AfterDawn: Tech news

AfterDawn.com's fifth birthday

Written by Petteri Pyyny (Google+) @ 10 Jun 2004 0:45 User comments (28)

AfterDawn.com's fifth birthday Five years and a couple of months ago it was a yet another very boring working day in a Finnish new media company (one of those born in 1990s and already folded since that) -- and it was the coldest winter ever in Finnish capital, temperatures dropping to -40C. One web developer -- me -- with a serious addiction to MP3s felt very, very bored of creating yet another feedback form functionality for some furniture company's web site and felt that he needed "something". At that time there was a wave of great new sites appearing on daily basis, focusing on digital audio -- most notable ones for me were sites called MP3.com and Dimension Music. One provided indie artists a way to promote their music for free and the other was a niche site covering news that related to the MP3 revolution that had begun three years earlier.
Then I had a thought -- not a very original thought nor a very noble thought, but a thought anyway -- why not try to emulate those ideas, add couple of additional features to the equation, make it bilingual and see what happens. Obviously I couldn't do it alone -- not financially and not technically, so I needed help and started calling my friends. After a couple of phone calls, the team of eight guys was ready and we began discussing about our expectations for the site. The first steps in the history of the site were taken..

Name?

One of the major issues launching the site nowadays is to figure out a name for it -- virtually all dot-com domains have been taken and it doesn't make much sense to register anything other than dot-com domains anyway. So, we needed a name that sounded "cool" and had a domain free for it. Not an easy task, I can tell you.

The idea was to be a democratic community right from the get-go and I asked all the guys involved to find out ten or more domain names that they would consider to be "nice" and that would be free as .com domains. A bit later, we had an IRC meeting with all the guys -- you could call this as the first official AfterDawn.com meeting, although totally virtual -- to decide the name for the site. I sent combined list of names that everybody had came up with to all the participants and asked each of them to choose five names that sounded good. After everybody chose their five favorite ones, I combined another list based on those selections and submitted it back to everybody to vote for names. After couple of voting rounds, AfterDawn.com was chosen. It didn't mean anything particular, but sounded very good.

Launch

After spending couple of months coding and tweaking graphics, the first version of the site was ready to be rolled out. It was exactly five years ago today that the first public version of the site was released -- the first news article was rather short, but very important to us :-)

If you want to see how the first version of the site looked, take a look at here.

Evolution

At first, the site contained various stuff that our users nowadays would feel unsuitable for the current AfterDawn.com. Our site has been bilingual -- in Finnish and in English -- right from the beginning and the first version of the site contained stuff like the Finnish daily TV listings :-) We also had a couple of DVD reviews and several album reviews back then. No DVD rippers or guides, nothing like that. Back then, it was all about MP3s and digital audio, no one had even heard of DVD backups back then.

Slowly we started focusing more on news and software and also improved the layout slightly -- the "v1.1" layout can be seen here (sorry, only Finnish screen shot is available). The site used frames and all the non-standard neat stuff back then ;-)

I can't pinpoint exactly when or how the focus of the site started changing towards digital video, but it began in 1999 when the first DVD rippers were added to the site -- back then they were just minor additions to the otherwise-audio-dominated software listings and we didn't pay that much attention to them.

Our traffic kept growing, site evolved slowly as the technologies and our understanding of the site improved. Eventually, in September 2000 -- a little bit over a year after the original launch, we finally rolled out a new version of the layout, "v2.0". It was less graphical, it didn't have frames anymore and it focused more on the areas that we felt that the site belonged to.

The major traffic growth begun sometime in early 2001. We also rolled out our discussion forums in March, 2001 (actually, the very first version of the site had a cascading forum system, but it never got any attention from our users, so the original forums were dropped completely when the v2.0 of the site was launched).

The years 2001 and 2002 were rather difficult times financially and in various other ways -- the dot-com boom had died, nobody spent any money on online advertising anymore, sites were dying all over the Net and the whole MP3 phenomenon, ultimately sparked by Napster in late 1999, was fading. But our traffic kept growing. At that time, the site was funded by our personal credit cards / salaries and, in 2002, by users who donated to our site.

In late 2002, something changed -- can't really say what it was, but suddenly our traffic growth was something unbelievable and finally advertisers were crawling back to the Net as well. During the winter 2002-2003 it seemed that everything went just right and in May, 2003 we felt that the only reasonable way to handle the current situation was to set up a "real" company to run the site. AfterDawn Ltd was born. Still owned by the original team -- although one of us wanted "out" and thus we now have seven guys who own the AfterDawn.

