ROX #85 became the first television series on the Internet as of April 15, 1995. But it didn't happen overnight.
So here's the rather lengthy story of how our 85th episode, “Global Village Idiots,” came to be:
Our friend Eric Ost first put the idea into our heads back in 1993 or so.
Then we saw “WAX or the Discovery of Television Among the Bees,” which became the first movie on the MBONE in May of 1993, and J came up with a great title for our first episode on the 'Net: “ROX or the Discovery of Television by B.”
My ego was naturally inflated by the prominent presence of my initial, B, in this title, but later J thought of a better title: “Global Village Idiots.”
Eric Ost sat down with me and we posted a summary of the “J&B Get Baked” debacle to some drug-related newsgroups (MTV had just played a clip on their Straight Dope news special) — I was very confused by the whole experience, and I spent a lot of time back home on J's Mac trying to read the newsgroups to which we had posted, or ANY newsgroups for that matter, but I just couldn't figure the 'Net out
Eric also reserved our domain name for us (rox.com) and established a homepage for us on the World Wide Web (we used XY's account at IU for this).
J & I sat down one day to plan out the rest of the 3rd season (why we bother planning I don't know), and we wanted to end the season with a kicker, and it seemed like GVI was the best idea, so we set a date for it: April 18th of 1995, the coming year.
We started kicking around ideas for the episode, informally, J & TBlack & XY & me, just exchanging ideas every now and then.
Eventually we got together and had an extended “production meeting,” so-called becuz we supposedly decided what the episode would be like.
(But later on, when I assumed the mantle of “production manager” from J, I changed everything around and shot it to my liking, which caused some tension, especially between J & I.)
Money of course was always an issue. Which is to say, we were constantly running out of it.
We shot stuff together as a foursome and in smaller groups.
Meanwhile Mike Bone stumbled across a link to our homepage on something Murple, and before we knew it we had a new cyberfriend; soon Mike took over maintenance of the ROX homepage for us.
We moved the homepage to InterSource, a local internet access provider.
I started editing GVI at the Daisybrain Media Center, which had finally opened its doors in downtown Bloomington.
I also started taking VHS dubs of my work-in-progress to the Teaching and Learning Technologies Lab (TLTL) at IU, where I digitized segments of the show.
I discovered that compressing these segments was a long, slow process that could only be accomplished overnight. Sometimes the drive ran out of memory after crunching only a few files, and the whole process would have to be repeated the following night.
After compressing and “flattening” the segments, our biggest hurdle proved to be getting machines to talk to each other: we couldn't get the video off the Mac at TLTL and onto the Linux system at InterSource.
Finally Mike found a program that would allow us to transfer the info via DAT. It took a few tries to get that working.
Then I redigitized some segments and added some new stuff, including audio files, stills and text.
Meanwhile: Mike was diligently linking stuff up to the homepage. J was faxing out press releases and getting us set up to sell tapes of the show. Hamlin kept trying to scare up some sponsorship money. XY and I got kicked out of our apartment in the Allen Building, and our car just died for good — we felt lucky getting $200 for scrap.
All of a sudden we didn't have any money, and I needed a job real bad. But that story is told in the next episode, ROX #86, “The Harvest.”
And that's how the first television show on the Web got there.