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It's funny how time flies.  I recall being an early member of the OGR Forum, but the details are pretty hazy.  I have some questions for the moderators and early members.

  1. When (date) was the OGR forum launched?
  2. What was the initial hardware / software used?
  3. Any statistics on the forum's size or growth over the first year would be of interest.
  4. When was the first OGR Forum meeting in the York Grandstand?  (I recall the forum membership being small enough for each of us to introduce ourselves.)

Thanks!

George

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  1. When (date) was the OGR forum launched?
    I don't have an exact date, but I think it was some time around 2000.

  2. What was the initial hardware / software used?
    Initially the forum ran on a small Cobalt RAQ server. The software I used was something called PHP BB, a PHP based Bulletin Board app. It is still available today.

  3. Any statistics on the forum's size or growth over the first year would be of interest.
    I can't specific cite member growth numbers, but I can tell you that the little Cobalt RAQ server was overwhelmed within the first year. After a few months of operation I began to notice that the performance of the forum was slowing down. I logged into the admin section of the server to look at some of the performance numbers. The CPU (the Central Processing Unit) was running at 100% almost all the time, and the server was being hit with forum page requests every few seconds!

    At the time, PHP BB offered hosting services on their servers. So we paid the extra money to move the forum to their servers, which solved the performance problems.

  4. When was the first OGR Forum meeting in the York Grandstand?  (I recall the forum membership being small enough for each of us to introduce ourselves.)
    This one I can't answer. Someone who was there may be able to nail down this one.

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Last edited by Rich Melvin

I was one of the original Forum members. My recollection was joining in August of 2000. I honestly don't remember my original Forum "handle", but using a clever pseudonym was all the rage in those days.

I seem to recall that the Forum also displayed a member number by your name  which corresponded to the order in which you joined.

One of the pivotal events took place in 2005 when there was a server change and everyone had to re-register. Sadly we all lost the all important tag line..."member since  (insert joining month) 2000, thus designating an original or charter member. It was important to many of us. A real source of pride and bragging rights but I guess it couldn't be fixed.

We have many of the original folks still here. I really miss the "elders" that have passed through the veil. I'm sure I'll have my memory jogged by the other's reminisces and look forward to seeing those posts.

This is an enjoyable and useful thread. @G3750 thank you for starting it

John

Last edited by John Meyncke

...One of the pivotal events took place in 2005 when there was a server change and everyone had to re-register...We have many of the original folks still here. I really miss the "elders" that have passed through the veil. I'm sure I'll have my memory jogged by the other's reminisces and look forward to seeing those posts.

We have had to change servers and platforms several times during the evolution of this forum. As we added members, we steadily outgrew the servers and the platforms we were using.

The move in 2005 was when we moved away from the PHP BB software and went to the Eve platform. We had outgrown the capabilities of PHP BB app, and the forum performance was suffering for it. Eve offered much more robust servers and more features. Because the PHP BB app was so different from Eve, there was no way to migrate members and posts from PHP BB over to Eve. Believe me, I tried, but it just wasn't possible. We successfully used Eve for many years before we outgrew it's capabilities too!

After several  years with Eve, the same company that built and hosted Eve (Social Strata) came out with a more robust app that they called Hoopla. Because it was within the same company, we were able to migrate all  forum members and all the Eve threads into Hoopla. Hoopla added features we didn't have in Eve (embedded video clips, for example). Hoopla then became Crowdstack, and that's what we are using today.

We have grown from that little Cobalt RAQ server that served a couple of thousand pages per month, to having our own, high-powered, dedicated server at a major data center in Seattle that served almost 10 million pages last month! During the fall and winter months, we regularly see over 12 million page views per month here. The recent maintenance window we had back on June 24 was to move us to an even bigger server, with more disc space and RAM.

I, too, miss many of the "elders" as Bob Coniglio named our early members. Bob was a key figure in the early development of the OGR Forum. For several years when we were on Eve, Bob posted new threads here on a daily basis, and they were good threads, from a very fertile mind. Bob used to email me every once in a while in recent years, however I haven't heard from Bob for many months now.

Good thread!

Last edited by Rich Melvin

I think that this forum started late in the spring of 2000.  I started lurking early on and finally registered in August,2000.

