Revisiting a Website I Created in 1996: Engineering Writing Centre (University of Toronto)

During the Christmas break of 1996, when I was working on my Ph.D. at the University of Toronto, I asked my boss at the Engineering Writing Center if I could log about 10 hours converting a bunch of paper handouts into hyperlinked web documents.

I actually put in about 20 hours, and slapped into shape the first rough version of the website.

The oldest archive I can find is from May 1997. I wrote a Java program that generated GIFs to recreate the iconic Star Trek TNG/DS9/Voyager LCARS computer displays. It was for the same project that I drew, pixel by pixel, the red X, yellow question mark, and green checkmark that I use throughout my instructional pages.


A slightly later version of the writing centre page included a link to “Annotated Lists of Links,” which was at the time how I described the emerging web phenomenon that Jorn Barger, in late 1997, christened “weblog.”

The Engineering Writing Centre is an instructional facility at the University of Toronto which offers APSC students individual help with writing assignments. The centre also offers workshops on technical communication issues: from making oral presentations and preparing resumés to how to approach writing in a midterm or final exam.

–Cached from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine; University of Toronto Engineering Writing Centre

For comparison, here is what Apple’s home page looked like in April 1997.