About Lisa Shea and WineIntro.com

How it All Began

Lisa Shea Wine Guide My name is Lisa Shea - welcome to my wine site! I find it really interesting how many people want to know about my computer background. I've always thought of computers as "normal" because I grew up with them. Since I was born in 1969, many people seem to find this fascinating!

OK, so where to begin. I tried to keep this short and people kept writing with more questions, so this has gotten longer with the various details :) First, I have been on the internet since before there was a "web" aspect to it. This seems to confuse a lot of people. Back in the Old Days the internet was NOT graphical! There were no browsers. You navigated around it by dialing into computers and issuing FTP and TELNET commands to whoever you connected to.

I grew up in an east coast household in the '70s with thermal-paper terminals that dialed into mainframes over on the west coast, over phone lines. I learned to read before age 2 and by age 5 and 6 was playing with these terminals that had acoustic couplings for the phone to press into on the back. So I would dial the phone number for the Californian computer, wait to hear the BREEEEEE answering sound and then press the phone handset (with the big circular ear and mouthpiece) into the connections on the back of the terminal. Then the paper roll would scroll as the machine typed "HELLO" and "LOGIN:". I would type in my username and hit return. The machine would then type "PASSWORD:" and I would type in my password and hit return. It was exactly like using a typewriter. Every time the machine said something, it would type it out on the paper. Any time I said something back, I would type it out on the paper and it would go through that phoneline to the Californian machine. This is how the original internet worked.

So even at that early age I was online, playing adventure (XYZZY!), talking to the Eliza doctor program, playing the ancient Star Trek game with commands like SRS and LRS. There was a very simple version of BASIC on the machine and I would program complex adventure games where you moved from room to room, picking up items and using them in other areas.

Sometimes I would need a backup made of my game, so I would issue commands to the "operator" who I thought was another program. I would say things like "backup adventure.bas" or "restore adventure.bas". I still remember clearly the day that my stepfather told me the operator was a REAL HUMAN BEING that I was sending messages to. I was thrilled!! I was of course very young and instantly fell in love with this guy. He was from the Philipines and was very sweet, he answered all of my messages and wrote back.

A big day in my life was when a "real screen" terminal version came out. You still were only typing messages to and from a remote computer - but now you could see your letters on a screen, instead of using up thousands and thousands of rolls of thermal paper. It was amazing :)

Soon the most rudimentary PCs came onto the market. I had the flat-keyboard model that you connected to your TV set and saved programs onto a cassette tape with. Then we moved up to the Commodore 64 with a REAL keyboard. What a treat! I quickly became hooked on BBSs - bulletin board systems where you would literally call someone else's computer up with your phone and leave notes on it. The years rolled on. In sophmore year of high school, I met my first boyfriend on a BBS - he lived an hour away. He was Riff Raff (from Rocky Horror) and I was Nyssa (the scientist from Dr. Who). We dated for a full year. Most nights I would sneak out of bed when everyone was asleep and go down to my computer, and stay online all night long.

I went to WPI at age 17 which meant I was now out of the house and therefore was on the internet a full 24 hours a day :). There were more and more computers to connect to, more worlds to explore. Most of us students were busy designing fun games to play on these computers, either by email or by connecting in to a particular machine. We would all share the addresses or phone numbers of fun machines to connect to. I dropped out at age 18 and a month to get married, and went right to work.

My love for computers paid off - I immediately found a job at a biotech company, working of course with computers. Biotechs were the first group of companies to connect to each other in a corporate sense, to share their information. I was responsible for the FTP and net connections used to move DNA sequencing data around. Remember those 300 baud modems? :) In my off hours, I put my personal notes on the servers and let others share them via FTP. As soon as I was of an age to drink wine, all of my wine notes were promptly stored online. I loved exploring the different flavors found in wines, and having tastings with friends. So truly, I was one of the first people to use online computer systems to share and transmit wine information :)

Now comes the part of the "web" that most modern users understand. There was always a limited audience when internet use was done by typing commands like "FTP" and "TELNET" and "LOGON". Back in 1990, a group of designers made a simple graphical browser and called it "WorldWideWeb", to be able to show words and images as long as you knew the address of the file to show. I thought this was great :) As browsers became more popular and the internet became graphical, I enjoyed designing webpages for the tiny audience of people who knew how to use them. Companies like CompuServe and GEnie proliferated, letting people have a graphic interface to small closed-off groups of people. But the graphic internet and the CompuServes were quite isolated from each other. You couldn't even send email in and out.

Slowly, over time, more and more people migrated off of the proprietary systems and joined the world of the "web" - i.e. an open group of machines known to each other only by address. This required knowing addresses to go to - but search engines began to develop to help people figure out addresses to visit. Many years later, in 1998, "The Mining Company" decided it would put together a site of experts to help use this web world to present content and sell advertising. They found my wine site, said it was the best they'd seen on the web, and asked me to join them. I agreed! Soon they changed their name from TMC to About.

From 1998 to 2004, I worked as the Wine Guide at About - providing weekly articles, newsletters, reviews and information to my readers. I also kept up my other websites, eventually bringing all of the content together on LisaShea.com. My entire day pretty much revolved around working on websites and developing database applications. I quit my "real job" to focus on my web work, but kept About as my sole "outside income" because I loved my visitors there so much. However, I finally parted ways with About in October 2004. If you are really curious why, I wrote a summary.

I am very happy to be back to running my own wine website again, here at WineIntro.com, where I can help educate and assist wine drinkers around the world in the joys of wine. I also keep up many other websites on other topics! My addiction to connecting to people via computer, developed when I was a tiny tyke, is still fully in force now that I'm older :)

-- Lisa Shea

Contact Lisa Shea

All content on the WineIntro website is personally written by author and wine enthusiast Lisa Shea. WineIntro explores the delicious variety and beautiful history which makes up our world of wine! Lisa loves supporting local wineries and encouraging people to drink whatever they like. We all have different taste buds, and that makes our world wonderful. Always drink responsibly.