Chris Padilla/Blog / Tech

My First Website from 2005

Table layouts, table layouts everywhere!

Like many folks born in the early 90s, I grew up with the web. You could say we both grew up alongside each other! I was right on that edge of entering elementary school just as the internet became a household utility.

I was coding my first few webpages at 8 years old, which is wild to think about looking back. I played lots of Neopets at the peak of its heyday. The platform exposed a way for player's to add custom HTML for their shop pages and profiles. With the help of some kid-friendly HTML resources, I was able to add midis, custom cursors, and all sorts of Geocities-era site features!

Fast forward into my teens, on the other side of the early rise in Youtube's popularity. I took up video making and sketch writing for fun. And most of the "pros" (at least, the larger channels) had their own websites.

I was already drawing comics at the time, too. I would pass a four-panel strip around and share them with friends in class. Like a daily syndication, but on notebook paper and in No.2 pencil. I wasn't aware of the rise of webcomics online at the time, but it occurred to me all the same that having a home for those doodles and videos would be a pretty neat idea.

And so, was born.

Unfortunately, most of the site has been lost to time. The HTML was coded directly on my hosting service's platform, which shut down years ago. I still have the videos on a hard drive (too juvenile to share publicly, but endearing all the same!) The comics are gone, maybe in a folder back in my parents' attic. And a few small technical experiments and widgets have been lost too. (Moral of the story: Back up your files!)

Thanks to the Way Back Machine, I was able to recover the landing page!

Technical Comparisons

A few fun observations comparing this to modern websites:

  • Photoshop was a required skill for making sites at the time. The main banner and featured videos section were probably made in MS Paint, tough.
  • When a new post went up, I simply edited the HTML by hand. I didn't realize many sites had a CMS behind them! I would have been blown away by WordPress
  • A missed opportunity: Those posts could have had an RSS feed!
  • Tables layouts! Without flex or grid, this was how most developers were creating placing their content/
  • No CSS file, really. Any CSS is done inline or with an HTML tag, like the deprecated <font /> and <center /> tags.
  • No JavaScript, ethier! I would have earned a perfect score for performance in my web core vitals.

<table border="0" cellpadding="2" cellspacing="1" style="border-collapse:" width="505" bordercolor="#666666" valign="top">
      <td width="503" colspan="2" background="./assets/news.jpeg">
        <b><font size="2">Happy Belated New Year! - 1/20/08</font></b>
        <td width="51">
            <img border="0" src="./assets/aimbagelboyfield.jpeg" width="50" height="50"></font>

        <td width="451">
            <p align="left">

                Good News, everyone!



The Good Ol' Days

My site pre-dated widespread social media. If you wanted an online profile, you had a few options like Livejournal, Blogger, WordPress, etc. Or you did what I did and rolled up your sleeves to put the HTML together.

That lent the internet to so much customization and ownership! Compare that to the cookie-cutter profiles across social media now.

Making sites was a unique, widespread way for a broad audience to be introduced to programming. (Calling HTML programming is a stretch to some, but I say it counts!) I know plenty of developers that got their start customizing MySpace, Tumblr, and WordPress pages.

Today, It's great that anyone can make a profile on any platform and start sharing. I'm nostalgic, though, for the inherent ownership and creativity that was baked into the early days of the web.

Especially for kids! In passing, I think about how my future-kids will develop their own technical literacy. Impossible to say now, things continue to change so quickly. But, so long as there are platforms for them to get their hands dirty, play, and really mess around with what's under the hood, I'm sure there will be a way.