Magrathea/SFTV Page History
From BBS to .org
With the move to www.sftv.org, I thought it was time to document
some of the history of the Magrathea/SFTV pages. Where the idea came
from and where it might be going.
The Beginnings - Back in the early 80's, I got my
first computer with an Atari 800 and a cassette tape drive. Once
I got my 300 baud modem, I discovered the online world, such as it was.
Things were very different back then, limited mostly to BBSs, the FidoNet
message boards, and some access to the original internet and a few online
services like Compuserve and GEnie. As I upgraded my computer and
ended up with extra equipment, I decided to set up my own BBS. I
called it The Magrathea BBS since one of my favorite novel series and Infocom
computer games was Douglas Adam's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
Just in case you aren't familiar with it, Magrathea is the legendary planet
that builds other planets, and had built Earth for beings that were mice
in our dimension.
One of the reasons I put up Magrathea was to have a place for a
lot of the Sci Fi TV information files, graphic files and such that
people had been creating and posting to the message boards and other sites.
I also had message boards covering various topics for users to post to.
I had people calling up from all over the country to look at the files
and join in the conversations. I had one kid who tried to convince me he
was really Douglas Adams. The fact that he was calling at 300 baud,
using Atari ASCII and had no clue about his next novel coming out in about
a month didn't seem to deter him.
Magrathea grew over the years with better hardware, from an Atari
130XE upgraded to 320 K of RAM and a 1 MEG Ram Drive, eventually to an
Atari 520 ST with over 20 Megs of disk space and up to a 9600 baud modem
at the last. The message boards were pretty active and I kept adding
to the guides and other informational files. As I got more involved
with the local Phoenix, Arizona fandom, I added information on the local
conventions and fan clubs. The BBS kept going until the early 90's,
but as the other online resources grew (AOL, GEnie, and Compuserve plus
the internet), the usage on standalone BBSs, including Magrathea, dropped
and I eventually shut down the BBS.
The SFTV List - During the late 80's, there were a handful
of Science Fiction Television shows, most notably Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Several fans kept track of the schedules for those shows, posting updates
to the internet newsgroups and making them available on ftp sites.
The most notable was Mike Brown and his extensive Star Trek: TNG guide
and regular postings of the episode schedules and press releases to the
'net, which got reposted everywhere else. Since there was only a
handful of shows, it was fairly easy to keep up with the schedules then.
As we went into the early 90's, more and more shows made the airwaves,
some of them, such as The X-Files and Lois & Clark, not bothering to
put their episode titles on the screen. Since I was taping a lot
of them and was tracking down the episode titles (mostly via local newspaper
listings or postings to the 'net), I started organizing the info into a
schedule list that I started posting to the 'net and elsewhere. Several
ftp sites kept copies of my listings and other guides and such so that
people could get them that way. Also, thanks to the help of one of
my long-time BBS users, I got a mailing list set up for the regular Upcoming
SFTV listings that I had been posting to the net. The mailing list
itself has now grown to 1,800+ .
The Web - The World Wide Web began to appear in the early
90's as well. One of the ftp sites I had been keeping my listings
at, ftp.hyperion.com, evolved into one of the premier fan sites as The
Lurker's Guide to Babylon 5, getting it's start from the original Babylon
5 Frequently Asked Questions list which I had originated. Once
I was able to set up my own Web page off my goodnet account, I started
The Magrathea/SFTV Page and made my current SFTV listings and archive information
available. I also set up pages with links to the better Science Fiction
TV sites as well as links to various science fiction fandom and local Arizona
fandom. Recent additions have been the Magrathea Book Emporium and
a Comedy links section. I've never had real fast access from home
to the web and know that a lot of Web surfer's out there aren't running
with the latest and greatest, so I've kept the site from being too fancy
(I still use lynx at times to access some sites). And keeping the
SFTV listings current is a much more time consuming task than it used to
be with the number of shows out there that I'm keeping track of.
Compare the number of shows listed in the 1993/94 list to todays and you'll
see the difference.
www.sftv.org - I've always wanted to have more info available
and have always been fighting the disk space limitations at goodnet.
Earlier this year, I set up an alternate site at Warner Bros. Acmecity
web hosting site. I've never been completely happy with that, especially
with the headers that get added to any html page that really slow down
the page loading process. Once I checked into getting my own domain,
I grabbed www.sftv.org, which was still available (www.sftv.com is held
by a San Francisco TV station). Now that I've got my own .org and
have set up a site on hostsave.com (No More Banners!), I hope to expand
the site with more information and adding areas to cover more of my interests
(I definitely need some HitchHiker's Guide related links and more stuff
about British Comedy, one of my other interests). I'm open to
possibly hosting some other pages or guides if there's someone
wanting to make something available through here.
Return to The Magrathea/SFTV