative sampling of the types of information we intend to offer. We've decided to make this site available to the publicprior to completion, with the understanding that you may encounter occasional design inconsistencies, unresolved links, ortypographical errors"

HotJava Explorations
March 23, 1995

sunsite.unc.edu offered downloads of the new HotJava browser and version 1.0 alpha3 of the Java(tm) language- the beginning of executable content on the web

"This is an *alpha* release of the browser, focussed on highlighting the technology of "executable content" on the Internet. As such, it is not intended for use as your only WWW browser; it is still missing many common browser features, and will of course have some bugs. It *will* serve to demonstrate the new active interface ideas possible with the technology, and it will allow you to create and compile your own Java content.

There are binary versions of HotJava in this directory that will run on Solaris 2.3 (or above) systems running OpenWindows and Microsoft Windows NT. Other ports are in progress."

May 21, 1995
Iconbrowser was the first icons collection on the web a with search engine. Available since late 1993 it moved to SenSITE in 1995 and became accessible May 21st
SunSITE homepage
June 1995

Experimentation with the new Internet technology: Java. Links to the alphabetic index,

HotJava warning - Jakob Neilsen
June 1995

HyperCard had one unfortunate aspect that will probably repeat itself with HotJava: the profusion of new work included huge amounts of complete junk when people went overboard with inappropriate use of animated transition techniques, mixed weird fonts, and drew plain ugly background bitmaps. The specific attributes of bad user interface design employed by newly unleashed designers with no UI expertise will probably be different for HotJava, but rest assured that there will be some. Caution is recommended in picking up Java design ideas as long as there is no considered user interface styleguide available for appropriate use of the new technology in ways that will help users rather than hinder them. ).

Henriette's Herbal Homepage
July 1995
Henriette's herbal page is one of the oldest herb sites on the web - it's been online since July 1995. The beginnings were small -the main page, the herbfaqs, and the plant name database. Later I added perhaps 50 pictures, and still later the first monthly archive files
SunSITE's server meltdown
August 5, 1995
The central Superhighway site called ``sunsite.unc.edu'' collapsed in the morning before the release. News about the release had been leaked by a German hacker group, Harmonious Hardware Hackers, who had cracked into the author's computer earlier in the week. They had got the release date wrong by one day, and caused dozens of eager fans to connect to the sunsite computer at the wrong time. ``No computer can handle that kind of stress,'' explained the mourning SunSITE manager, Erik Troan. ``The spinning disks made the whole computer jump, and finally it crashed through the floor to the basement.'' Luckily, repairs were swift and the computer was working again the same evening. ``Thank God we were able to buy enough needles and thread and patch it together without major problems.''

June 1996


An idea that was never quite fulfilled - watching television over the Internet. Here's the manual, which gives the basic requirements:
"A computer used to access the Program Guide must have a World Wide Web browser (such as Netscape Navigator, Microsoft Internet Explorer, or NCSA Mosaic) installed, and must have a TCP/IP network connection. A computer that is configured to run a browser on a network needs no additional software or hardware to access the Program Guide. The computer may be an IBM-compatible PC, a Macintosh, or a UNIX workstation. The Program Guide is compatible with any platform, as long as it has a Web browser and a TCP/IP connection."

Documenting the American South
October 1996

"Documenting the American South" (DAS) (http://docsouth.unc.edu), an electronic publishing initiative of the Academic Affairs Library at the UNC-Chapel Hill, was launched on SunSITE in October of 1996. Started as a modest effort to make publicly available the full text of a dozen slave narratives, the site now comprises ca. 150,000 pages of primary source materials, including slave narratives, autobiographies, diaries and memoirs, important works of Southern literature, Confederate imprints, and materials related to the Southern black church.

All works are freely available to anyone with Web access. DAS received several prestigious grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute for Museum and Library Services, and was 1996/97 and 1998/99 Award Winner of The Library of Congress/Ameritech National Digital Library Competition. A symposium to celebrate the addition of the 1000th title to our nationally acclaimed, award-winning digital library "Documenting the American South" will take place on March 1, 2002, in Wilson Library."

1997 Transition begins to MetaLab
May 30, 1997

UNC-CH's MetaLab was recently awarded an Academic Equipment Grant from Sun Microcomputer Systems in an international competition for excellence in information science research. The gift of over $170,000 worth of the latest Sun server technology, including an Enterprise Server 4000 with four 250Mhz processors and a gigabyte of RAM, will be used to update and improve the popular SunSITE program at UNC-CH. More....


Streaming video of Nobel prizewinner

'In 98 we hosted Nobel prizewinner Aung San Suu Kyi 's videotaped address on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the UN Declaration of Human Rights (smuggled out from her house in Rangoon where she's been detained for a decade). glen <glen@POBox.com>'

SunSITE becomes MetaLab
December 1, 1998

UNC began the process of transitioning from SunSITE.unc.edu to MetaLab.unc.edu

1999 Plant Information Center (PIC)

The Plant Information Center (PIC) is a is a partnership of the North Carolina Botanical Garden, UNC Herbarium, the UNC School of Information and Library Science, the McDougle Middle School, and the Orange County Public Library. The distinguishing feature of PIC is it's access to digital images of UNC Herbarium specimens. PIC's main goal is to promote the flow of scientific information to researchers, amateur botanists, students (elementary through higher education), and other communities interested in botanical science.

2000 MetaLab becomes ibiblio

University of North Carolina and Red Hat Center launch ibiblio.org, "a lively, noisy, Jacksonian library"


LinuxFocus was added
as part of linuxdoc.org
July 2001




A Case Study In The Organizational Development Of A Digital Library: SunSITE - MetaLab - Ibiblio by Serena Fenton

D-Lib, the Digital Library Magazine article on sunsite.unc.edu, February 1996, by Judson Knott and Paul Jones

more ibiblio history from 1997 by Mark McCarthy

last updated July 28, 2002

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