I founded our community in June of 1994 — while the exact date has been lost to time, generally we celebrate the day on June 15th. That means we’ve just crossed the 20-year threshold of simming! That puts us among the oldest institutions on the web, and certainly makes us one of the longest-standing communities.
When we started simming on AOL chat rooms, AOL didn’t even have a Internet browser in its software, and the idea of the Internet was unknown to most people. “Online” meant a service you dialed into — AOL, Prodigy, Compuserve — using a good ol’ fashioned phone line and modem. Your time on the service was billed in minutes!
Simming, and the trappings of our community, have changed immensely since those first, formative years. We began without an official roster in chat rooms, where we simmed live. People simply showed up at the time we had set previously, and everyone picked a duty post they were comfortable with. The simming was more focused on the action of the plot than the characters, since things moved so quickly and it was difficult to add characterization into the sim.
When we moved to an email format, there was no freely available email listserv service, so everyone’s email address was added to the “To: ” line of the email — you can imagine how often that got messed up! Sims were shorter and more dialogue-focused, as you can see in the archive of the USS Freedom-A, commanded by Captain Jeff Pelletier.
The group you’re a member of today was molded by some of the earliest players. Elinor of Kanist, one of the first members of the group, formed the Academy to train new members and relieve captains of the stressful duty of bringing cadets up to speed with how simming works, and also created the Reporter, the group newsletter that still influences how we talk to our membership. Shaun Marlin built our first website in the earliest days of the widely-available web, and laid the groundwork for the website structure that still exists today. Brian Kelly wrote our group constitution in 2000 — at that time he had been a member for over five years. For a full accounting of our group’s commanding officers, check out the Fleet Timeline.
Since those first days, we’ve been the parent group to other sims — including some that now claim to be older than ours, seen thousands of simmers pass through our hallowed email lists, written hundreds of thousands of sims, launched and closed dozens of ships, watched two whole Star trek series from beginning to end and a half-dozen movies premier, and influenced the formation and flowering of an online Star Trek ecosystem from the Daystrom Institute Technical Library to Memory-Alpha.
It’s hard to imagine how we can honor this history. The countless hours of writing, creating, plotting, and administrating that have been a part of our shared collective were given freely and gladly, but nonetheless helped to make something enduring. Gene Roddenberry’s vision was one of an inspirational future, where humans have something to be proud of. We are keeping that vision alive in every word we write, and when it comes to honoring traditions and the history of our community, I think that’s a great place to start.
So here’s to another 20 years of simming. I look forward to the adventure.