The forum was really free wheeling back then.  There some real characters that participated and sometimes discussions sort of took a turn!  Ha,ha.  But in the end every thing worked out.  There was a whole lot of info coming into the hobby then  and the OGR Forum was,as now,the best place to get it.

Unfortunately some of the most interesting members have been long gone.

Norm

Last edited by Norm

I joined on October 31,2000. Whatever happened to Mrs. Eileen Cozzi? I really enjoyed her column and even got her autograph one time. I hope I got the name correct.

I was at York for the first meeting but I lost track of time and missed the meeting which is why I am not in the picture. I remember merging Myron Biggar and Barbara. They were such nice people. I hope they are doing well.

This image is from the "Eve" platform I mentioned above. Note that five of the posts on this front page were authored by Bob Coniglio.

@Norm posted:

...The forum was really free wheeling back then.  There some real characters that participated and sometimes discussions sort of took a turn...

Yes, there was a lot of trouble here at first. The old AOL boards that were popular back then were essentially un-moderated. Political discussions, personal attacks, threats, and name calling were commonplace there. Many who registered here in the early days thought they could bring that same kind of uncivilized behavior here. When we deleted posts and banned members because they refused to follow our rules and behave in a polite manner, it generated a lot of turmoil for a while.

Thankfully those days have passed. We now have a truly wonderful group of people here who are genuinely interested in talking about O Gauge trains and helping people.

Last edited by Rich Melvin

Fact is, half the stuff that was posted back in the day about elephants and such would be deleted today.  Back then with a smaller group, and then only a few that would stray so far off topic, it wasn't bad for the occasional elephant story.  Now with so many members, even if a small percentage would talk about elephants we'd have a herd.

BobC was famous for his "Trains for Kids" program.  I seem to remember that I turned in 3 kids and not once got a train.

OGR back in 2009 was at the Super Bowl.  Only 4 forum sponsors at the time.  I might even have one from 2002 at home.  Will have to check.  Back when I used to travel, OGR's forum was a welcome distraction from being away from home.

Desk

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Last edited by MartyE

I started following the forum sometime in 2001.  I remember some heated discussions and decided not to join partially because of that.  I finally joined in early 2003 because I had a question about TMCC .  The one thing I remember about that topic was all the replies saying how they hated TMCC, even though some had never even seen it.  Basically, I got the feeling if you weren’t conventional go away.

I did get a good answer to my question, which helped me get started in command control.  Wish I could remember who posted it.

...It looks like all of the subjects need to go through a spring cleaning.  Many posts are long out of date and if possible should be deleted.  This isn't meant to be negative but why keep so much stuff posted when it's no longer needed?

We used to prune (delete) inactive threads from the forum after a certain time. It was an automated process. However, in the process of deleting these old threads and the "SOLD" threads in the For Sale forum, we made a terrible error. There was a long-running thread about the Natty Boh Reefer that was very interesting. The OP was Paul Strickland (VaGolfer1950) and he had put a lot of effort into starting and maintaining the thread. This popular, long-running thread got deleted! The word "sold" had been added to the title, and the automated process of deleting the "SOLD" threads on the For Sale forum got this one! Paul has never forgiven me and I don't blame him. He has not posted here since December of 2019.

We don't have to pay extra for disc space because its very cheap. You can buy a 4 Terabyte drive at retail now for about $100. Just a few years ago that kind of disc space would have cost thousands of dollars. So, we no longer delete old threads, however we do close them after six months with no activity.

If you ever run across an old thread that you would like to see re-opened, report the thread to the moderators and ask that it be re-opened.

I was member number 72 here in the Fall of 2000 with my original handle, Conrail4Me. I was sixteen at the time, I turn 37 in September. I have spent over half my life on this forum.

The early days were indeed different. There were times when 100 replies to a thread were a big deal and topics could stay on the front page for weeks, not hours. There were topics such as the original Coffee Pot / Caboose thread, Hoenwald, and a myriad of other fun and whimsical topics which usually don't pop up these days or would not fit well with the current forum structure.  Something that I have always felt contributed to the growth of the forum was the speed at which the industry was moving in the early 2000s. At that time, the print magazines were still the only real source of hard news and it could take months for something to make it into print. This forum I believe contributed to speeding up the "news cycle" in the industry. I remember threads about the early DCS development and delivery, Lionel's dive into the deep end of the scale model pool (The Challenger and Acela come to mind), and much more.

