March 20, 2007 4:00 AM PDT

Blogs turn 10--who's the father?

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Some of Carmack's frequent updates described programming accomplishments, such as "made qport more random" and "fixed map reconnecting." Others were conversational: "Quake has bugs. I freely acknowledge it, and I regret them. However, Quake 1 is no longer being actively developed, and any remaining bugs are unlikely to be fixed. We would still like to be aware of all the problems, so we can try to avoid them in Quake 2."

The humble .plan file even played a role in the early history of the Linux kernel. In July 1991, as part of his first public post about the kernel, Linux developer Linus Torvalds asked for help with operating system standards. As an aside, he also mentioned a tweak to his .plan file to make it change automatically, and that was what generated far more attention.

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Torvalds' Usenet post was eventually seen by Ari Lemmke, who gave Linux its name (Torvalds had proposed "Freax") and who provided an online home for what would become one of the world's most popular operating systems, according to Torvalds' own history.

Putting a 'finger' on blogging's birth
Dot-plan files were read through the "finger" command, which is so antique it actually dates back to the pre-Internet days of the ARPAnet.

It was created in the early 1970s by Les Earnest, who had already invented the first spell-checker and the first successful cursive writing recognizer. Earnest is currently a senior research scientist emeritus at Stanford University's computer science department, an enthusiastic bicyclist and a cycling association official. (Read the rest of an interview with Earnest).

"It was used in much the same way as blogs are now--that is, the .plan file was intended to be just a way to tell people where you were going to be," Earnest said in a telephone interview. "If you were going off on vacation or a trip or something, or were just going to sleep for a while, you could post that in your .plan file. But then people noticed that it could be used as a statement of personal views on things and they started doing that...(For) expressing your personal views on things, it was very much like a blog, a personal blog."

Earnest's creation of the "finger" command and .plan file became an official standard (RFC 742) in December 1977 and was updated in 1991. (Along the way, of course, it also led to innumerable jokes about how to "finger me" among oversexed computer science undergraduates.)

Plan files, or at least instructions on how to read them, found their way onto business cards and into the Geek Code, a mid-1990s method of describing how geeky someone is.

Students used them to keep journals, post schedules, or talk about tae kwon do practice. In 1994, one undergraduate student at Carnegie Mellon University created a rambling online diary in his .plan file that was hundreds of pages long. Some still exist today.

Because they were merely text files, however, even the most sophisticated .plan files could not include features we take for granted in blogs today: RSS, CSS, trackbacks, formatted text, hyperlinks, and of course, comments.

Those were gradually added after the Web was created, and Justin Hall was one of the first Web-based diarists to experiment with this then-novel medium. He was profiled by the Times for his very personal diaries at links.net, which began when he was a student at Swarthmore College. Hall is now working on a research area that he calls passively multiplayer online games.

In an interview on Monday, Hall said he started in January 1994. "I was inspired by every home page I saw online--a picture of some scientist and his dog, his collection of old English riddles, whatever--it was so simple and trivial, I thought, it can't be hard to post a page here," he said. "It wasn't hard at all! Once I found a way to post my pages up, I could create more and more interlinked text."

Hall doesn't claim to be the first blogger; rather, he said he prefers thinking of spontaneous appearances of similar sites. "Where was the first printing press with movable type?" he asked. "Good luck tracking that down."

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28 comments

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First real blog was...
NCSA's What's New page was without a doubt the prototypical
Weblog. It was in all respects identical to today's blogs, carrying
snippets of info about new sites that shown up on the brand
new "Web" the day before. It was maintained by a couple of
editors and was one of the most-viewed sites on the early World
Wide Web.

For all of the spin and hype from people like Dave Winer and
others, it is an inescapable fact that this weblog predates their
efforts by 5 or 6 years, used HTML, was updated several times a
day, and was a weblog in every sense except for the
terminology.
Posted by cshotton (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Agree with your logic
Even in the more blog-like "online diary" sense, there were similar
web pages up long before the people talked about in the article.

As for Winer, maybe he was too busy spouting insults in the real
world before he worked out he could get a bigger audience in the
online world. ;)
Posted by dotmike (154 comments )
Link Flag
first real blog.. THIS IS IT!~!!!
seriously.. this is the answer.. NCSA.. dave winer? blah..

check this out..
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.coolwebsites.org/septcool.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.coolwebsites.org/septcool.html</a>

my first blog.. labor day 1996... exactly as was..
Posted by djpaisley (80 comments )
Link Flag
I did it in '96!
I had a weblog on my personal homepage that I called a Digital Diary, back in 1996. It was tech related observations and comments on news items. I have changed websites over the years, but I've always maintained the diary. I still do it on my site www.SteveJordanBooks.com, under the name Techlog.

