I started watching in 1984 during the summer and on holidays. (The first freeze frame I ever remember seeing was of Nancy screaming for Perry's help at the door of her home.) But it wasn't until May 23, 1986 that I got my first VCR. From then on I took watching the show very seriously. The earliest note-taking consisted of cast lists and dates of weddings, as well as clipping and saving the weekly synopsis printed in the newspaper.
In 1988, I discovered microfilm in the college library and realized I could use it to get weekly synopses prior to May 1986. I would skip class to do that research. I did it all backwards, week to week, from May 1986 to November 1979 (which is when it started in my city paper, The Montreal Gazette). It was sort of a thrill this way, seeing how far back each of my favorite characters went. I remember being very impressed that Cass originated as far back as July 1982. But still being rather new to AW, I wasn't interested in characters I didn't know. Who the hell was Jason Dunlap anyway? So when I copied down each weekly synopsis, I ignored all those foreign characters, and even rewrote parts to remove reference to them. So for 1979 and 1980, for example, there might have been only one or two lines per week. I brought all the scribbled notes back home, and typed them up on an old typewriter.
In December of 1989 I bought my first computer. Using a GWBASIC program, I made three programs for Another World: a Character Guide, a database, and Case of the Stolen Swan.
In fall of 1993, I went off to graduate school. I had just been hearing about the Internet and realized it must be a great place for AW fan convergence. In October I signed up for an intro to the Internet one-shot course, and soon after acquired my school account. With my new email account, I used the computers in the lab to join the newsgroup rec.arts.tv.soaps. Aside from regular posting, I contributed a weekly trivia page, and, on rare occasions, I reproduced parts of my AW database such as a modified cast list.
In the summer of 1994 I took a course in Computer-Aided Learning where we were taught about hypertext (a term which refers to the WWW and which no longer seems to be in use). We had two projects to do for that class where we had to write a module (really a web site that attempted to teach people something). For the first one, I collaborated with a classmate on an interactive murder mystery. He wrote the files for four of the suspects and I wrote the other four, choosing AW characters Felicia, Frankie, Ian, and John. (That entire module, rife with AW mythology, still exists, but it has files missing, so it would need rewriting before I could ever upload it.)
For the final project in that class, we had to do our own modules, so I chose one on how to watch Another World. Its goal was to teach new viewers about the soap, or to reaquaint old ones with it. There was a page to bring people up to speed on the story. Then there were character guides for each of the current characters. Each character had many different files, one each for family, spouses, lovers, dates, occupations, and legal and medical history. So there were over a hundred files, probably more than the rest of the class's modules combined. I think I got only a "B" for it :(
We were allowed to upload our final modules to the web. Reception to this "Detailed AW Character Guide" was good, though nothing special. I spent that fall on work term, then returned to the university in 1995. Near the end of the term, I made an official request of that department for a permanent site on their server and it was accepted. I decided to make a real "Another World Home Page," as such fan pages seemed to be called.
So I had a few weeks left before the term ended and I left the city for good. I worked 18-hour days transfering files and converting them into HTML, designing the site, as well as working on my term papers. I knew I had a problem with the synopses, that they were so incomplete. I resolved to redoing all those early years using the university's microfilm library. So I went through the whole process again, in chronological order this time, November 1979 to the end of 1986, scribbling down the AW synopses in short-hand, then typing them up in computer files. The AWHP finally went online in early April.
I moved to Ottawa in May of 1995. My home computer was an old model unsuited to online connectivity. I walked to the library every day to log on through their public terminals using my newly acquired Freenet account. It was a very limited, text-only account and I couldn't do anything with the site directly. When I needed to make a change to a file, I would email someone who was acting as my FTPer and ask her to download it and email it to me. Then I would make the changes and email it back to her, and she would then upload it. Not a very easy way to update the site. I remember I was often driven to distraction by this little box-character that would appear mysteriously at the end of files.
Jeff Jungblut donated screen captures of the three AW logos, and I had my FTPer arrange them at the top of the cover screen. I think I saw it for the first time at a computer store that had a machine hooked up to the Internet.
In early 1996, the university department informed me that my site was too popular and that the frequent log-ins were disrupting the research work of their students. They severely limited the site's access time, then told me they wouldn't be able to host it at all. So I found an Internet service provider in town, Worldlink, to house the AWHP.
Here are the existing log-in stats for the cover screen:
JULY 21-JULY 31, 1995: 889
AUGUST 15-31, 1995: 1575
SEPTEMBER 1995: 4100
OCTOBER 1995: 5466
NOVEMBER 1995: 6932
DECEMBER 1995: 11,242
JANUARY 1-19, 1996: 6208
APRIL 1996: 700-1000 visitors per day
JULY 1996: 13,925
After 18 months, Worldlink decided to cancel their residential service. In November of 1996 I joined up with Intranet as they were the only provider in town that didn't charge extra for a large number of hits on one's web site. It was also the fall of 1996 that I finally bought myself a real computer with a color screen and a modem. I retired my FTPer and took over direct maintenance of the site.
In the summer of 1997 I acquired my Grabit, a screen-capture device. The first things I made were highlight galleries for several of my videos. I made up a Geocities page to serve as "The AWHP Gallery," but soon decided I could and should incorporate the galleries into the regular AWHP.
Starting the summer of 1999, the increased traffic to my site became too much for my service provider, and they began limiting access to visitors. On December 1st, I moved to Information Gateway Services, an ISP that claimed not to monitor throughput, and the AWHP became housed at its fourth location since going online.
In 2005, a Deluxe Edition of the AWHP was offered on several DVD's, while plans were made to drastically trim the online version.