The History of ICON
by Bill Meier
ICON first evolved from a few collectors who had email access in the 1994 time frame. Past Drip Point editor Tom Katonak reported in late 1993 and early 1994 that he had received some email submissions of DP articles. In early 1994 Keith Roloson began maintaining a central list of email addresses of collectors. Near the end of 1994, Keith reported his list had 14 members. By March 1995, the list had 40 names, and managing it by hand was getting to be a chore.
In March 1995, Don Lundell, another collector with computer access, offered to take over the mailing list, and put it on an automated mailing list server. This was a big breakthrough, because it meant collectors could send to one address , and have their message broadcast to all other collectors on the list. By November 1995, the list contained 100 members.
We never had a good name for the mailing list, it was just referred to as the "insulators mailing list", so in September 1995, we had a "name the list" contest, and after some furious brainstorming, the name ICON (Insulator Collectors On the Net) was chosen. Bob Stahr submitted the winning name.
In August 1996, the mailing list address was changed to , and the number of subscribers was growing rapidly.
In February 2000, it was recognized that some people wanted to be registered on ICON, but not be on the mailing list, so this was made an option. However, over 90% of the members still stayed on the mailing list.
Finally, in March 2000, the address of the mailing list became , truly reflecting the nature of the mailing list!
In May 2000, an historic milestone was reached. The ICON mailing list topped 1000 member families, significantly exceeding the number of NIA member families. ICON was here to stay, and a significant force in the insulator hobby!
More exact statistics about the collectors on the ICON mailing list where not collected until August 1996. However, today there are about one hundred charter members still active on ICON. That's about 10% of all the members!
The Insulators Web Site:
Another technology that was evolving as more collectors had Internet email access was the infamous "World Wide Web" (WWW). Today this is simply known as "the web" or "the internet". The WWW allowed placement of text and photographs on various computers around the world, and allowed for anyone with a Web Browser to access this information.
In April 1995, Don Lundell started a basic web page about insulators, at www.resilience.com/insulators -- this was the "birth" of the insulators web site. At this time, I got very excited about this new technology, and took over as "Webmaster" in May 1995.
Interest in this web site was building, so I knew it was appropriate that the web site have its own domain name. On January 21, 1996, the domain insulators.com was registered, and the insulators web site was permanently moved to www.insulators.com and "open for business" on February 21, 1996.
[Side note: On December 4, 2003 the domain insulators.info was registered but did not have an active web site. In May 2008, the original domain insulators.com was sold, and the site moved to the domain www.insulators.info. Read more about the sale of insulators.com.
To this day, www.insulators.info remains the largest, most complete web site about glass and porcelain insulators on the Web. Dozens of smaller sites highlighting other people's personal collections and insulator experiences have also sprung up.
In January 2001, the domain myinsulators.com was created. This allowed free web hosting for ICON members. This was a site devoted to insulator collectors who wanted a stable web location and free web hosting with no ads and banners. There are several "subsites" designed by collectors from outside the US, including a great site about Hungarian insulators and a couple sites about Australian insulators. Today over thirty collectors have created their own insulator pages here.
Related Web Sites:
The insulators web site contained information about the NIA and Crown Jewels of the Wire from the very start. In early 1997, Carol McDougald started www.crownjewelsofthewire.com as a web site specifically for the magazine and other related material, such as book listings and the price guide. [Note: the domain name was shorted to www.cjow.com in 2004]. Today, Howard Banks is the editor of CJ. In October 1998, the NIA information at www.insulators.com/nia was moved to www.nia.org, and Bob Berry , the NIA's Promotion & Education chairman, took over as Webmaster.
For more information on ICON, visit www.insulators.info/icon or click on the "ICON" logo.
Disclaimer: ICON is not
associated with the NIA or Crown Jewels of the Wire.
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Written January 21, 2003; Last updated Sunday, January 20, 2016