Walt Disney 1990's and the Internet
Disney and the Internet
In the early 1990's the Internet and more specifically the World Wide Web was very new. At Imagineering we had been using networking within a few departments to connect computers together, but they were not connected to the outside world. Next came an internal only email system called ccMail. By the mid-1990's we were starting to get real Internet email addresses and could communicate with the outside world and we were starting to use the World Wide Web with the Netscape browser. In the beginning there was little on the web to look at. The Disney.com website didn't come into existence until 1996.
What I didn't know was the origin of Disney's presence on the Internet and that a few people had started much earlier than the rest of us. In 1996 I transferred into the R&D department and met Scott Watson. What I learned was it was Scott Watson that got the idea to register the domain name Disney.com back in the early 1990's. He registered the name and set up a Unix server (called Ford) as the first Disney email server and gave himself and a few others email addresses. This equipment was physically in the R&D building at 1200 Grand Central on Imagineering campus and not at the Studio down the street in Burbank.
Later, of course, Disney I.T. would take over the domain name and email services moving it all to the Studio lot. By the mid-1990's we had our email address as our first name then middle initial (sometimes) and last name at Disney.com. Mine was firstname.lastname@example.org and saying that over the phone always took a while. I asked and was turned down to shorten my last name (email@example.com), rules are rules!
So Scott's email address was firstname.lastname@example.org. In a company of over 200,000 employees, Scott was just Scott at Disney. Well to finish off the story, since Scott set up the first email server and created email addresses, he created these nice first name only email addresses for a handful of people. When I.T. took over they grandfathered these few addresses. No one else including executives of any kind anywhere else in the company were allowed first name only email addresses.
I'm writing this on August 12, 2021. Today I was thinking about Scott. Unfortunately, Scott's life was cut short on this date in 2018 when the single engine aircraft he was flying crashed. Scott was a wonderful friend and coworker. He invented all sorts of things and had dozens of patents. He was not afraid to try anything. More on Scott later.
In a world where companies like Delta Airlines didn't register delta.com in time, Scott saved Disney from later fights for domain names by jumping in at the very beginning.
Scott, we all miss you!
* Many companies didn't understand what the Internet was about back then and random people registered names of companies hoping to get rich. Back then there was no recourse for a company except to pick a different name or buy the other person out. I personally remember that Delta Airlines website was DeltaAirlines.com for many years. Now it is Delta.com.
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