First Memories: Tery Spataro

First Memories: Tery Spataro

Tery Spataro shares her memories of getting online, learning to code, and developing her first corporate website, for Reebok in 1995. She gives praise to the women and some men that inspired her, had the patience to teach her and believed in her. Among the people she is grateful for helping her along the way is Caroline Kavanagh, Jerry Nevins, Courtney Pulitzer, Brenda Goodell, Marvin Chow, Kathy Driscoll, Stacy Horn, and Aliza Sherman.

The Women’s Internet History Project is about honoring the women who were inspired by digital, technology and internet, got involved in the early days to bring it to life. WIHP is also about our connections to each and how we helped each other.

March 31, 2015 Posted Under: Featured   Read More

First Memories: Aliza Sherman

First Memories: Aliza Sherman

Aliza Sherman shares her memories about her first encounters with computers and the Internet including founding Cybergrrl, Inc. and Webgrrls International. Aliza’s first computer  was the Amstrad 1640. She pays tribute to Stacy Horn, of ECHONYC.

March 26, 2015 Posted Under: Featured   Read More

First memories: Eleanor Haas

First memories: Eleanor Haas

Eleanor HaasIN THE BEGINNING

Somehow, I knew intuitively the Internet was the future as soon as I heard about it in the mid-90s. But what was it? News media were no help. Business friends thought I was crazy. Except one, a former client of my management consulting firm named Laura Berland. She had become an entrepreneur and was in the process of co-founding Orb, one of the first interactive ad agencies. She and her partner needed a business plan, which I undertook. Further, she could get me comped to some of the conferences. That’s where I learned and learned and learned – about technology and about the Internet – and where I found new friends galore, friends who did not think I was flakey because they too got it about the Internet.

Orb kept morphing – we call it pivoting today – and that was something new in strategic planning. Another learning experience. Laura then referred me to a friend who was also an early Internet entrepreneur. He too needed a business plan, and I obliged. One person led to another, and I became Queen of the Business Plan for technology and Internet entrepreneurs.

Also in the mid-90s, I had a call from a member of the MIT Enterprise Forum of NYC board. She was trying to put together an expo as part of an Enterprise Forum event that would feature a satellite broadcast by someone we’d never heard of who claimed he’d invented the Internet – and he had. That’s how we learned about Tim Berners-Lee.

My role in organizing the expo became so intense – and the expo was a great success – that I became a member of the board of the Enterprise Forum, which was doing great technology events but had no outreach to anyone knowledgeable about the Internet. So thanks to my new friends, I was able to recruit a network of about 22 volunteers and to organize planning teams of 6-8. We did fabulous events. And I learned and learned and learned!

Jerry Rubin had launched awareness of “networking” in the late 80s, but it was Burt Alimansky who took it to new heights for those of us involved in technology and the internet – entrepreneurs, investors, bankers, executives of major corporations and service providers. He did it by organizing and running the New York Venture Group, a series of monthly seminars, where major thought leaders spoke, often on panels, and the rest of us networked and learned. So many new ideas! So many new friends – many of them still friends today!

Burt also ran a series of business plan events at the Harvard Club, where a panel of experts critiqued technology and Internet business plans. An amazing learning experience! A great source of new friends!

Through it all I remember a blonde kid pulling a wagon of stenciled newsletters – not photocopied, mimeographed, really old technology! The kid was Jason Calacanis, aged 26 (he looked younger), and the newsletter was one of the first two Internet and technology print publications: Silicon Alley Reporter. Before long, it was a handsome, bound magazine on glossy stock. Jason also pioneered Internet “radio,” for which he hosted a weekly show. I know because I was a guest on that show. We “broadcast” from a glass studio in the center of a Soho loft that housed Pseudo on Friday night with a wild party of stoned entrepreneurs raging around us. Jason went on to pioneer blog networks and become a thought leader, entrepreneur and angel investor.

The other ground-breaking print publication was AlleyCat News, founded by Janet Stites and Anna Wheatley, the first medium in any format to focus on venture capital opportunities in technology and the Internet. I was proud to author an article for them.

During the same years, I was introduced to the WWWAC Biz Sig (pronounced WACK-BIZ-SIG for World Wide Web Artists Consortium Business Special Interest Group). We met weekly at Lubin Auditorium in the East 60s – techie developers and entrepreneurs – and we explained ourselves and our insights about technology and the Internet. I was invited to speak about strategic planning for the Internet on a panel that included Ben Boissevain, and soon he and I became partners in E-Technologies Associates, LLC, a boutique SEC-licensed investment bank that specialized in technology and the Internet.

