Last week I noted that The E-Sylum was founded on September 4, 1998. Garrett Ziss (age 12) writes:
Happy 17th Birthday to The E-Sylum! Did you know that another helpful numismatic resource was started on the same day as The
E-Sylum? Google was also founded on September, 4 1998. Of course you can google Google to get more information!
I shared this with Anne Bentley, who writes:
That's a hoot, Wayne! And you're both still going strong.
Wow - I didn't know that! That's a great coincidence. At the end of 1998 I quit my software development job to become a Product
Manager for a search engine company - Lycos, Inc. Clearly, I hitched my wagon to the wrong horse. It was a great experience, though - one of the best
jobs I've ever had.
A couple years earlier I was showing one of our company sales guys how I'd learned to use some early Internet tools to find and
download software I could use for a project. Big deal, right? Well, now it's commonplace, but in 1996 it wasn't. I told him,
"This is going to change the world."
That was before the World Wide Web and the Mosaic browser which suddenly made all the Internet's content much more accessible. But
it was already accessible to me, as a geek who knew how to press all the right technical buttons. Opening the 'net up to the masses
truly did change the world.
I taught myself HTML and built the NBS web site. Then I used what I learned at work, and built one of the world's first commercial
platforms (a self-service provisioning portal for a telephone company). Then I started what we now know as The E-Sylum. Initially,
it was a platform to update NBS members and friends on changes to the NBS website. But little by little it got bigger and bigger, like
Clifford the Big Red Dog. And now it's huge.
The Internet is huge now, too, and has changed almost every aspect of numismatics. Where once we were basically the ONLY club
e-newsletter in the country (if not the world), now nearly every organization has one. And nearly every club, museum, auction house and
Mom-and-Pop coin dealer has a web site.
But have we finally arrived at the glorious end state? Is this all there is? I'm reminded of what my highly-compensated C-level
management at Lycos told me when I asked for funding to purchase some hardware to build a cluster of PCs to replace the hulking
million-dollar DEC Alpha supercomputers we'd been using to host the search engine:
"All the money's already been made in search."
My jaw drops even now, just as it did back then. They honestly thought that the search business had become a commodity, that it was
everywhere, cheap, and there was no way to squeeze more money out of it. So they wouldn't invest.
So guess what? A little company with a funny name - Google - came along and showed them just how wrong they were. Search and the Internet
in general have moved light years beyond those quaint early days.
So as numismatists, we shouldn't get too comfortable with the status quo. Sure, numismatic Internet auctions, electronic publishing,
eBay, e-newsletters, and social media are all great. But technology doesn't stand still. And it's going to change the world all
over again. And when Garrett's my age, he'll look back on today as the quaint early days. Stay tuned. You ain't seen
To read the earlier E-Sylum article, see:
WAYNE'S WORDS: THE E-SYLUM AUGUST 30, 2015
Wayne Homren, Editor
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