Xeno Media Turns 21

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  • 29 Jan, 2018


Xeno Media can finally order a drink in a bar.


We can smoke in Chicago, we can gamble in Iowa, and even get a license to fly a plane in England. That’s because Xeno Media has turned 21 years old this January.


We’ve been around since before Google launched in September of 1998, back when people still hung up their phones and rewound movies. The Internet (or “World Wide Web,” if you will) has changed quite a bit since then.


When we opened our doors in '97 people were taking a huge leap forward in connectivity. Blisteringly fast 56k modems had arrived. Finally, humanity could leave the binding shackles of 28.8 behind and step into the future. Unfortunately, they wouldn't be widely available until '98. At those speeds, you could get a gigabyte (approximately 5 minutes) of HD content after an hour of downloading. What a rush! You also got treated to a wonderful dial tone noise that I will very ineffectually try to replicate here:




It was the sound of humanity joining in global communication and harmony - Until someone called your house and the connection was broken.


We also broadened our perspective and adopted crisp 800x600 screen resolutions, leaving 640x480 in the digital dust (or the cathode ray tube dust?). If you wanted to, you could even shoot off an email while simultaneously watching the latest episode of Xena: Warrior Princess (or Hercules: The Legendary Journeys if that was more your thing) thanks to the wonders of WebTV.


We were still de-gaussing our screens then. Magnetic fields picked up by the metal plate at the front of CRT monitors (called a shadow mask) would cause discoloration in the screen. These magnetic fields deflected the electron beams and distorted the color, so you had a handy button on your monitor to send a rush of magnetized electrons through a coil wrapped around the screen. This field oscillated rapidly and spread the magnetic field randomly and evenly around the screen. As the field diminished, it removed the distortion (and made an extremely satisfying “Snap!” noise in the bargain).


Speaking of technology which would surely stand the test of time, IoMega's Zip disks were embroiled in a war with SyQuest's Ez135 disks for dominance of the storage media market (and the bizarrely capitalized name market). We had to decide if we wanted the truly voluminous 135 MB of storage offered by SyQuest, or the far more affordable 100 MB storage of IoMega's option. Thankfully, CD-RW technology came along not long after to settle the issue.


Netscape Navigator was the browser of choice, trailed by Internet Explorer. Though Internet Explorer eventually beat Netscape Navigator, NN still has a record that Internet Explorer still hasn’t shaken. Netscape Navigator’s original “Welcome to Netscape” web page is STILL up, enlightening people about “hyperlinks,” and inviting them to check out the Internet White Pages in order to connect with someone else who is “on the Internet”. You can learn about this exciting new information superhighway right here!


There were about 1.1 million websites live at the time, compared to today’s approximately 1.3 billion. If you didn’t know the exact URL, you had a plethora of search engines to choose from: There was a dog, a spider and some guy named Jerry (Or Lycos, Web Crawler and what had been renamed Yahoo), as well as Altavista, Excite! and others. Google came along the following year.


Things have changed quite a bit since we got started and we've changed right along with them. So here's to a happy birthday, and many more!

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