Welcome to the 13th issue of Internet Modeler. If you are superstitious 13 is an unlucky number, however for a magazine it marks an anniversary. The history of Internet Modeler is longer than 13 months, though. To go back to the beginning, one would have to return to the summer of 1997. Way back then I was trying to land a web page client who had a generic knick-knack store. He wanted to put his inventory up on the web and have an online store. His merchandise wasn't something that would sell well online, though, so I offered to try and come up with a different approach. One thing this client did was publish a monthly newsletter full of interesting tidbits as well as coupon items. This was the impetus for designing a monthly magazine-style web site. I set up an example site to show how it would work, and that site was called Aviation What-Not.
Aviation What-Not was put together quickly, purely as a proof-of-concept web site. I grabbed whatever was close at hand for content and tossed it all together. Upon showing it to the client, his comment was "It'll never work." So I ended up designing a basic online store for the client instead (which ultimately failed for the reasons I advised him at the beginning, but that's another story), and just for the heck of it I kept Aviation What-Not going. I posted a note to rec.models.scale announcing the presence of this towards the middle of September 1997 and by the end of the month I had reached a stunning total of 200 visitors! But it was a fun little diversion and I was able to actually do something more than buy new kits and stick them in the closet.
Another aspect of Aviation What-Not was the artwork. With AW-N I started trying my hand at doing computer profiles. At first they were incredibly crude as I began the learning curve. But gradually they improved, along with the content of the site. Each month, more and more people were visiting the site and I began to get readers offering their own material. I met a lot of people this way, including some on the current Internet Modeler staff. The largest impact, though, came from someone on the WWI Mailing List. After seeing my profile work, he decided that collaboration would make both of us better artists, and that's how Bob Pearson came on board.
At this time, Aviation What-Not was reaching about 2000 readers a month, and the content ranged from new kit releases to historical articles to full build modeling articles. A profile section and book reviews were also included, as well as a photo topic. Not every month included all of these, as it was still being done just for fun. One of the more prolific contributors was Tom Cleaver, who ended up leaving to join another online magazine. We kept in touch, however, and after seeing what the magazine he was working for was doing, I started thinking about expanding Aviation What-Not into a full-blown online modeling magazine. While I was enjoying the history part of AW-N, it wasn't generating as much traffic or e-mail as the modeling end of things. Therefore I started planning a new layout and thought about ways to increase the content as well. Before I could get there, though, a stroke of good luck happened. Tom Cleaver left his previous magazine and approached me with a team of contributors, including our current Senior Editor, Michael Benolkin, with a similar idea in mind. With these new people on board, my current design and implementation skills, and Bob's graphic artistry, out of Aviation What-Not came Internet Modeler.
September 1998 marked the first issue of Internet Modeler, ironically one year after I started Aviation What-Not. Now we're celebrating one year of Internet Modeler, yet I feel like celebrating two years of success. All I can say is I'm sorry Mr. Stevens, but it DOES work!
For a taste of nostalgia, and to see the heritage of Internet Modeler, I have made the entire year's worth of Aviation What-Not available once again. From the small beginnings to the final month, everything can be seen in its original form, right here.