It was a thrilling time – a wonderful beginning! And yes, the beginning of the future!

March 15, 2015 Posted Under: Featured   Read More

First memories: Courtney Pulitzer

First memories: Courtney Pulitzer

Courtney Pulitzer remembering the early days of digital, technology and the internet. Courtney talks about getting online, and her first experience coding. She pays tribute to Stacy Horn, ECHONYC and Aliza Sherman.

March 10, 2015 Posted Under: Featured   Read More

Celebrating Women’s History Month 2015

Celebrating Women’s History Month 2015

In celebration of Women’s History Month, I asked the members of the Women’s Internet History project provide a minute or more video, reflecting on a story to share about their experiences being women working, participating, contributing to digital and technology, and their early days of the internet prior to the year 2000.

March 7, 2015 Posted Under: Featured   Read More

Preserving the History of Women Who Inspired the Usage and Purpose of the Internet

Women’s Internet History Project is dedicated to preserving the stories and contributions from women who were the pioneers of the early internet days 1980-1999. This project provides the biographies, contributions, experiences and connections shared by women who were involved with internet and digital.

Mission: The premise of this project is to provide a platform to tell our stories, connect with one another, and celebrate the accomplishments of women in every aspect of the Internet evolution.

We’re building a historical record of women in the Internet history over a 20 year span.

The project is co-founded by Tery Spataro and Aliza Sherman.

June 14, 2010 Posted Under: About   Read More

Stacy Horn

Stacy Horn

Why did you first get online?

1982. I was working in telecommunications and I came across what were then

called electronic bulletin boards systems, aka BBS’s. I explored them for a

while, but they were filled with teenage boys, and while they were occasionally

charming in a “Big Bang Theory” way, they weren’t places I wanted to keep

coming back to.

 

Then in 1986 I entered the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at

NYU. We were given an assignment to call an online community in California

called The WELL. For me, that experience was nothing short of mind-blowing.

For people under a certain age, the extent of The WELL’s mind-blowingness is

going to seem incomprehensible, because this kind of access it utterly routine

now. But in the 1980s very few people were online, it was mostly guys, having

mostly technical discussions, (or the kind of youthful discussions I’d found earlier)

and there was simply no place like The WELL. On The WELL I had daily access

to a diverse group of smart, funny people, people I’d never meet, or even know

existed otherwise. Mind. Boom.

 

When did you first get involved with digital/tech and why?

I was in my twenties and I wanted to be a writer, but I needed a job and a way to

pay the rent, like now. There was an ad in the paper that went something along

the lines of, “Someone who is as comfortable with machines as they are with

people.” I had zero experience with machines besides a car, or a tv. Wait, is a tv

even considered a machine? Anyway, I couldn’t resist that ad.

The position paid more than any other I’d applied for, and they offered to each

me about computers and telecommunications. I took the job. I’d never touched

a computer before. Turns out: I am good with machines. Turns out, I love them.

 

How would you describe your work and professional interests in the

1990’s (or 80’s etc).

Well, I still wanted to be a writer, and after the newness of my experience

wore off I started to get depressed. That’s why I went to grad school. I felt

trapped and I was looking for a way out. ITP offered this wonderful new media

playground, where you were pretty much ordered to explore, risk and play. I

spent a lot of time trying to make interactive fiction work, but this was 1986 –

1989 and the tools were very limited. I tried to use something called Knowledge

Pro and then Hypercard came out, but neither could do what I wanted them to

I was in my last year and while I’d had the time of my life, I still needed a way

to pay the rent, like now. I was on The WELL one day and someone said, “I

heard you were going to start a WELL-like service in New York.” I’d never

contemplated any such thing, but the minute I read that I was kicking myself for

not thinking of it first. “Yes,” I immediately typed back in, “I am.”

I spent my last semester writing a business plan, then in the summer I

incorporated, and by the fall the new online service I’d started, Echo, was up in

running. I opened it to the public in early 1990.

 

What do think the future will hold internet/digital/tech?

For better or worse (mostly better) the internet and all the applications that go

with it have broken down a lot of boundaries. One of those boundaries is the

boundary of power. The United States will become less and less important, but

not in a bad way, I don’t think. It’s just that the rest of the world has risen and will

continue to rise in importance, and in power and influence.

No one gives up power without a battle, or accepts change without resistance.

