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Published: Tuesday, August 07, 2001

The History of 4GuysFromRolla.com

By Scott Mitchell

If I had a nickel for every time someone has asked me about the history of 4GuysFromRolla.com - be it how we arrived at the domain name or where or what, exactly, Rolla is... well, I'd have a large pile of nickels to be sure. Rather than respond to each query individually (as has been the case in the past), I decided to whip up this page, which details the history of the 4GuysFromRolla.com Web site and contains a time-line of past milestones.

- continued -

How it All Started
The year was 1998, I (Scott Mitchell) was a sophomore at the University of Missouri - Rolla (UMR) and about to begin my 9-month long internship at Empower Trainers and Consultants, a firm that provided training and consulting using Microsoft techcnologies. (Empower, which was located in Overland Park, KS, a suburb of Kansas City, went out of business some time ago.) At the start of my internship (January 1998) I knew very little HTML and knew nothing about Active Server Pages or relational databases. I had been programming in Basic, Pascal, and C++ since I was 10, but had never moved past creating desktop applications or small helper utilities.

At Empower, though, I learned about (and fell in love with) Active Server Pages. At the time, ASP 2.0 was still very new. As I taught myself ASP, I noted that there were very few resources available on-line, the main two sites then were 15Seconds.com and ActiveServerPages.com, now LearnASP.com. As my internship drew to an end I decided that once I got back to school I would start my own site rich with ASP information.

Upon returning to UMR in August, I convinced three good friends to join with me and create 4GuysFromRolla.com, a site that would boast four "sections," each section being run by one of the four guys. These four sections were: ASP Information, Programming Information, Linux Information, and a Humor section. If you couldn't guess, we were four witty computer nerds. On September 28th, 1998, 4Guys went live. Over the course of the next few months the ASP and Humor sections began to grow rapidly, while the two guys working on the Programming and Linux sections lost interest. It was now, technically, 2GuysFromRolla.com, but we kept the name 4GuysFromRolla.com.

In May 2000 I graduated from UMR and decided to keep working on 4Guys. The other guy who had previously maintained the Humor section moved on to graduate school. 4Guys was officially now 1GuyFromRolla.com. (In fact, regarding the ASP content, 4Guys has, since the beginning, been maintained solely by yours truly. Of course, a good deal of the articles on the site (~25%) have been written by contributors.)

A Bit About Rolla
Rolla, Missouri was the town where I attended school. For those who have never been to Rolla, it is about an hour and a half west of St. Louis, located square in the middle of nowhere. The school in Rolla, the University of Missouri - Rolla (UMR), is a school focusing on engineering, and the student body is predominantly male. Many people wonder how I had the time to create the hundreds of articles I've written for 4Guys (over 800 as of August 2001). The answer, when I was at UMR, was that I went to a small school in the middle of nowhere with no girls - free time was not something that was hard to find!

Starting ASPMessageboard.com and ASPFAQs.com
As time passed by, 4Guys continued to grow - the number of ASP articles kept increasing as did the number of daily visitors. One disadvantage of running a popular site is that you quickly are deluged by emails. Some emails contain gripes, others praise; most emails, though, contain questions about past articles or specific technical questions. In order to reduce the number of emails that were sent to me, in April 1999 I created ASPMessageboard.com, a public forum for asking ASP and ASP-related questions. Now users had an outlet to find answers to their common ASP questions. As the messageboard grew in popularity, many common questions were continually asked. At Bill Wilkinson's request, I created ASPFAQs.com, a site that contains hundreds of frequently asked ASP questions (along with their answers, of course!). ASPFAQs.com was founded in September 2000.

Acquired by Internet.com
In December 2000 4Guys, ASPMessageboard.com, and ASPFAQs.com were acquired by Internet.com. Since that time I've stayed on with Internet.com serving as a consultant editor and freelance author for the site.

Well, there you have it, the history of 4GuysFromRolla.com. Since starting 4Guys many years ago, back in college, I've learned a lot, met a lot of great people, and had a boatload of fun. I hope you, the reader, have learned as much and enjoyed reading the articles as much as I learned and enjoyed writing them.

Happy Programming!

  • By Scott Mitchell

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