– We still haven’t nailed down the hard-and-fast date of when Sheldon first went online, but thanks to the efforst of many in the comments of this post, we’ve reached the theoretical limit of *how far back we can look* using archive.org.
– The problem, as these Sheldonistas soon found, was that I didn’t *date* the strips when they first went up. They were titled “Sheld1.gif”, “Sheld2.gif”, etc.
– Compounding that problem, I was literally learning how the internet worked in 1998, using Microsoft Word (Ha!) to update my site. What that means is, even though the first strip might’ve been first put up in, say, November, that entire page was probably updated 5-10 ten times over the school year, as I learned how to make link graphics, or changed my background, or tinkered with fonts, etc, etc. And if archive.org first captured pages in Spring/Summer of ’09, it would’ve captured only the most recent update.
– As our capable researchers discovered, it looks like that most recent update was done in June, 1999. (But tellingly, other random pages in the site were last modified in May, 1999.)
– On other fronts: The University of Kent has written back with apologies, saying they deleted the data from those student accounts almost a decade ago. So no luck on that front. Additionally, no reader from ’98-’99 has presented themselves, nor do my I own paper records show anything.
– What does this all mean? It means we probably will never know, exactly, when that first Sheldon strip went online. I have a memory of it being in Fall, 1998…but there’s no way to prove or disprove that.
– My final thought on it? In my own mind, I’ll continue thinking the strip first went online in Fall, 1998, with the knowledge that the first provable, actually *archived* pages of the site weren’t captured until May and June 1999.
– And, as is always true of Wikipedia, the Sheldon page over there will probably randomly list May 9, 1974 or Novembruary 33, 1864 as the launch date. Ah, Wikipedia, how I love you.
– I want to thank the Sheldonistas who added to our search. You guys found archive.org pages in minutes that I’ve been looking for for years! And for those who really aided in the search, I’d like to mail a little humble “thank you”. Drop me an e-mail if your username is zoster_i, carolcapp, asrailight, appleseed, Schandlich, sheepster, lee_oades, Ghlitch, Erimore, Sullosar, Maestro, tovias, argon, dooby, IanNeufeld, aussiesteve, frzndaqiri…or if you were one of the two-dozen Sheldonistas who e-mailed in their thoughts. I can’t thank all of you with the personalized high-five I’d like, but a little mailed “thank you” will have to do.