For instance, the divide between liberal and conservative in this country is at its

most acrimonious right now, just as America is slowly becoming more fair and

more just (black president, increased civil rights for gays, etc.) So there are

going to be problems all over the world, as we all start to blend into each other a

tiny bit, and then more and more, some rising a little, some falling (or perceiving

that they are falling).

 

We’re going to lose some things in the process. For example, NYC has lost a lot

of its uniqueness over the last two decades. That is going to continue happen

on a world-wide scale. But loss is inevitable. And the gain, which I can only

compare to my initial WELL experience, except on a global scale and more

slowly, is absolutely worth it.

September 19, 2013 Posted Under: Featured   Read More

Design of Relational Database

Design of Relational Database
This is a relational database with a web site interface. The platform will display bios and contributions and historical timeline. It will also overlap current events, women’s history and internet history from 1980-1999 onto the biographies.
November 13, 2012 Posted Under: About   Read More

Gabrielle Shannon

Gabrielle Shannon

Why did you first get online?

Some time in early 1994. Didn’t do much for me in the early days, but Kyle (my husband) seemed excited about it.

When did you first get involved with digital and why?

In the early summer of 1994, Kyle and I took a 2 week vacation to the mountains of Pennsylvania and he brought all of his computer equipment. We had been kicking around an idea to do an art & culture magazine since there was NOTHING online other than research papers and library catalogs. We didn’t know a lot technically, but I focused on the content and he did the design and coding to get the first version of Urban Desires (www.desires.com) up in a basic form. As I remember, we put together a basic format and table of contents and started from there.
Over the next couple of weeks, I gathered art and content from a stable of some very talented friends who were writers artists and designers in NY and Kyle put it into our template and by the early fall of 1994, Urban Desires launched to the world. We knew we had something unique ( with 50,000hits per day by the second day ) but had no idea what the Internet really provided, which is a potential global audience to anything you offer up. This was brought home to us one month later when the Parisian newspaper Liberatiôn had a full page feature on the site we just launched. It was wild to see such an immediate response from the other side of the world.
How would you describe your work and professional interests in the 1990’s (or 80’s etc).

I was all about being the Editor-in-Chief of Urban Desires. I loved it. I spent my time conceiving pieces, finding interesting artists and writers and working with my husband’s company (AGENCY.COM) which did the design and development work. It was all about the creative and I really found my voice during that period from 1994-2000. While the Internet was an amazing channel (and remains so) I believed then as I do now that it’s less about the technology than what you choose to do with it. It was a very intense time and as Urban Desires started winding down, I got pregnant with twins (born in July 1999) and had a new project I had to focus on. ;-)
What do you think the future will hold for internet/digital?
Hard to say, but it’s looking a lot like we talked about in those early days… that the Internet—as something distinct from other media—would fade in its novelty and become part of the overall communications landscape. It looks like mobile devices and tablets are shifting things a bit, but the trend of everything and everyone being interconnected is expanding.  I don’t think it will be long before we can barely remember what it was like before the Internet. In a lot of ways, I think the future is already here.
May 2, 2011 Posted Under: Featured   Read More

Dina Kaplan

Dina Kaplan

Why did you first get online?

I first got online in college.  This was 1991 and 1992, and every few weeks I’d head to a computer room in a public building to check this weird but cool new thing called email.  I’d send out a few messages and then return weeks later to see if the person I was connecting with had responded.  My friends at Dartmouth were the best at answering emails, I remember, because the school had made it a priority for students to be connected.  That seemed geeky, fascinating and possibly excessive.

I also have a strong memory of emailing people during my first job after college, at the White House.  More than a year into the job we learned that all of our emails would become public after a certain number of years so that presidential archivists could learn more about the administration.  This was scary to us.  These were the early days of email, and online access, and it seemed like a bold new frontier.  We shamelessly emailed about social plans and the like, and it never occurred to any of us that someone might, at some point, sift through these emails while recording history.

When did you first get involved with digital and why?

I first got involved with digital in a meaningful way when we started blip.tv in 2005.  Until then, digital had seemed like a burden, especially as an overworked TV reporter asked to now file online reports in addition to each day’s television stories.

I got involved because I had always been interested in entrepreneurship, particularly because my father, a Harvard Business School professor, had stressed the importance of entrepreneurs to the American economy throughout my childhood.  I had also become friends with Mike Hudack and was a bit in awe of him.  I told myself when we met that if I knew one person who could be the next Bill Gates, it was Mike.  And that if he ever started an internet company that made sense to me, I would stop whatever I was doing and join.