I personally never liked the name "blog," but if that's what everyone else wants to call it, okay.
Posted by Steve Jordan (126 comments )
Reply Link Flag
offline blogging in 1993
While being away in 1993 on a 6 month student exchange I
programmed a little diary application which used hypertext and
tags to track my daily activities.

The daily entries where shown on the home page and different
words where linked to my money tracker (typing "stamps" would
popup a window asking for the amount of stamps and then
calculated the expenses, the same worked for bus tickets,
sandwiches etc.) The program allowed to search for posts and to
add additional notes. When my friends came over, they were
able to add their own witty comments to the entries, making it a
nice memory of my semester as AFS student.

There were various login/user levels and the program even
exported certain parts of my entries to text files for e-mailing
them overseas to family and friends.

That offline program was similar in many ways to todays
Wordpress platform however it was written on a PowerBook 170
using HyperCard...

Too bad I had protected the HyperCard stack with a password
which I've now forgotten. The diary is still here but cannot be
opened any more... Duh!
Posted by joebuff75 (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Self Centered Bloggers
This article is interesting and seems to me very one sided. So we believe we invented something new, really new! A way to express ourselves, our believes and do this in a public forum. BLOGS...yeah! Looking closely the whole discussion about who had the first blog, who wrote it, seems irrelevant. Isn't what the blog offers something that we should cherish?

Now an article over the phenomenon of blogs would be much more interesting. A blog used to voice an opinion is one, a blog blabbing about everything in the information age where you just toss out useless information is are the two ends of a spectrum. The consequences of the two are different, that is the key to see culture evolve and see change.

I would contest that Karl Kraus in 1899 had a blog! Relative to the technology in existence. I also believe that he is probably not the earliest "blogger".

The Torch was Karl Kraus' medium and it is a source for the history of the time, for its language and its transgressions. Karl Kraus in his own typical and idiosyncratic manner dealt with the themes of journalism and war, of sex and crime, of politics and corruption, of literature and lying. The influential journal ?Die Fackel? comprises in literally thousands of texts an enormous thematic variety in a great number of different text types, such as essays, notes, commentaries, aphorisms, poems, drama and other literary expressions.

So when I see this you have to ask the question, what are we really looking for? The first technology that allowed voicing your opinion on the internet on stuff? I would start with forums then. Or do we look for the social impact, commentary and documentation of the times that have value long after we are gone.

This is what I never understood about the whole blog hype; there was a way of doing this log before we put the label on it. Is it really important to read someone?s journal on the web? Is this itself a something that needs to be documented that we got so lonely that we have to tell a web audience in relative anonymity about our day? Why is this, is it because we forgot how to communicate with each other. How to listen?

So I think if you want to find the first blog or blogger you have to go way back and frankly '72 in your chronology does not cut it! Seems to me a very self centered view only considering a certain technology, but not the problem addressed.
Posted by fhinner (64 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What's the new maryjane?
What a shame Dave Winer had a pain at the party! (With
apologies to John Lennon, who wrote "What a Shame Mary Jane"
-- a rare Beatles outtake).

For what it's worth, I started writing a diary online as of Nov. 2,
1995 (at 6 p.m.). It's title: "What's the New Maryjane?" and you
can still read it: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.rockument.com/thought2.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.rockument.com/thought2.html</a>

The first entry quotes Thomas Pynchon: "In the name of the
cathode, the anode, and the holy grid." I called it a "web
broadcast."

As a newsletter editor, on Dec. 25, 1996, I converted my
newsletter into a free online column called "The Bove &#38; Rhodes
Report" and its first entry can be found here:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.rockument.com/bove01.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.rockument.com/bove01.html</a>

Maybe these weren't the first, but online diaries and columns
were proliferating way before Winer and others created RSS. Give
them credit for the structure of delivery and the technology, but
not the idea.
Posted by tonybove (12 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Keith Dawson
This is an excellent history. Good to document the way we used to work. But I'm disappointed that Keith Dawson's JargonScout isn't mentioned. That's where I learned the word "blog" in 1999: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.tbtf.com/jargon-scout.html#blog" target="_newWindow">http://www.tbtf.com/jargon-scout.html#blog</a>
Posted by tbc0 (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Tim Berners-Lee?
Is Tim Berners-Lee the first blogger in Alice in Blogosphere?


