Monday, 13 August 2007

It started with an email...

I first heard about the Internet in 1995 when I was in the design business. We had secured a project to design some exhibition posters for the Asian Aerospace Show. The deadline was looming ahead and our customer was not able to provide enough photos and information for us to work on.

"Do you have an email address? I'll get my UK principal to email you some pictures." He finally said in desperation.

We were sweating. Sure we've vaguely heard of the Internet but hardly anyone had an email address then. "Of course! We have an email address." Needless to say, we promptly contacted the one and only internet service provider to sign up for an account.

Internet was at its infancy, the ISP had no sales or support team. I remember lugging the CPU to their new office at the Science Park for their technical expert to configure. That afternoon, we received our first email from the UK! What a revelation!

Being one of the early adopters had its advantages. Intrigued by the power and potential of the Internet, we sent everyone for HTML training and began building websites for companies. We started speaking in jargon like Unix, Java, CGI, Macromedia and all that jazz.

I remember information on the Internet was still very lacking then. It's hard to believe that just over 10 years ago, I couldn't find a single Asian recipe on the Net! I capitalised on the opportunity to compile 2 Asian e-cookbooks and sold them through our service provider's portal. At that time, the buzzword was 'portal'. Everyone was trying to build one, thinking "If you build it, they will come."

I had grand dreams. I envisioned that if 1% of the Internet population bought my cookbooks at $3.99 each, I could be a millionaire very quickly. Of course, I sold a grand total of 5 e-books in pdf-format which I emailed to customers who paid up. The revenue wasn't enough to pay for my 'shop front' on the portal. I blamed it on the portal's lack of traffic. It didn't bring enough surfers to their site. If only I had the foresight of Jerry Yang....

Of course, now I fully understand how the Internet has evolved. Today, everyone can be a content provider. Who would have imagined that even a 5 year old can create his own blog?

Just for the hell of it, I googled for 'Asian recipes' and saw a search result of 3,310,000. Now I can get any recipe I want for FREE! What was I thinking?

9 comments:

The Real Mother Hen said...

Oh those days were FUN :) I do miss it you know Ting... I miss using HTML 1.0 for websites, even miss the sound of the dail-up modem! HECK!

JYankee said...

those WERE the days eh? when answering machines first kicked in...when people sent faxes and then called IMMEDIATELY after to see if it went thru...to all of us meeting in blogosphere and using chat lines...gosh...what'll happen next?

Anonymous said...

and the squawking modems...

Blur Ting said...

Yup, MH. Don't forget that's how we met! All because of the web projects!

JY - Yes, everything has changed so much right? Before the fax, remember telex?

One thing I don't miss is the squawking modem! :-P

JYankee said...

uh uhmmmm telex was before my time.......blur.....sorry.....

Blur Ting said...

Hah hah, you're younger than me of course. But I have never used the telex before myself.

HollyGL said...

Isn't it amazing. I wonder what the next five years will bring...

SOUL: said...

well, i'm sorry that your cookbook dreams didn't come true. but that's a pretty interesting and funny story.

i get tons of recipes online all the time. i rarely actually use a recipe, i more or less use them as an idea or a guide. except baking. i can't bake a thing. (like breads or desserts).. never got that one down.

anyhow..
i do hope everything, and everyone is well in your world!

Blur Ting said...

Thanks Soul. Hope all is well at your end too.

Sometimes ideas work, sometimes they don't. I am thinking of gorwing mushrooms now :-)

I don't really follow recipes to a T too. Mostly as a guideline. Those with long list of ingredients are the worst. I simply avoid them. I am not good at baking too but cookies are still quite manageable.