Stellafane 'Little Man' - click for Stellafane Home Page Web History Page Header

Stellafane Internet & Web History

On the Internet before the Web, ~1985...

John Martin believes that Stellafane ran one of the first BBS (Bulletin Board System) in the state of Vermont starting sometime around 1985. He wrote a BBS application for a Commodore 64 computer which was located in the bunkhouse. This was a dial-up system, you had to call the BBS and hope no one else was connected, or you would get a busy signal. The BBS was a text terminal system, and had meeting notices, a message board where people could leave messages and some picture files, in essence what we do today on the web before the web came into existence (pictures would be listed by file name, and would have had to be downloaded to be viewed).

Around 1990 we upgraded to a commercial BBS (Buffalo BBS). That lasted another few years until Steve Bumrucker got a application going on the actual internet. Steve had access to a server which was very expensive at the time, but that was Stellafane's first presence on the internet before the World Wide Web came into existance.

Web Beginnings, 1994-1997

Image of 1997 Stellafane Home Page
Screen capture of the top of the 1997 Stellafane Home Page

The first Stellafane web page was on the web in 1994 and it was started by Steve Baumrucker, MD "Doctor to the Stars". Like many astronomy sites, it had a black star field background and bright aqua text. A note at the top of the page admonishes you that "This page will look worse than an early Hubble pic if you don't have at least Netscape 2.0!", a reminder about how fast browser technology was evolving back then. We started out as, and carried this forward until 2007 when we switched to

By 1997, the credits page listed the following people as helping out Steve with the web site:

  • Tom Spirock (Editorial Admonitions)
  • John Martin (Spelling and Grammar)
  • Melinda and Gerry Callis-DeLuca (Photos, Aesthetics)
  • Maryann Arrien (Reprints from Stellafane News, Editorial Input, Photos)
  • Lily Lou (Photometric Scanning)
  • Bert Willard (Historical Mastery of all things Stellafane)
  • Scott Milligan (Schupmann Article, Photos)
  • Mitch Melassanos (Generally Keeping Us in Line)
  • Norm Fredrick (Porter Photos, Perpetual Club Treasurer)
  • Brad Vietje (Convention Photos)

Visit the January 24, 1997 Stellafane Home Page. Note that we have disabled all of the off-page hyperlinks, as we don't want you to get stuck in a time warp (and they wouldn't work anyway!).

Second Generation, 1998-2005

Image of 2003 Home Page
Screen capture of the top of the 2003 Stellafane Home Page
Tom Spirock
Tom Spirock, 2004
Sitting outside the
Pink Clubhouse.

Tom Spirock took over as webmaster, and in June 1998 he introduced a new look to the web site that featured a pink background that was a good match to the color of the pink clubhouse (note the color of the web page image above, and the color of the pink clubhouse behind Tom in the photo at right). It also had a framed-based navigation bar along the bottom of the screen. Under his stewardship, the web site grew quite a bit as he added more material and built up extensive photographic and then video coverage of the conventions. That advent of digital cameras, of which Tom was an early adaptor, played a big role in providing photos for the website.

Tom recruited Ken Slater as "ATM Webmaster" in November 1998. Ken started what was to become a large section on mirror making. Later Ken added a section on the Stellafane Mirror Class, and coded up a Moon Phase and Equinox calculator based on embedded JavaScript in the web page.

While Tom continued to ask people for articles and photos, Tom did most of the work on the web himself as volunteers were scarce to non-existent. Ken did all the content creation and web management in the ATM and mirror class areas. During much of this time, Tom was resident at Big Bear Solar Observatory in California obtaining a PhD. in astronomy, and being webmaster was a job that could be done away from Stellafane.

Visit the December 19, 2003 Stellafane Home Page. Once again, we have disabled all the of the off-page links, while on-page jumps and "click-to-enlarge photo" links are turned on. We even let you turn off the navigation frame.

Current Web, 2006...

Ken Slater
Ken Slater, 2002,
Grinding a 12" Mirror

Tom Spirock retired as webmaster at the end of 2005, and Ken Slater took over in early 2006. Ken had been part of a small group at the club (Wayne Zuhl, Iliana Filby and Glenn Becker) who were working on a web site redesign. The group's goal was to make the Stellafane web look "more modern" and easier to navigate. The result is the white background pages you are currently viewing...

2007-Sep Update Two big (for the website at least) changes in September 2007:

  • We added a Stellafane website only search using the Google custom search, with results appearing in a Stellafane 'new style' web page. We wanted to do this as part of the 2006 redesign to improve navigation, but didn't find an acceptable solution until now.
  • We have switched our primary domain from .com to .org. Since we are a non-profit, this aligns with our organizations true status. We will continue to register .com and .net, and they will show the same website as Stella­, so all your old bookmarks will continue to work. However, we will now refer to ourselves as

2012-2013 Update More evolution:

  • We are reconfiguring all our pages to be HTML5 compliant. Since we have a lot pages, this is being done over several years.
  • The Home Page was redseigned to be less cluttered and now incorporates a menu bar.
  • Page backgrounds are now a very light gray, less pink is being used on the pages, and highlighted sections sit in white background 'bubbles'.
  • Google translate is now provided in the footer of each re-designed page, since we have a large inter­national readership.
Page last revised on Thursday, 2017-Sep-07 09:56:17 -0400