<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://thedialogs.org/2007/01/24/alice-in-blogosphere/" target="_newWindow">http://thedialogs.org/2007/01/24/alice-in-blogosphere/</a>
Posted by JHitrov (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
HTML Blog in 1994
After starting an early ISP, io.com, SJ Games kicked off a blog to advertise our upcoming games (which at the time were Illuminati: New World Order, a card game, and In Nomine, a role-playing game). The Daily Illuminator ran from 1994 uninterrupted to the present day. It meets this article's blog criteria: in HTML, dated entries bottom to top, archives available for browsing.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.sjgames.com/ill/past.columns.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.sjgames.com/ill/past.columns.html</a>

I don't remember thinking we were doing anything special at the time; it seemed like a natural extension of the regular communications we'd had with customers over the years.
Posted by Derek Pearcy (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Cyborganic's Geek Cereal and Justin Hall's were the first!
When I was working at Cyborganic at the ripe old age of 18 way back in 1996 we built an episodic blog in PERL/CGI that featured 6 or 7 dot.commers based in SF called Geek cereal. I believe this was the first "ad supported Blog for Profit" that was launched. At the same time, Cyborganic's sister company (and Jonathan Steuer's literal brother's company) launched a New York based version called, "The Couch".

In addition to this.. I always thought Justin Hall's "Links from the Underground" site.. gosh I think it was based at links.org.. This was a site where he blogged about interesting links that were starting to show up on the very new internet.. as well as bloggin about his travels throughout America introducing the internet to the people..
Posted by jdrefahl (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
g21 First Blogger Documented
Rod Amis is the longest Blogger on the Internet, his blog, 'Don't
Read Me First', later renamed 'My Glass House', found it's way to
WWW, through Mr. Rod Amis's ZINE, G21.

The Zine hit the WWW back in 1995. And it has never left. His
Blog, a journal about his life and travels, has been requested to
be turned into a biography.

Mr. Amis, a trained writer, has been publisher &#38; editor of his
ZINE for 16 years, the first five were a paper journal, that was US
MAILED delivered (snail-mail) to a list of dedicated subscribers.

It can't be disputed, because the ZINE and blog have had the
same URL since it creation on the WWW. Yes the word was ZINE.

Mr. Amis has found himself jobless and homeless over the years,
but he was still able to deliver the ZINE and the Blog 'My Glass
House', on a bi-weekly schedule, that he rarely missed. He has
produced the Zine &#38; Blog while living in 6 locations over the last
16 years. A true testament to coffee house editing, and wireless
hook-ups.

g21.net

rod@g21.net
Posted by thecatch (49 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I blogged before the war
Depends which war aye!
Posted by t8 (3716 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Bruce Simpson 1995
Every week day since 1995 on technology etc at www.aardvark.co.nz
Posted by ndhbol54qw1 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Blogging from the dawn of time
Over in the old country, ZDNet.co.uk has a blog running from 1996. It's still going, even in these CNet days, which must be some sort of record.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://community.zdnet.co.uk/blog/0,1000000567,199611-2000331777b,00.htm" target="_newWindow">http://community.zdnet.co.uk/blog/0,1000000567,199611-2000331777b,00.htm</a>

Back then of course it was known by the archaic name of a 'diary'. Well, if it's good enough for Pepys...

Rupert
Posted by rupertg (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
David Rodale was the first blogger via PARTI
In 1984, David Rodale used the PARTI software on the Source to document the events of his daily life and, ultimately, death (AIDS).

The Source was the first internationally accessible (thanks to Telnet and TYMNET networks) consumer timesharing service available to dialup subscribers for comparatively low hourly rates.

PARTIcipate, the Source's licensed "conferencing" software (aka tree-structured BBS with a slew of innovative capabilities), made it easy for Source members to read and comment on other members' individually generated, long-running threaded-message journals, or logs, or discussions ("conferences"), and also to selectively point to or retrieve single posts within individual journals.

Ask Joi Ito. He was there around that time, a young kid who "ported" (by downloading and then reuploading) PARTI conferences to TWICS, the network in Japan that was roughly similar to the Source or EIES. I'm sure he'd remember David Rodale's PARTI conference.

Alternatively, see this: <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://cgi.gjhost.com/~cgi/mt/netweaverarchive/000155.html" target="_newWindow">http://cgi.gjhost.com/~cgi/mt/netweaverarchive/000155.html</a>
Posted by Slooze (15 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well what have we discoverd.....
Seems 1995 for modern times was the date to shoot for. And
then a dispute over what blogging is, would then need to be
ironed out.

This is an interesting discussion, because so much of tech.
history is being falsely recorded, mostly by the Valley co.s who
have big media machines behind them.

I run a company and my founder has been in the business going
on 45 to 50 years. He started at IBM after being plucked out of
the US Military, and then went to what they called IBM college.
He was teaching it 1 year later, at the US Air Force Division.

He went onto RAND. He is a systems and OS expert, but he has
told me that at RAND and other places he worked, things were
being invented on a monthly basis. But it was G12 clearance in
those days, and you weren't walking home after work and telling
the world or your wife, what you had created that day, or what
you had seen created.

It would be a good time to at least get some different opinions
and versions of how it all went down. Or we might be left with
AL GORE really getting all the credit for inventing the Internet.

