2009 marks the 20th anniversary of the earliest entries in theLogBook.com’s Episode Guides section. Originated as a simple episode guide to Star Trek: The Next Generation, the LogBook text file was distributed by several dial-up computer bulletin board systems across the globe. With the use of store-and-forward networks such as OGGnet and FidoNet, distribution became more coordinated – and the guide proved popular enough to expand to cover the original Star Trek and the classic BBC space opera Blake’s 7.
The early 1990s brought more additions to the LogBook, which was now circulating as a ZIP file of several large text files; ongoing coverage of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Babylon 5 and Red Dwarf were added to the mix. The summer of 1994 was abuzz with major SFTV and movie developments, with the first Star Trek: TNG movie around the corner and another upcoming Star Trek spinoff, Voyager. It also saw the publication of the first issue of the LogBook print ‘zine, which included not only the latest additions to the episode guide files, but the first critiques and reviews to appear under the LogBook banner. The latest news available from the just-on-the-cusp-of-the-internet world was printed, with an emphasis on leaving rumors at the door.
1995 saw the continuation of the episode guide files and the ‘zine, as well as the summer debut of what seemed, at the time, to be an extremely optional new distribution channel for the LogBook files: the world wide web. As the BBS network was still the primary means of distribution for the LogBook, the simple web site (with – for the dial-up days – a mammoth, unwieldly image map menu) echoed the latest BBS release of the files, as well as offering information about subscribing to the ‘zine. (A subscription at the time involved sending in enough postage to get the next 12 issues to you – a bit of a naive fee considering the mounting printing costs of the ‘zine. The final issue was published in September 1995.)
Migrating from its original home on a server at the University of Arkansas, to co-habiting with Mark Holtz’s popular Deep Space Franchise site, and finally to its own server space and domain – theLogBook.com – the late 1990s saw the beginnings of Phosphor Dot Fossils (in the form of an archive originally devoted to preserving the sights, sounds and memories of vintage Odyssey2 games), a rapidly growing selection of soundtrack and other music reviews, and a new section chronicling SF-related toys old and new.
The core content of the site is now two decades old, and the site continues to grow on a weekly basis. Where, 20 years ago, the intent was simply to create a guide to track stories, actors, writers and directors through a single TV series, the LogBook Episode Guides will cross a major milestone this year: 2,500 television episodes chronicled, across over 40 shows – with more on the way.
So in 2009, we’re going to pause, every so often, to look back on where and how the site started – as a humble text file compiled by a high school senior and shared online with friends and others with similar interests – and marvel at where it’s been. theLogBook.com has spun off a successful documentary DVD (based on the award-winning Phosphor Dot Fossils video game archive), and 2009 will see a second installment of that project, along with a book based on some of the site’s content, due later in the year. Other projects carrying theLogBook’s wealth of information on the geekier side of pop culture nostalgia into media beyond the internet will likely follow.
Thanks for being part of the journey – and stick around, because there’s much more to come.
theLogBook.com creator, editor-in-chief & webmaster