In 2005 he said he was thinking about starting a company that would enable people to share videos on the Web.  This sounded a bit crazy, but interesting, especially with my background in television.  At the time, I was a TV reporter.  He asked me to test out the new blip.tv video hosting software when I headed to the Cannes film festival the following week.  I ended up filing some of the first stories on blip.tv, which were reports from the 2005 Cannes Film Festival, shot by people I had stopped on the street and asked to hold a video camera for me.

Distant friends and acquaintance ended up somehow seeing these stories, and I began to understand the power of what this could all mean.  At the time the Internet was a text delivery mechanism.  Photos and audio were beginning to be shared, but mostly by early adopters.  It made sense that video could be next, and I wanted to be along for the journey to see if this might happen.  I joined blip.tv as a co-founder the week I returned from Cannes.

How would you describe your work and professional interests in the 1990’s (or 80’s etc).

In the 1990s I worked in the White House, for MTV News, and then as a TV reporter, mostly for local NBC affiliates.  Exploring the Internet on your own seemed a bit scary and unmanageable in the early 1990s, and I remember being grateful to AOL for making the Web easier to navigate.  In the mid 90s some of my friends started working at Double Click, and one of them seemed prescient.  He told me kids in college were starting to listen to music downloaded from the Internet, and this seemed really cool and futuristic.  I remember pitching to my bosses at MTV News, maybe two dozen times, a story on MP3s.  Each time I was shot down, with my bosses insisting people wanted the liner notes for songs and the album or CD packaging.  Finally, months later, Time Magazine did a story on MP3s and I was sent to Dartmouth to cover the story.  I was furious, however, that I wasn’t the first reporter to cover download-able music.  I knew there was something there.
Later in the ’90s, and early in the 21st century, digital was a distraction.  Posting my television pieces, as a TV reporter, to the Web just seemed like extra work.  The reporters at my station all wanted our news director and general manager to hire a second tier “digital” staff to handle the Web aspects of the network and our news coverage.  We felt a bit above that.  If only we knew then what we know now!
What do think the future will hold internet/digital?

In terms of what the future will hold, I think we’re early in how disruptive digital will be to traditional businesses, whether it’s retail, media, health care or others.  In terms of media, we’ll see a bit of a merging between traditional and new media.  With your Google TV, roku or Sony Bravia TV you can flip between network shows and blip.tv originally produced Web series that are every bit as entertaining.

And you can already watch both in your living room, on your big screen TV.  This will become more mainstream over the next 5 years.  Also, more advertising dollars will continue flowing into Web shows, and as that money gets funneled to the show producers, their content will get better, and the episodes will become longer.  Web shows will begin to look increasingly like TV shows.  Talented people will soon begin to think carefully about whether they want to pitch a show to a network TV boss; or simply do it on their own and distribute the show across digital networks.

November 5, 2010 Posted Under: Featured   Read More

Margaret Bates

Margaret Bates
Why did you first get online?
I used an intranet at Citibank as a VP in the Humanware department, from 1989 to 1991; at Downtown Digital, in the early 90’s, I used AOL.
When did you first get involved with digital and why?
My first involvement with digital was producing computer-assisted video discs in the 80’s.  One project was for RCA labs so workers could train & meet  OSHA requirements on chemical safety. In one lesson, the video showed a worker using chemicals & the digital overlay asked the trainee to touch any clothing that didn’t meet OSHA requirements.
How would you describe your work and professional interests in the 1990’s (or 80’s etc).
In the early 80’s after graduate school, my first project was the interactive IBM Heritage videodisc. It was analog, but I became fascinated with interactive technology. I worked as a researcher and then scriptwriter and went on to write scripts and project manage for Videodisc Publishing.  It was an exciting time working in organizations such as IICS and later NYNMA. Then I learned a lot at the bank about interface design, working on projects to help both internal & external clients develop ways to invest discretionary income. The most exciting project in the early 90’s was RCTV/Downtown Digital, AT&T’s pioneering interactive television project. I was director of production for a trial  and then I focused the the web as director of new business development. Following that I had a brief stint at THINK New Ideas, and learned about marketing after so much R&D work.
I’ve always been interested in teaching, and during that time taught about videodisc development and then interactive television at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. I went on to teach full time at City College, including classes on web development.
What do think the future will hold internet/digital?
I think everything points to even more use of mobile screens since there are so many apps that let you do everything from finding your way to a restaurant to ordering groceries to make meals at home. Right now I can see on the Internet if there are any washing machines available in the basement – if only I could actually do the wash virtually & remotely! Social networking will take over email completely for all demographics, not just teens.
September 1, 2010 Posted Under: Featured   Read More