The Days Before Launch
This post is part of the tenth birthday celebrations of bbc.co.uk.
It is only ten years ago, but it seems a lifetime away.
Actually, it is nearer twelve years since BBC News decided on an internet presence, but it took almost two to launch News Online. The Corporation doesn't do much in a hurry, which is probably a good thing when there are big sums of public money at stake.
In those two years, MSNBC might have been MSBBC instead.
There were exploratory talks with Microsoft - but, after the software giant suggested it might like some editorial input, the BBC pointed out its independence was sacrosanct, and that was that. Microsoft also thought of starting its own rival to the internet and we trialed the company's own HTML-killing programming language called Blackbird, which wasn't bad.
But then Bill Gates came to his senses, realising that actually - by the mid-nineties - the internet was already too well established to defeat.
So eventually, after expensive outside consultants had spent several weeks preparing a report for the BBC on the pros and cons of a technology not even experts understood, the okay was given for BBC News Online. And, inevitably, after months of stop-stop-stop, it was suddenly go-go-go.
Get it up and running in sixteen weeks, we were told. Then the technical director left. Luckily for us, the man who was running the programming team at The Times website wanted out and brought a selection of the brightest and best across with him. Geniuses every one, all of whom refused to stop working even when ordered home in the middle of every night.
This was fortunate as we discovered other big news sites were struggling hopelessly to get web pages up because journalists were instructed to write code as well as stories. This is madness as any rookie who's tried raw HTML knows: a single wayward backlash results in gibberish.
In double-quick time the programmers developed a production system, the basics of which still remain in use ten years later. And journalists using HTML code became a sackable offence.
With three weeks to go, we took our designs to the BBC's authority on such matters for what we assumed would be a formal nod of approval. Again luck struck because someone in the guru's office noticed that what we intended to serve up - though brilliant - might take several hours to render on people's screens down ponderous dial-up connections.
Our design director, to his eternal credit, worked feverishly to produce a set of much less ambitious page structures and it was to be sometime before technology was able to handle the great ideas he had originally proposed.
Then there were the journalists. Or rather, there weren't. A few bright, prescient individuals came from other BBC departments to work on the web, but most people in the organisation viewed the new setup as a bunch of anti-social nerds, doomed to failure. So text journalists - text and a few still pictures being the early staple of all internet news sites - were recruited from outside.
The rest, as they say, is history. Today, interactive skills are amongst the most prized in the media and anyone hoping to get ahead in TV and radio is expected to have or understand them.
And a decade on, everyone knows just how powerful news on the internet is. In fact, it is probably the very future of news, as information becomes available on a host of devices big and small, but all connected.
When I was asked in the early days what BBC News Online would become I used to say: a national and international newspaper, updated every minute of every day, with the best of TV and radio mixed in. And it would take ten years.
Privately, I thought it would probably be much longer but then the internet has been the fastest developing technology ever. And, really, it has only just started. Exciting times ahead.
Mike Smartt was BBC News Interactive's Editor-in-chief for its first eight years. The image in the story body shows Mike reporting from Rwanda in December 1994.