The new layout, "v3.0", had been in plans since year 2002 and was finally launched in December, 2003. Several site areas have been dropped since the launch back in 1999 -- we don't have WinAMP skins anymore, our indie artists are not in AfterDawn.com anymore (but are located on our sister site at MP3Lizard.com) and like I said before, we don't have DVD reviews, album reviews or TV listings anymore :-)

Competitors?

Business that doesn't have competition, is a dead business. We have competitors and we have always had competitors. Since our focus has shifted towards digital video, I have mentally always used the term "Big Four" to describe the sites that I consider to be the biggest and the best digital video sites on the Internet -- AfterDawn.com, Doom9, Digital-Digest and VCDHelp/SVCDHelp/DVDRHelp/Videohelp.

I think each of these sites has something unique that makes them distinct from the others in the group. Doom9 is probably the best known site -- the only major site that I've ever known to be completely without ads as well :-) -- and focuses heavily on hard core development and cutting-edge video technologies. Definitely the best site around for "pro" guys. And I think everybody who has ever had a DVD player knows VideoHelp's DVD player listings. Digital-Digest has been around forever, publishes its legendary weekly movie trailers and is probably the site where most of the current "DVD ripping specialists" read their first ever VCD guides years ago.

I've been involved with various niche scenes in my life and I'm still amazed by the fact that all these great sites -- including also several good quality smaller digital video sites -- fight ultimately for millions of readers to justify their existence and yet the community has managed to avoid stupid cat fights between its members ("my dad's site is better than your dad's!"). I'd like to thank all of those in this great, global digital video community for making it something totally unique.

The size of our site?

We have grown over the years to something that I'd like to call "big". Compared to major sites like Google.com or News.com, we're a a small hobby site (which we are!), but considering that we cover only a rather limited technical niche, I'd say that we've done good :-) We currently have almost 150,000 registered members, have 3 million unique monthly visitors to our sites and over 12 million page impressions each month. There is still plenty of room to grow, but currently, we are already in position where I can honestly say that it has been worth the journey.

The future

We have several plans for the future -- new funky little additions to the site that hopefully make our users' lives bit easier. But as always, it is the A/V technology that ultimately makes the difference -- we can't predict what will be the "Next Big A/V Thing" in 2006, but whatever it is, I promise that we will be here to write about it.

The users

I can't go on without thanking those of you who participate to our site's development and growth on daily basis. I'd especially like to thank all of our moderators for doing such a great job on our forums just for the sheer joy of it -- your work is more appreciated than what I can put in words, thank you.

Additionally, I'd like to thank all of those long-time users who simply keep on coming back to our site -- whatever your reason is to do so, whether it is news, forums, etc. There have been times when our site has been tested -- sudden (luckily temporary) dramatic drops in traffic, financial difficulties, etc and that "core" team of users have made it possible to pull through.

Then, last, but definitely not least, are the casual visitors, people who simply wander to our site to read the latest news, download couple of software items or maybe to read some guides. The fact that we can provide useful information to such a large group of people is, in itself, a proof that we have done something right during the last five years.

Now...

...our team of seven individuals is about to have a night off and go drinking later tonight :-) Happy birthday, AfterDawn!


On behalf of AfterDawn Ltd's team,

-Petteri Pyyny, CEO

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28 user comments

110.6.2004 2:00

Yay! 5 years and kicking! :)

210.6.2004 2:09

happy birthday and hope there are many more


pentium 4 3,2ghz 1gig ddr 2700
asusp4p800 delux mobo's
120gig sata hdd's
gforce fx 5600 8x agp
6.1 sound
no fancy lights way to girly
all times 3
rules: http://forums.afterdawn.com/thread_view.cfm/2487

310.6.2004 2:24

One of the best sites on the internet! i have learned so much from the people involved here. Thanks! and Happy Birthday Afterdawn, its users, and its Admin! Great Job all. may the growth of the next 5 years match that of the first. (it may say newbie by my name, but i have been visiting this site for quite a long time)

410.6.2004 2:25

i know its great im on here 17hrs a day when i can


pentium 4 3,2ghz 1gig ddr 2700
asusp4p800 delux mobo's
120gig sata hdd's
gforce fx 5600 8x agp
6.1 sound
no fancy lights way to girly
all times 3
rules: http://forums.afterdawn.com/thread_view.cfm/2487

510.6.2004 2:43

Happy birthday!

