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UVA Computer Science: History of This Server
UNIVERSITY of VIRGINIA
Computer Science
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History of This Server

Sometime during 1993, Rich Gossweiler and Shuichi Koga took a look at a new software product, Mosaic 2.0. Both of them immediately liked the software and thought that it would be kind of neat to experiment to use it to develop a page for the User Interface Group. However, while they did reach a certain level of achievement, they found that they couldn't do really cool stuff like image maps unless they had a server. So, both left it alone for the time being.

Then, at beginning of the Fall semester of 1993, Shuichi Koga and Scott Witherell, another member of the User Interface Group, started to have serious discussions about setting up a web server, and brainstormed several ideas out, and during the winter of 1993 started to try to bring down and use Plexus 2.0 as the base server.

In April 1993, Charlie Viles first became aware of Mosaic 0.9 the pre-release of NCSA's now wildly successful web client. At the time, Charlie was (and is) involved with building a distributed technical report search and browse service called WATERS (Wide Area TEchnical Report Service). The WATERS group recognized early on that a Web front-end to the service was the obvious way to go. Over the summer and fall, Charlie and others in the group worked on the technical changes needed to make the service Web-based. Part of this effort included making the installation instructions and software documentation web-viewable. This in turn was the forcing function for putting up the initial http server, version 0.9 of NCSA's httpd software, in late October, 1993.

During the early part of 1994, all 3 of us recognized that it would be in our best interests to merge together, and that is exactly what we did. We standardized on the NCSA server system, and the rest is 'history.' During the period of time between then and now, WWW piqued many interests within the University of Virginia, leading the main computer service provider on campus, Information Technology and Communications to make one for the entire campus.

Why have we forged on? Well, actually, while the UVA WWW system is fine for departments, it's not great for students (both undergraduate and graduate) and other members of the community wanting to update information quickly and provide their own information in a simple manner. We wanted everyone in the department to have the oppurtunity to present him or herself to the growing (and how!) Web-capable population. This is the crux on which the computer science department's web server is based. We made the conscientious decision early on that people with CS accounts should be allowed to provide information, ranging from simple 'hi there!' type home pages with menus of local restaurants and movie theatre lists to complete 'this is the type of research we do here' type of pages for the external academic world.

In mid-1995 Professor Gabriel Robins redesigned all the CS web pages and hired a team of students to continue the UVa CS Web development effort.



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