From: Ontario, Canada
http://web.archive.org/web/*/hardwick.ukc.ac.uk/cg i-bin/hpda.exe/djk3/index.html [archive.org]
TWICE, this month, I've had a journalist ask me when "Sheldon" went online, and I had to hedge my answer...'cause I honestly don't know. I had to tell the nice lady from Forbes it was "Fall of 1998...or, um, thereabouts", because I can't find any official answer in web archives.
So let's put the patented WISDOM OF CROWDS to use, and see if thousands of heads are smarter than one!
WHAT WE DO KNOW:
2.) It actually started out a year earlier -- somewhere in the Fall/Winter of 1998/99 -- while I was studying WWII cartoons at the University of Kent, Canterbury England.
3.) That student webpage, as far as I can remember, was "http://www.ukc.ac.uk/php/djk3", or perhaps "http://www.ukc.ac.uk/djk3". Kent, however, has long-since deleted that student page, and changed their own URL to "kent.ac.uk".
4.) If we can find *any* archived page from that student site, we'll know the start-date, since the "First Strip" link will exist in hand-coded html.
WHAT WE NEED TO FIND OUT:
1.) While archive.org captured the latter two sites in '99, it didn't capture the (obscure) student site of mine in late '98. Is there any web archive that was active in late '98 or early '99?
2.) Might there be a UK-based or university-based archive of student sites from that era?
3.) Is there even one (!) Sheldon reader who's been following the strip the entire time, and would have some personal record of when it first came online?
4.) Is there some other resource that the search-savvy among us might know?
Figuring out the start-date is so important to me, that I'd like to offer this up to the person who finds *the* definitive date: I'm offering ANY Sheldon Original Art in the archives, plus the entire 6-book Sheldon collection, plus a Sheldon t-shirt of your choosing, plus a personalized sketch of your favorite character! It's the least I can do, since you'd be doing me such a huge kindness.
I found this - a list of personal webpages from 1998. http://web.archive.org/web/19980125093628/www.ukc. ac.uk/phps/full_index.html
and this: http://web.archive.org/web/19980125090132/http://w ww.ukc.ac.uk/ which was the home page. Can you locate it from there?
I found it!! I think?
None of the images saved and you didn't use alt tags, so I can't be sure.
I don't know if you put the date on there either :(
I wish your comments let me edit my previous posts -- I feel silly posting so many times.
Are you sure you didn't start posting here on June 8, 1999? The footer said that's when you last modified the page, and it seems to fit with the pattern.
On July 23, 1999 you last modified the page Sheld37.html [archive.org]
On July 26, 1999 you last modified the page Sheld38.html etc. [archive.org]
So, 35 strips in 51 days seems about right for the pace you were going. I suggest that you first posted the first strip on June 8, 1999!! [archive.org]
I found http://web.archive.org/web/20000103200825/http://h ardwick.ukc.ac.uk/cgi-bin/hpda.exe/djk3/Sheld1.htm l [archive.org] too, which is as far back as you can get on Archive.org. But I would be willing to bet that if you found a version from 1998, it would have the original date...it's likely the whole site was updated in the summer of '99, regardless of when that first page went up. :)
"2. from 1 November 2001, all remaining Personal Home Pages will no longer be visible on the Internet or within the University (the pages themselves will not be deleted)."
Good luck, let us know how it comes out.
I have to agree with zoster_i. Tue Jun 08 22:29:18 1999 seems to be the oldest date that I can find. The only other path that I could think to follow would perhaps be the "cartoonist's" webring.
August is too late, due to the inclusion of the http://extremetracking.com/open?login=kellett tracking image at the bottom of the page. This had to have been after davekellett.com went live but before http://hardwick.ukc.ac.uk/cgi-bin/hpda.exe/djk3/ went down.
@zoster_i: You are a champ at this! I love it! :) But, I do know that my thesis [kent.ac.uk], ("Philip Zec: Cartoonist in a Propaganda War"), was turned in in May/June of 1999, and I returned to the States soon thereafter. So, I think...
@asrailight ...may be onto something when they said that the site was probably updated last in June 1999 regardless of when the first pages went up. (Either me making a last update, or the underlaying student admin code updating on it's own. I have a pretty clear memory of me first figuring out the school's scanners and web systems in the Fall. So I'm pretty sure the first strip goes that far back.
@appleseed What a great idea, thank you! As you've suggested, I've written to the admins there, with hope beyond hope that they have something stashed away on an old Windows NT server somewhere. :)
@Schandlich, et al: I think you're right, in that June 8, 1999 seems to be the farthest back that can be found (at least thus far in the search). But that, as I explained above, would've been at the *end* of my time at the school...so it looks like the problem might be the impossibility of finding an archive "snapshot" of the site having been taken earlier that academic year.
Which tells me that I started *dating* the hand-coded strip pages on Aug. 31, 1999 (rather than calling them "Sheld1.html, Sheldon2.html....etc., etc.). There is only one conclusion to that: I still had access to, and was still updating, the site at the end of August '99. Aaaaand, it looks like Sept 1, '99 did *not* have an update, as the coding was there for one, and the archive bot followed it, but there was nothing there:
So, we can pretty much conclude that that's when my access to the site ended. Which is good! Progress! But I'm still unsure of the launch date.