The Internet and all it's tools like the Browser, would be a good
place to start, concerning correcting the history being recorded
surrounding it's creation.
Posted by thecatch (49 comments )
Reply Link Flag
http://www.coolwebsites.org/septcool.html 9-1-96
labor day 1996.. and this wasn't the daily update we had been doing on the home page of the ISP I ran at the time... which was i think 9600 - 14.4 modem switching time.. or was it 14.4 to 28.8?

hmm...
Posted by djpaisley (80 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Edith Frost's Blog - 1991
Singer/Songwriter Edith Frost started a blog back in July 1991.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.edithfrost.com/index.php/weblog/comments/notes_from_brooklyn/" target="_newWindow">http://www.edithfrost.com/index.php/weblog/comments/notes_from_brooklyn/</a>
Posted by writinguy (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I was wrong
1991-95 was offline electronic journaling... 1996 was when she went online with it.
Posted by writinguy (2 comments )
Link Flag
Excite Writers Blogs1996
We called them Web Tours back then:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.trottamedia.com/fitnesstour.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.trottamedia.com/fitnesstour.html</a>
and did short columns each week:
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.trottamedia.com/exciteindex.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.trottamedia.com/exciteindex.html</a>
All best,
GT
Posted by gtrotta (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
And In Some Federal Court Somewhere....
...Al Gore filed his paternity claim.
Posted by CarpalDiem (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Almost, but not quite, a pioneer
I began using the Internet in 1994, I think, and since I had a love for journaling and writing since I was a kid, it only made sense that I would search for a medium that allowed me to do this through online media.

Voila! I discovered OpenDiary.com, which was around when I began my first blog ever, there in 1998. And I'm still with the site and many others.

I love blogs, and with social media and Web 2.0 (YouTube, etc.), the power of Internet continues to fascinate me unendingly.

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://people.tribe.net/ecrivaine32" target="_newWindow">http://people.tribe.net/ecrivaine32</a>
Posted by Ecrivaine25 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
NASA Watch - online (blogging) since 1996
NASA Watch went online in April 1996 - and as been online ever
since. I was interviewed on PBS' Newshour about it on 29 Nov 1996
- see <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/fedagencies/" target="_newWindow">http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/fedagencies/</a>
nasa_11-29.html - at the time it was called "NASA RIF Watch". I
dropped the "RIF" after a year or so.

Keith Cowing
Editor
nasawatch.com
Posted by kcowing (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Steve Jackson Games, blogging since 1994
<a href="http://www.sjgames.com/ill/">The Daily Illuminator</a>, published by Steve Jackson Games, is a blog. <a href="http://www.sjgames.com/ill/past.columns.html">Its archives</a> go all the way back to November 1994.
Posted by Pat Berry (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
What about Diaryland? That's the first one I'd heard of, in 1999. I tried both LiveJournal and Diaryland and went with Diaryland, where I wrote for 8 years.
Posted by mdipoala (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Who was the first American Blogger?

In an antiquated world with no technology, Benjamin Franklin stood alone as the first and foremost blogger and social networker.

Franklin?s editorials were printed weekly in almost every newspaper in the American colonies, much like the blogs people post today. And each day of the week for over twenty years, he penned pithy sayings in Poor Richard?s Almanac?sayings that at under a hundred and forty characters long could easily be considered the same as tweets today. He also corresponded with over six hundred people worldwide by snail-mail on a yearly basis, more names than most people have in their entire email address book.

In extensive research on Ben Franklin for my new historical time travel novel, Lightning Strikes the Colonies, (to be published November 1st) it was interesting to learn that this incredible humanitarian, scientist, and journalist was the first to network world wide.
Posted by acefagan (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
I was doing a blog in June of 1982. I was blogging at my site Howard's Notebook, a BBS, until the world wide was invented in 1995 and then I moved it to the web. It is still going. I have been online 247/7 since 1982.
In March of 1984 Ric Manning wrote in "Link-Up" magazine about my site. Part of what Ric said is; "...One of the menu choices is a chatty letter from Howard that discusses his latest tinkering with the system or his opinions on the general state of BBS communication. Another menu choice reviews excerpts from Howard's fan mail, and a third contains information on computer groups, local BBS numbers and computer ham networks..."
Folks I say that was a blog and that was the birth of Howard's Notebook. I say I am the father of all blogs and the inventor of the blog!
You could even dial into my blog and from a list pick information and then my system would dial out on another modem and phone line and connect you to the other site.
I think my site has all the marks of a true blog. Now there may have been others doing it at the same time and even before me..I do not know of them...
The one fact I do know is that blogging was NOT invented in 1995 or 1996. I was blogging in 1982.
www.hnbdo.com www.showmeblog.com
Posted by hnbbs (2 comments )
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