Friday, March 8, 2019

Houdini's early days online

Today I feel like giving a nostalgic shoutout to two Houdini websites that pioneered Houdini news and information on the net. While no longer updated, both sites are still available online.

First up is Bob King's "Houdini Tribute", which I believe may have been the very first Houdini site on the web. Bob devoted his site to historical Houdini ephemera as well as news and current events. It's still a fun place to explore as there are some hidden gems. The super old school design is also part of its appeal.


The next site is George Ford's Houdiniana.com, launched in 1999. I always found Houdiniana an exciting destination as it was mostly devoted to current Houdini news and events. The site went offline in 2007 and George seems to have fallen out of the Houdini world. But he was a pioneer and a good guy.  Houdiniana can be viewed via the Wayback Machine.


Finally, there was Houdini Connection, launched in 1998. I don't know who ran this site. It stopped updating in 2007, but is still online.


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14 comments:

  1. I remember the Houdiniana website around 2001. The first one about HH that I discovered. Was it produced by the Cannon Escape people?

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    1. Ohhhh, yes. I have it wrong above. Houdiniana.com was George Ford's website. It's offline, but can be view via the Wayback Machine website.

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    2. I've reworked the post to correct and include George Ford's Houdiniana.

      Delete
  2. Not long after I discovered Ford's Houdiniana, I discovered John's blog: the early days of WAH. I thought "Wow! This guy has a better Houdini website site. I'll stay here.!"

    By then Ford was slowing down or had completely stopped updating that website. What I remember best about that site was the photo of HH in the coffin at his funeral.

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  3. Beyond the above sites, I looked a lot at Houdini.org and the old Houdini Historical Center Outagamie Museum site. I seem to recall the Mystifier newsletter going briefly to an exclusively online format there, but I'm not sure if this recollection is accurate. I picked up a lot about collecting Houdiniana just from reading Mario Carrandi's catalogs (and occasionally chatting with him at poster shows) though I don't recall if there was an online version of the catalog (how one chose to look at a lot of the older online resources was dependent on computer/ website/internet speeds back then, and what area of Houdiniana I was looking for at the time. Also the site design and how well the search functions worked were factors - most searches were fairly primitive and tedious in the late 90s/early 2000s). WAH quickly became the go-to source because it encompassed (and still does) everything Houdini-related, and because of the quality/regulatory of the updates. In the early internet days, I also searched a lot of magic-related online auction catalogs and general magic sites for anything connected to Houdini, and picked up various facts about him through osmosis.

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  4. Also remember doing a lot of searches related to David Copperfield, particularly after seeing his Broadway show and TV appearances in the late 90s. It was still early internet days but this also led to a deeper interest not only in how his illusions might have been done, but Houdini's.

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  5. We believe our Houdini Museum houdini.org website was one of the first if not the first Houdini site online. Even before WayBackMachine went online.
    Here is a link to the earliest recorded pages we could find though the site had already up for quite a while.
    http://web.archive.org/web/19971210072154/http://www.microserve.net/~magicusa/houdini.html
    As you see this is a page from 1997, some 22 years ago.
    The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web and other information on the Internet. It was launched in 2001. They got these links from a prior organization that began to archive sites so as you see Way Bak Machine has pages of our from 1997 to 2001 as well, although we started well before those dates. I learned early on to code in html as at the time I felt the Internet had a great future. When John Cox Put up his fabulous site we felt a great relief, since there was no way we could have ever found the time, with our many projects and live shows to do Houdini justice on the Internet, as John has.

    Dick Brookz
    The Houdini Museum, Scranton, PA
    The Only Building in the World Dedicated to Houdini

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    1. Indeed, I think you may have been the first!

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  6. The change to the current site archived at

    http://web.archive.org/web/20000302110155/http://houdini.org/

    is when our internet company went out of business (microserve.net) and we then paid for our own dedicated server to host houdini.org and several of our other sites such as dellodell.com, joanbrandon.com, dorothydietrich.com, dickbrookz.com, etc.

    Dick Brookz
    The Houdini Museum, Scranton, PA
    The Only Building in the World Dedicated to Houdini

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  7. I remember all of these sites, but I used to haunt Houdini Tribute all the time. This is the website that got me into Houdini in the first place, after finding some super dodgy and inaccurate sites first, which I had only gone looking at because of a rather cheesy "New Outer Limits" episode (talked about on this blog already) which had sparked my 13 year-old brain's curiosity. I remember the graphics were quite impressive, back then, and the collection of images and gifs and videos was just superb! Bob King was also a good guy and ran a tight ship.

    I also remember winning a contest and getting a signed photo of Houdini from Marie Blood. And then I lost that photo, and I'm still a little sad and bothered about that. Especially as it may have got mistaken for recycling. I hope someone found it, and saved it, and it didn't just become pulp. :(

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    1. (In case it's not clear, the contest was via Houdini Tribute.com).

      Thanks for posting this, John. Thank heavens for the Wayback Machine, to remind us of how simple (yet cluttered) those old sites were, and how the resourcefulness of just a few folks made these sites possible. People complain about Wikipedia, but it's so easy, compared with the assortment of resources available before, and finding things on Google or Yahoo or some other search engine wasn't half so easy as now.

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    2. Thanks gingertimelady. Fun to look back on these. So it was Houdini Tribute that got you into Houdini? That is great. We all have our origin stories. For so many it was the Tony Curtis movie on TV or the Scholastic biography in school. But for you a website! The new generation. :)

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  8. 22 years seems to be the oldest, possibly the first!

    The Houdini Museum, Scranton PA
    The Only Building in the World Dedicated to Houdini!

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  9. Just checked the microserve archive above and it seems they archived the entire site and many links. It was a huge site even way back then. They archived a lot of it. AMAZING! The internet copyrights for these pages goes back to 1993!
    http://web.archive.org/web/19971210072154/http://www.microserve.net/~magicusa/houdini.html

    ReplyDelete

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