@Zoster_i, I'm going to go dig through my physical paperwork and see if I can find anything that would match up to your proposed June 8, 1999 date. My memory seems to be more swiss-cheese than I'd like: It may be that I have recollections of learning the *scanner* in the Fall of '98, but that the *site itself* didn't go up until Summer of '99.
I'm getting so excited to see what the launch date was! We're making progress!
Looks like I was closing down the site in Sept '99, and transitioning over to davekellett.com.
Fascinating. The web counter at http://www.kent.ac.uk/cgi-bin/nph-count?link=php/d jk3/index.html is still working, sort of. Currently at 99.
Hey! I think I might have found something...
There's not much that can be seen at the old University site, so I thought I'd have a look at old versions of DaveKellett.com.
This is the oldest version, apparently from October 13th, 1999, shortly after you created the site (but you can see February 2000 on the page):
You can also see all the "Start your reading from here" links. The earliest one is "June". Hovering over it shows the name of the HTML file that it links to. "990621.html". So, June 21st, 1999 would appear to be the apparent start date.
Is that any help?
And the june 21st 1999 site still seems to be there with the strip and all
Well, I found this page: http://web.archive.org/web/20000103200825/http://h ardwick.ukc.ac.uk/cgi-bin/hpda.exe/djk3/Sheld1.htm l [archive.org]
It says the last modification was on June 8, 1999.
Also, the first strip's filename was "shel1.gif".
And the page was made with Microsoft Word 97 which was released on December 30, 1996
So I can safely say your page was made between January 1, 1997 and June 8, 1999
Really, it all depends on if your first sheldon posting was on a page like this with navigation and such, or if it was just you posting it on a "hey, lookit what I made" type page.
Granted, it could have been edited at anytime, but
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sheldon_(webcomic) has to say this....
The character Sheldon first appeared in a minor role in Kellett's comic strip Four Food Groups of the Apocalypse, which ran in the University of Notre Dame's student newspaper The Observer from 1993 to 1996. Kellett later gave Sheldon his own strip in 1998 as a webcomic, which ran on djk3.ac.uk first, then davekellett.com, and then moved to the Keenspot-hosted sheldoncomics.com in 2000. In 2001, United Features Syndicate picked the strip up for online syndication and the strip moved to comics.com on December 17, 2001. Since this move meant having all-new readers, the strip was retconned with revised versions of Keenspot comics.You may be able to contact the folks at Notre Dame's Observer to see if they have some old issues if you REALLY want the start...
@sheepster That's a good find! But the davekellett.com archives are only reliable in telling us how the existing djk3 comic strips were ported over to the "new" davekellett.com site in the Fall of '99 (and retroactively re-dated from "Sheld1", "Sheld2" to "990621", "990622", etc).
@ aussiesteve Yep! That's the same strip all right, showing up on sheldoncomics.com, the earlier davekellett.com, and the even earlier djk3. I clearly just kept porting over the existing archives to the whatever new site I was moving to.
@ Ghlitch I'm increasingly coming to the opinion that that June 8, 1999 page is the farthest back we're going to reach. Which is a shame: The info from that page can't tell me if I *first posted a strip* on June 8th, or whether I *just happened to modify the page last* on June 8th. I was still figuring out HTML in '99, so continuing site-wide changes weren't an impossibility. ...But, so far, that June 8th date is the farthest we can reach back.
@ Erimore Yeah, Sheldon first appeared in my undergrad strip ('93-'96), but none of that work ever made it online, unfortunately.
@ frzndaqiri Totally: It's something that's bugged me for years! And it always *really* bugs me when a journalist asks about it. :)
I just had another look and got something else. If you look at the other links on the old djk3 site, one of them takes you to a resume page.
That page, along with another ("bookpage.html") were both last modified on May 19th, 1999. And both pages have a link to that first Sheldon strip!
May 19th seems to be a new benchmark...
That's assuming the resume and book pages were actually updated on those dates.
If the update date is a server-side thing then they're correct. But if it's something Dave there had to update each time, then the links could've been added but the "updated last" dates left unchanged.
I think we've reached the limit of what the internet archive can give us.
Dave was still using the university email when he made the page, so we can't have him check back through his yahoo account that he later used on the site for a "Dude, great comic" type email. He added the trackers and comics web ring in late summer of 1999, so those won't help. Universities typically don't keep server backups for this length of time, so he's out of luck there most likely. There really aren't any other generalized internet archives other than the wayback machine.
So what we're left with is to find some real-world resource. Either a person who had read the strip from the beginning or a piece of paper Dave had printed somewhere or something of that nature.
On a slightly different line of attack - when you created your first Sheldon, I doubt that you just uploaded it without emailing friends and family about it.
Perhaps they have a copy of those first emails? I'm guessing you'd have been using your old Kent email, so you won't have the original sent email.
Perhaps one of those friends might be able to associate the first time they saw the comic with something else they were doing at the time?
Does it matter that on http://web.archive.org/web/19991013042640/http://h ardwick.ukc.ac.uk/cgi-bin/hpda.exe/djk3/index.html you have indicated that "Sheldon" is copywrited 1999? Would you have posted it in 1998 if it wasn't (c) yet?
(That wasn't sarcasm, I actually don't know) =P