20 Years of ACD

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20 Years of ACD

Post by Lemming » Wed 16th May 2018 12:21 pm

Yes, it's nearly as old as the Internet* itself!

Back in 1998 this new-fangled Internet thingy was just becoming popular. As a programmer, it seemed like a bandwagon I should be jumping onto. These things called 'web sites' were popping up all over the place and I wanted to learn how they were made. The easiest way to learn seemed to be to try to build a simple web site myself.

My very first attempt was about the band Here & Now but I didn't have much material for that. For my second exercise I chose a subject that I had some more knowledge of, Amsterdam's coffeeshops (I'd already been visiting Amsterdam for 10 years and had taken several friends over there and introduced them to my favourite coffeeshops).

By this time I'd learned how to make clickable spots on a picture and I fancied combining this with my love of maps. So I drew a map of Amsterdam and marked the coffeeshops on it. This was a fun exercise and I thought the resulting map would be useful to me and my friends.

This clickable map become the centrepiece of the new site. Combined with a few notes on each shop there was just about enough material to build a simple web site with a bit of basic functionality. On the 3rd of July 1998 I uploaded this site to a bit of spare space on an account belonging to my then employers (I don't think they ever knew).

There is a copy of this very first ACD here.

This copy is functional but most of the external links no longer work. The rest of the world has moved on after 20 years.

Much to my surprise, this new site started to get visitors other than just me and my friends. In fact, it quickly became rather popular.

With people seemingly finding the site useful, I thought I'd better make some effort to improve it and make it into a real resource rather than an exercise in learning HTML. I added more pictures and descriptions, expanded the site from its initial four pages and gradually attempted to include all of the coffeeshops in Amsterdam and the rest of the Netherlands.

Strangely, as far as I know, there is no public definitive list of all of the coffeeshops in the Netherlands. One of my main sources was Highlife Guide, a paper directory, along with countless other sources. Since I created my database, most subsequent coffeeshop sites seem to have used the ACD as their main source - if I made a mistake or misspelled something, it's been replicated everywhere.

In 2000 I moved the site from my employer's web space to FreeUK and in 2001 I bought the domain name 'coffeeshopdirect' but until 2016 this only acted as a redirection to the FreeUK location.

As the site grew from its original four pages, I designed it to work in 'frames' and gave it a sort of 3D look with rounded corners. It remained that way for many years but this style went out of fashion and eventually I redesigned it again using CSS.

From the early days I began to receive emails from people recounting their visits to coffeeshops and, after a while, I added comments sections to the shop pages to publish these reviews.

In time, the volume of these emails became overwhelming. I also became aware that many of the people writing to me were also members of a forum on the Channels site. It struck me that a forum attached to the ACD would give people an alternative means of posting coffeeshop reviews and other stuff.

My friend Brian (RIP) introduced me to Peter (RIP) who had a server and the knowhow to set up a forum. He kindly offered to create one for me for fun. In March 2005 the new forum went live.

Initially the forum was on Peter's localinet domain but this was associating his mainstream business with cannabis so he changed it to coffeeshopdirect.info. After Peter's death I lost that domain and temporarily used acdforum.site. FBN kindly hosted the forum on his server for a while and then HullDJ provided not only some server space but also a means of finally using the coffeeshopdirect domain name properly for both the main site and the forum.

HullDJ continues to host the whole of the ACD. Much thanks to him for that.

So, on the 3rd of July 2018 ACD will be 20 years old. Macky has generously invited a few people over to Canada to celebrate this anniversary and legalisation in Canada, scheduled for July 1st. See here.

* Strictly speaking it was Tim Berners-Lee's World Wide Web that appeared in the 90s, the underlying Internet is older.

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Pierre von Mondragon
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Re: 20 Years of ACD

Post by Pierre von Mondragon » Wed 16th May 2018 03:05 pm

Cheers for posting the old site man, very cool. I don't think I even used the internet until 1999, and that was in uni buildings, so never saw it then. Mad props for the years of keeping it going when so many things like it fade away.

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Re: 20 Years of ACD

Post by AzLaker » Thu 17th May 2018 05:07 pm

Thanks for the history lesson Lemming. Wouldn't be the same without having a ACD map on me. :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

If you never do, you'll never know.

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Re: 20 Years of ACD

Post by RoMoney » Fri 18th May 2018 08:08 pm

Lovely post and piece of history, really enjoyed the original site you shared, I was using the internet in the 90s for anime research and anime fan sites used to all look like that too :) So simplistic.

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Re: 20 Years of ACD

Post by jiffa » Sat 19th May 2018 02:45 pm

I Remember printing a copy of the map for my first trip in 1999. How time flies and now planning a trip for my mates 50th at New Years. Lost count of how many trips between then and now and this site has always been a constant for information on whats good, bad or Meh! Honest opinions help with planning a trip(Not counting usual stoner distractions :mrgreen: ) That destroy best laid plans!

Thanks Lemming and everyone who has contributed to making the site an invaluable guide for anyone making that first trip to the wonderful city and beyond.
Jail for growing a plant laughed the gypsy!

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ed the head
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Re: 20 Years of ACD

Post by ed the head » Tue 5th Jun 2018 01:01 pm




He who tries to shine dims his own light

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