The origins of RTABERN.com can be traced back to first website I ever created. In July 1996 while attending Boys State Illinois, a week-long leadership program for boys between their junior and senior years of high school. It was sponsored by the American Legion and was held at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois (about 200 miles south of Chicago). While at EIU, I attended an optional course on how to build your own website. The instructor taught basic HTML codes and after a week I got to create a very crude all-text website that was hosted on Eastern Illinois' server for a year. It basically was just a paragraph long and told about my life and promoted by then-cable access television show.
In the Fall of 1996, I entered my senior year at Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, Illinois. There was a lot of excitement over the fact the school got a lot more computers with internet access over the summer. Around the same time, by best friend Alexander Rubinow, got America On-Line (AOL). In December 1996 and January 1997, he ended up creating his own website. I also helped him create and design several pages promoting "Tabern Live", the cable access show that we both co-produced and co-hosted. We created graphics for the site using the Inscriber and Lumina programs on the computers in the television production area of Glenbrook North High School.
By May 1997, Alexander and I were preparing for our upcoming graduation from Glenbrook North. In the fall, he was planning to attend college at the University of Iowa and I was set to be going to Arkansas State University. At the time, Alexander was unsure if he would be able to still keep his AOL account and website active when he moved to Iowa City. In an effort to preserve the portions of his website that dealt with our cable access show, I quickly created my own website through Geocities. At the time, Geocities was just about 18 months old. My site launched on May 20, 1997... around the same time my original website at Eastern Illinois University was also coming down.
My original website that launched on May 20, 1997 had the URL of:
So why the long URL? Well, in its original form, Geocities site users selected a "city" in which to place their web pages. The "cities" were named after real cities or regions according to their content—for example, computer-related sites were placed in "SiliconValley" and those dealing with entertainment were assigned to "Hollywood"—hence the name of the site. Since my site dealt with my passion to go into the television business, it was hosted in "Television City".
During my freshman and sophomore years in college at Arkansas State University (1997-1998), I learned a number of different graphic design programs and advanced HTML programming. As a result, I able to expand the content of my website. One of the biggest changes came when I added the side bar menu. I also added an on-line photo album feature which allowed me to share photos with family and my high school friends who were now scattered all across the country. Despite moving on to college, I kept the information about my high school cable access show available, which was the reason for creating the site.
In May 1999, Yahoo! bought Geocities. One of the features that changed was users URL's were able to be shortened. So while my website was still visible on my old "TelevisionCity/Set/1262" address... it was also visible at: http://www.geocities.com/rtabern. Despite the takeover of Geocities, Yahoo! pretty much kept everything the same and most visitors to the site didn't even notice any changes except for the shorter web address.
In late 2001, as I was just about to graduate college, I decided to take advantage of another new service offered by Yahoo! for old Geocities customers. For a fee of about $25 per year, I was able to buy my own domain name and forward it to my existing website. So instead of giving out a somewhat complicated URL addresses to people who wanted to view my site, the link suddenly became: http://www.rtabern.com. And hence, RTABERN.com was born.
Below you can see the original design and logo from when I launched RTABERN.com in 2001 and also from when I did a slight re-design of the site when I moved to Wisconsin in February 2003. For almost 6 years after that, there was very little re-design of my website. I was pretty happy with how things were looking. The only sections to really get frequently updated were the biography and photo album.
In late April 2009, I got an e-mail that Yahoo! was planning to shut down Geocities' servers in a few months. Apparently, with the increasing popularity of social networking sites like Facebook and My Space, less people were designing and maintaining personal websites. While I have a Facebook site of my own, I decided I wanted to keep RTABERN.com up and running because I can put a lot more information on there. So began the 2 month long mad scramble to convert all my old Geocities files over to my new host, Yahoo! Small Business. For the first time in 12 years, my website was leaving Geocities.
Instead of just transfering all of the old files over, I also used the transition period to re-design some aspects of RTABERN.com that I have been wanting to do for quite some time. For example, I wanted all of the menu link buttons to be on the side of the page... instead of some on the side and others at the top of the page. I also put the links in alphabetical order to make it easier for people looking to learn more about me. One of the biggest additions was the creation of a blog...that was something I wanted to do for years and just never got around to! The RTABERN.com logo also got a face lift. After a few months of intense work, the new version of my website launched on June 19, 2009.
The most recent re-launch of RTABERN.com took place in February 2011. The website once again got all new graphics and new sections were added. The biggest change that took place in 2011 was the addition of video clips to the website. To celebrate the 15th Anniversary of my high school talk show, "Tabern Live", I spent days uploading video clips to YouTube, and embedding them in the site. The new "TV Programs" part of my website features over 50 clips of television projects I was involved in -- from my early days in the mid-90's at GBN-TV, to my final years in television in the late 2000's at Milwaukee's CBS affiliate. Less popular features, like the Guestbook, were removed from RTABERN.com.
A green and pink colored theme to the page was launched on September 15, 2012 and was used through June 15, 2013. It was replaced by a light blue design featuring a sunset shot over downtown Milwaukee on the main page for about two years. The current version of RTABERN.com, featuring more scrolling information and less windows that needed to be clicked through, was launched on May 1, 2015.
Despite the increased costs of using Yahoo! Small Business over Geocities, I hope to maintain this website for many more years to come. I enjoy building and updating this site... and it's something fun and relaxing to do in my free time... as well as being a fun way to share aspects of my life with friends.
If you have any comments, ideas, or suggestions about this site... I would love to hear from you. You can send them to my e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the best... and thanks for checking out my site!
Robert T. Tabern