610.6.2004 2:54

One of the best sites on the internet! I have learned so much from the people involved here. nato1200 is right. I tell everyone who needs tech advice to go to Afterdawn.com. From the moment I visited this site, I realized just how lucky I was to find it. The peoples here a SO DAMM GENIOUS, THANKS to everyone! AFTERDAWN ROCKS, here's to another great FIFTY-five years!!! Sweet!

710.6.2004 3:23

Happy 5th Birthday! and many more to come I hope

810.6.2004 5:30
ellizit
Inactive

Happy Birthday! Great Job guys, really great site! Cheers!

910.6.2004 6:36

A HUGE HAPPY BITHDAY aD!!!! I'f it wasn't for this great site Id be stumbling in the dark for information that I would have never known. nato1200-you said it all! One of the best sites on the internet! i have learned so much from the people involved here. Thanks! and Happy Birthday Afterdawn, its users, and its Admin! Great Job all. may the growth of the next 5 years match that of the first.

1010.6.2004 7:16

Happy Birthday. I don't know what is more frightening: the site been 5 yrs old or the fact I've been visiting the site since 2000! I still can't remember how I found you guys either--must have been on a quest for dvdgenie...

1110.6.2004 7:28
shiroh
Inactive

a good place to get started. the best is the gaming backup resource. i'll put up a dvd to xvid guide, an updated way and the best way i've known of. if i find the time.

1210.6.2004 9:27

Quote:
I can't go on without thanking those of you who participate to our site's development and growth on daily basis. I'd especially like to thank all of our moderators for doing such a great job on our forums just for the sheer joy of it -- your work is more appreciated than what I can put in words, thank you.
Just for the sheer joy of it?? People they imprison us and force us to moderate the site. It's about time someone spoke out against this evil empire that will one day take the planet as we know it from your kids...... waiski....... noo... NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!! Anyways, enuff of that :-) Its been a good 5 years it seems, I've been a member since August 2002 but I've been visiting longer than that. It's been a good laugh on the forums really and has proved to help me myself in my own financial situation now that im just outta school :-) I gained skills I would never have just by reading posts on the forums and replying to them or by just joining in a discussion on IRC :-) Afterdawn has to be the biggest collection of nerds I know, but thats not a bad thing, nerds run the planet, and its only in our minds that we are nerds (come on, were u ever sitting in work/school and all of a sudden get an idea about dvd ripping or something and wondering, hmmm would that work?? cant wait to get home to test it! lol WE ARE NERDS) Nerds run the planet anyway so it's the best thing we can be really :-)
Quote:
Business that doesn't have competition, is a dead business. We have competitors and we have always had competitors. Since our focus has shifted towards digital video, I have mentally always used the term "Big Four" to describe the sites that I consider to be the biggest and the best digital video sites on the Internet -- AfterDawn.com, Doom9, Digital-Digest and VCDHelp/SVCDHelp/DVDRHelp/Videohelp.
I, for the longest time have been just amazed that these four sites (and now even more popping up) can co-exist so well with each other. It's like each has its own responsibility, each brings what it must to the table. Those 4 sites are pretty big too, a lot of users behind them so any challanging from organisations who think they can use their money to force the law to hurt any of these sites would be met with a massive crowd instead of a few admins.
Quote:
We have several plans for the future -- new funky little additions to the site that hopefully make our users' lives bit easier. But as always, it is the A/V technology that ultimately makes the difference -- we can't predict what will be the "Next Big A/V Thing" in 2006, but whatever it is, I promise that we will be here to write about it.
I'll still be here too hopefully :-) Maybe even a bit more involved than I am right now, I never realised how much a day can kill you when u have to earn money :P lol
Quote:
There is still plenty of room to grow, but currently, we are already in position where I can honestly say that it has been worth the journey.
Right about that plenty of room to grow for sure!! In today's world, new gadgets pop up everyday that this site is just begging to cover! :-) This is probably a good time to ask too, what does the site (admins) think about TV-Ripping? I know its a bit of a strange one in this global copyright mess, but in my opinion, if I'm paying for the service I have every damn right to record from it. PDTV and HDTV guides would be a nice addition to the site IMO :-)

1310.6.2004 9:42

Quote:
Just for the sheer joy of it?? People they imprison us and force us to moderate the site. It's about time someone spoke out against this evil empire that will one day take the planet as we know it from your kids...... waiski....... noo... NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!
Hehe don't I know it :P .... I wouldn't quite say "imprison and force" but more like "drive us to addiction and make use of free labour" :P haha It's been a fun time. Happy birthday AD!
ASUS A8V Deluxe, A64-3500 @ 2.65
1GB KingMax PC3700
640GB [4x160GB, 7200, 8MB]
XFX 6800GT 256MB
Rules and Policies: http://forums.afterdawn.com/thread_view.cfm/2487

1410.6.2004 11:23

Happy birthday AD :) Hope the night of drinking was fun and the hangovers weren't too bad!

