Many years ago – more than I care to mention (ok, it was 1996) – I ran threemedia with my two co-founders. This page exists purely as a place for me to reminisce and post some files I recently found of our early experimental work when we were seeing how far ‘modern browsers’ (such as Internet Explorer 4 and Netscape 3!) could be pushed. Jump to the experiment archive here.
Some friends and I were lucky enough to have exposure to the ‘World Wide Web’ back in 1996, I say lucky because the World Wide Web only became available to the public in 1993. Our group was a trio with experience in what had once been completely unrelated industries (graphic design and programming) but which we realised could be combined to produce something special on the ‘World Wide Web’. To this day my co-founders and friend – Colin Alexander and Jamie Blakesley – are two of the most creative and talented people I’ve had the pleasure of working with and I’ll always have a pang of regret we didn’t stick to our guns and try ride out the bang (more on that later).
We started tinkering and planning and pretty quickly gained interest from all sorts of agencies and groups who realised we were ahead of the game. Barclay’s Bank gave me a £8000 graduate loan which we used to buy computer equipment, printers, stationary and domain names (the latter were very pricey in those days). The business moved from the front room of a student house, to the spare room of my apartment and from my apartment to a dedicated studio. We were the masters of our destiny and in terms of career, this is one of the happiest times of my life.
So what went wrong? The .com bubble burst – companies went from throwing money at web based projects (ready the history of LastMinute.com for the most public spectacle of the time) to distancing themselves as far as possible and the work dried up. Web design agencies went bust left, right and centre – the only thing that saved us from going bust was our lack of business acumen: we didn’t have investors, loans (other than my graduate loan) or any other significant overheads. We decided to bow out gracefully, dividing up the spoils of our adventure and each taking jobs – alas that was the end of the threemedia era.
The threemedia Experiment Archive
The experiments below are literally just files I found in a ZIP on an old hard drive – for the most part they never went live and are just things we played with. What I’m most proud of is our Flash work – back then Macromedia still owned Flash and ActionScript was in its first version so we really had to push the boundaries.
The trend for gateways was huge then as not everyone had Flash player and there was no reliable Flash detection available so you had to give users the choice – we thought gateways were dull so decided to have a gallery of 30 different gateways than randomly displayed on each visit, here’s a few of them:
Website Gateway 1 – A Layout based on the Q-Bert game
Website Gateway 2 – Simple Circles Layout
Website Gateway 4 – Nice Simple Grid Layout
Website Gateway 9 – Road Traffic Sign Style
Website Gateway 16 – Nice Blue Gateway
We also experimented with the idea of creating sites that used no images – back then when there was no such thing as CSS, images were everything so we had to be fairly creative with the HTML, this is my favourite one: