I do recall a few things about the first web site I did at NI. It ran on a Windows NT machine and I hand-coded it in Notepad. When we bought the machine and installed it, I got to pick what IP to give it. I had it assigned .31 because I was 31 years old at the time.
Our internet domain was not ni.com, it was natinst.com. Natinst.com was a well-known domain at the time so when the owner of ni.com offered to sell it to us for $5K, I said no. It didn’t seem worth the money. I heard that after I left NI purchased that domain for $50K.
Our internet backbone at the time was a single T1 to UUNet, 1.5Mbps. I don’t recall us ever having a bandwidth problem.
I ran into a conflict with marketing. I wanted to list prices on the web site. Marketing wouldn’t have it because the prices were different in every country and they didn’t want to have to defend the different markups. My position was that commerce is going global, you can either normalize the prices now or later, but there is no sense pretending pricing is the same everywhere. I lost the debate then, but obviously prices were eventually included.
I also had some conflicts with Tech Pubs. They insisted that any documentation be presented as PDFs because there wasn’t sufficient control of the layout using HTML. My position was that the concept of an 8.5×11 piece of paper as the universal page size was going away and we needed to adapt to a world where we could not predict what scale the user would be viewing the content in. I lost that debate, again, but eventually the web won out.
The only other thing I can recall about the early web at NI was on the day we went public I had a live stock price ticker ready to go. I remember sitting at my desk and waiting on the word from legal that it had actually happened to hit save and make it public. There were also days when we reported quarterly results that I would get the results before they were released, code up the web site, and push them out when accounting gave the ok.
P.S. from Carsten Thomsen
I remember shortly after I arrived at NI in November 1993, Larry walked into my office and told me about this fantastic new software, called a web browser: MOSAIC. He downloaded it for me, and told me he wanted to work on getting NI on the web. Later he came by and told me that he had coded some web stuff up in LabVIEW. It was a graph of stock prices parsed from text flies on the web. LabVIEW’s ability to parse strings from instruments came in handy for parsing data from the web and turning it into graphs.
The following web page from 1997 displayed in a Mac browser was found using the web archive site:
Here are additional screenshots through the years:
Please contact us if you can find more historical screen shots!