Today marks the eighth anniversary of Salon's going live on the Web, on Nov. 20, 1995. As dinosaurs chomped on giant ferns and the O.J. Simpson verdict convulsed America, we pushed a button in the tiny space we shared with an architectural firm, and unveiled our first home page to an awed and breathless world.
An awed, breathless and very small world. Somewhere in my files, between the stained memo about how we were going to get rich by selling knives online (not, alas, a joke) and the crumpled photo of the staff at a "branding" exercise ("Is Salon a flower or a surfer?" -- also not a joke) there is a piece of paper listing the page views for one of our early weekly issues. (Yes, weekly -- we didn't go fully daily until February 1997.) I don't remember the numbers, but anybody who broke the thousand page-view barrier lorded it over our staff of eight like an insufferable combination of Stephen King and Shakespeare. And you didn't have to eat serious "dude, your blank verse is harshing my mellow" crow until you dropped under 100 readers.
It's hard to imagine now just how vast and daunting it felt, that online void. Like intrepid paratroopers, like pioneers of journalism, but mostly like those dimwitted cartoon characters whose feet windmill away with imbecilic confidence before they fall to their doom, we stepped out of our previous lives and into the unknown -- and we haven't hit the ground yet.
Vast changes, entrances and exits, victories and losses, have whirled down those eight years. The online world has come of age along with us -- and shaken out, alas, almost all feisty, independent publications. We have gone from being a sleepy literary and cultural review to a daily news magazine. We were swept up by the Great Lunacy of the Dot-Com Bubble -- like Mark Twain's preface in "Roughing It," our motto for that peculiar era could read "In memory of the curious time when we were millionaires for ten days" -- and dragged down by it, too. We have escaped death almost as many times as our friends in the media have buried us. We have been condemned on the floor of the U.S. Senate and praised by those whose opinions we care most about, our readers. (All right, some of you have occasionally doled out a tiny soupçon of criticism as well.)
And we have survived -- a little battered, but still here, and still considering ourselves the luckiest people in the world for getting to go to work every day and write and publish the stories that we want to, that we think are important and fun and crazy and sad and different, and that make a difference.
So to you, our readers -- from the 87 people, not all of them members of my family, who gave me bragging rights over Laura Miller eight years ago to the hundreds of thousands of you who read Salon today -- we have a simple thing to say: Thank you for the last eight years. We appreciate it.
And if Salon has come to mean something to you, please support us. Eight isn't enough -- we want Salon to survive and thrive for at least 80 more years, and we can't do it without you. Sign up for Salon Premium today, and make sure we're around for many more birthdays.
If you sign up now at the $35-a-year level, you can also receive annual subscriptions to Wired, U.S. News & World Report and National Geographic Adventure.
If you're already a Salon Premium subscriber, please consider giving a gift subscription to a friend or family member (as a subscriber, you save 33 percent -- just be sure you're logged in). Click here.
You can also upgrade your current subscription to include a year's membership in Salon's acclaimed discussion forums at the WELL and Table Talk. Click here.
Finally, if you would like to make a donation to Salon in any amount, you can do so here.
With your help, we'll celebrate many more birthdays together. Subscribe today.
-- Gary Kamiya