1510.6.2004 13:49

you didnt mention the console forums :( and i post so hard to help the people in the xbox forum. O well great site, thanks for puttin all the "grey area" software all in one place :) thats really handy, and thanks to all the helpfull people in the forums, and i dont mean just the mods and admins, all the people who help for the sake of it, thats what makes this site great, you learn then you teach. afterdawn.com............because lifes to expensive

1610.6.2004 14:34

happy birthday !!!

1710.6.2004 17:46

I guess I'm still a newbie then :) Go Afterdawn. It will live long and propser *hands out party hats to everyone*

1810.6.2004 19:03

Happy Birthday !!! Afterdawn... this place has been and always will be a great learning source for me and I will always be thankful for that.

1910.6.2004 19:10

Happy Belated Birthday! I must say that this has been my favorite site of all time. Without it I would have never figured out how to backup my ps2 games or have found out about the IRC. Thanks and keep up the good work!




PS2 cd/dvd burning guide: http://forums.afterdawn.com/thread_view.cfm/15105
How to use any Gameshark version (1-4) with your backups: http://forums.afterdawn.com/thread_view.cfm/87923

2010.6.2004 20:02

Happy Birthday!! I love this site. Thank god for that boring day!!

2110.6.2004 20:09

Happy 5th birthday! And many more to come! There are 2 reasons this is my favorite site for discussing digital video. The first is that I found Afterdawn the same day I bought my first DVD burner (November 30, 2002) and I was able to backup a DVD that same day. It may not sound like much now, but if you were doing it then you know what I mean about how impressive that is. The second reason, and this is the one that keeps me coming back, is the work done by the admins and moderators. Sure, everyone who posts here is responsible for making it what it is, but the moderators set the tone. If they acted like asses and played favorites that would be reflected in the community as a whole. Barring an occasional bad day (hey we're all human) I find the moderation here to be even handed and fair and that's an important part of what Afterdawn is. So thanks to the admins, moderators, and everyone who makes it worth my time and effort to waste way too much of my spare time here.


Rich Fiscus
@Vurbal on Twitter
AfterDawn Staff Writer

2210.6.2004 20:21

This was the first site I found after I got my dvd burner and the only site I use for info. GREAT site, Keep up the good work HAPPY BIRTHDAY AFTERDAWN..

2310.6.2004 20:33

HAPPY FIFTH BIRTHDAY TO AFTERDAWN !!!!! It's MY birthday too! You are 5 years old and I am 51 . (I just act like I'm 5.) I knew from the first day I logged in, that I was on to something special! Many many thanks to Petteri, Jari, and Company !! -- Klingy --

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 10 Jun 2004 @ 20:39

2411.6.2004 7:22

A happy birthday to Afterdawn, may u grow from strength to strength, and may you and yours provide us with the excellent service i found on this site.Being from South Africa, i must admit....i never knew there was such a site like afterdawn, but now that i know u exist, i visit here everyday for sumthing new to read. Your guides and forums are excellent, and boy, have i become a professor of reading alot on what goes on here.Haaaaaaaaappppppyyy Birttttttttthhdaaayyyyy!!!!!!!

2512.6.2004 20:42
Maryela3
Inactive

Happy Birthday Afterdawn!!!! =) also sorry if i was stupid once i mean everybody is a newbie at one time of their lifes Far the best site ive ever visited about this stuff i really have learned a lot thanks for that thanks for everything and well See ya later The best of the wishes to everybody and hope there will be many more years to come See ya Maria =)

2613.6.2004 13:27

Carry on yhe great work guys this is the best site for DVD related Forums I,ve leant a lot and in turn I hope I,ve helped other people as well .Thats what its all about,sharing info with like minded people.Heres to the next 5 Years and beyond! ispy

2714.6.2004 8:10

Happy Birthday, AfterDawn. Thank you for all your useful information and assistance in helping me overcome the scary process of rip, shrink and burn. Mich

2817.6.2004 7:45
cdd1234
Inactive

A Very Very Very Very Very Happy Birthday guys !!! I can't believe that it's been 5 years .... so soon ! To think that I actually stumbled upon your site by accident ... but then I got hooked. Anyways ... I do hope that you'll have many more years ahead of you and you guys are around for a long tome to come. ALL THE BEST !!! U guys rock !!! *c0nRaD*

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