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First Websites | How it began

With the launch of the new website also a launch into history was made. Did Scintilla always have a website? And what features are we missing that were implemented in earlier versions of our association’s website? The Vonk editorial team talked to Scintilla Alumni to stitch together the timeline of Scintilla’s websites from 2008 back to 1994.

2007 - 2003

The changes in the backend at the end of 2007 can be read in the Old Website article made by Jort, published a couple weeks ago. With still a Roxen back-end but some parts already written in PHP, at the end of this timeline the changes were already coming. Going back in the years with the internet archive this website did not have a lot of visual changes. Scintilla’s style was a bit different than we are used to now, with a lot of blue and darker red. Sadly, due to not embedding every graphic on the site, not the full glory of this era can be admired. In this time however a lot of extra sponsors came around for which space had to be made available on the homepage which became longer with also a more expanded side menu. A nice feature that was added on this new website was a counter at the bottom logging the inbound and outgoing bandwith utilization of the Scintilla network.

2002 - 1999

The change between 2002 and 2003 was mostly a visual one, in the period from 2002 to 1999 we can see a whole other design.

Final design concept of the Scintilla website from 1999 up to 2002 made by Jasper Jeroen Dik

Final design concept of the Scintilla website from 1999 up to 2002 made by Jasper Jeroen Dik

The first hints of the blue with the darker red were made back in this period. Maybe you’ll recognise one very important part on this site, the elongated scintilla sling. The one we still use today specifically on association clothing with names on top of it, but also still in the ‘huisstijl’ on envelopes and stationery. Believe it or not, but this whole graphic design was made in Photoshop, yes it did already exist at that time, by Jasper Jeroen Dik. In 1999 the division of SoT and Webteam formed. Some people were working primarily on the website at Scintilla and others were mainly responsible for the computers and the network at Scintilla.

1999 - 1994

In this period not one website but 2 or 3 different ones quickly followed up one another. The first website that can still be visited with the internet archive is from 1997. To give you some perspective: not all machines could even play music, they were not powerful enough. Therefore, the Scintilla server streamed the music to every workstation in the Scintilla Room, it was called Soepkip radio.

The website in 1997 as seen in the internet archive

The website in 1997 as seen in the internet archive

You can see the big Scintilla sling in the middle with a little menu around it. One thing to mention is that this website had embedded fonts and did not use the normal web browser fonts like any other website at that time. The main attraction of this website though was a homepage for every active user and a ‘koffieping’. This last one was ofcourse the most used. You could look up, before making the walk down to the Scintilla Room in the Hoogekamp, if there was coffee in the room and how old it was. A fun anecdote is that this piece of the website was also written as a WAP, a subset of HTML for wireless (low bandwidth) websites, that could be read on Siemens cellphones with a graphical screen that were distributed to people at the university by a provider as a sort of trial. On a small screen you could ping that specific part of the website and request on your phone if there was coffee, high-tech at that time. Because Scintilla was of course a study association, the exam database was also up and running and everyone could view old exams that were scanned to pdf. Since 1996 this website already ran Roxen and was made in such a way that it was also fully browsable in terminal, not everyone had the luxury of having a full web browser.

Before 1996 the amount of websites and how they looked is sadly a bit faded. A couple of things are still very sure, in 1994 the first website of Scintilla was built and e-mail was setup for active Scintilla members. This was for a lot of people the first and only e-mail address they had. The website was a real ‘uithangbord’ and one of the first website at the university. First the website was hosted on its machine name utelscin.el.utwente.nl. With some savyness and contact with the then responsible person for the ‘.nl’ domain we ‘registered’ scintilla.nl. But later because of the rise of more UT websites and the implied hierarchy that was desired by UTwente central IT administration it had to be changed to scintilla.utwente.nl with no redirect from the first name.

While the website was a nice to have and a team effort of our administrator-team (SOT), far more important was the network in the Scintilla room itself. With more than six computers, connected to the web, to work of this was a hub for downloading content on your own harddrives. To give you some perspective what the network was like I’d like you to redirect to yearbook pieces of 1995 and 1997 (in Dutch). Because the Electrical Engineers of Scintilla had access and the know how to work with the hardware the association was one of the pioneering organisations on the IT front.

Closing and thank you note

Since the establishment of Scintilla’s Operator Team in 1988 there is a lot more to uncover about how the IT systems of Scintilla worked, were structured and changed over time. If you want to share your story about the old websites or IT systems, don’t hesitate to contact The Vonk. I want to give my special thanks to Fred van Dijk VP, Sander Ruitenbeek, Martijn Damen VP, Jasper Jeroen Dik VP, Eric Lammerts VP and Arjen Krabbendam for replying to my messages, the nice chats about the IT systems of Scintilla they worked on and the material for in this article.