I've spent countless hours here, and I'm grateful for ALL that OGR has done and continues to do to keep this forum alive and relevant. My sincere thanks to @Rich Melvin who has busted his tail more than a few times putting up with software issues, unruly forum members, and the great Lashup debate. In all seriousness, Rich has done A LOT to make the mechanics of this place function and he along with the rest of the OGR team deserve kudos.

Last edited by Notch 6

The AOL boards were the Wild West, with a lot of know-it-alls, who were decidedly lacking in factual knowledge, but making up for it in sheer bluster. When the Forum started, a lot of AOLers migrated, but didn’t realize there was a Sheriff, who was big on law and order. Oops! See ya!

Quick AOL story - one of the regulars was a rodeo cowboy, who was drinking, and playing with his trains, the night before he was flying to compete on the rodeo circuit. He drank enough to fall asleep, and crawled off to bed. Flew out the next morning, and when he returned home 2 WEEKS later, he found his trains still running!

Last edited by Mark V. Spadaro

I started viewing the forums around 2005 or so, finally joining in 2008. The early days were a bit crazy to the point where I hesitated entering some conversations for fear of some snarky remarks.

Nice to see that 99% of today's conversations remain civilized!

Even now, I still learn something new everyday - thanks!

As I note in my Profile, I originally joined the Forum in 2001 and was around for 4-5 years but eventually went on "a sabbatical" for a few years.  I've been back full-time with no interruption since 2011.

I still recall well the early days and two categories of posts really stick in my mind. The first was what I would call the "TMCC versus DCS wars" as DCS was in testing then and would be released soon. The animus was real and got quite heated. The second topic was the York Meet. That, as we know, is still discussed in detail today.

Final verdict: The OGR Forum is THE place to be online for all things trains!

Last edited by johnstrains

The AOL boards were the Wild West, with a lot of know-it-alls, who were decidedly lacking in factual knowledge, but making up for it in sheer bluster. When the Forum started, a lot of AOLers migrated, but didn’t realize there was a Sheriff, who was big on law and order. Oops! See ya!

I think I came in from the TRainNet forum on CompuServe.  It was definitely tame there.  Gary Moreau even came on there occasionally and chatted.  I believe there are still a few of us here on OGR.  We used to do a "meet at the fry stand" at York.

I have to echo Derek's praise of the staff of OGR for keeping this the place to be. Also the membership. Nowhere is there a bigger knowledge base and a group of folks that are willing to help. 

Last edited by MartyE

Having lurked and then joining almost since the beginning, I can definitely say that I have a true appreciation for this forum's moderation.  It really was dicey at the beginning, with a number of former AOL members that could not play well in the sandbox.  The forum moderators took control and ensured that this place remains the best forum to talk about trains and train related issues.

....there's Allan in the 2nd row with a big smile....maybe he can pinpoint it.....

Peter

Ah, the good old days! I remember it well! It was, indeed, the Fall 2000 York Meet. . . seven years before I joined the magazine as Editor-in-Chief. I was among the very early forum members because I had already been very active with the original AOL forums that pretty much were THE place to be in the early days of social media , but do not recall the exact year or date.

Last edited by Allan Miller

George......here's a picture of the 1st Forum meeting.....Fall 2000? I'm in the back with my son, Charles.....he was born in August 92....8 years old looks about right.....

....there's Allan in the 2nd row with a big smile....maybe he can pinpoint it.....

York2000

Peter

Yup, I'm in there. Back row on the left with the baseball cap. I'm not certain I lurked for any length of time before joining up, as my Y2K join date, and my appearance above, will attest. I may have jumped aboard as soon as it opened .

Pretty certain everything in my collection then is still with me now.

---PCJ

@Rich Melvin posted:

We don't have to pay extra for disc space because its very cheap. You can buy a 4 Terabyte drive at retail now for about $100. Just a few years ago that kind of disc space would have cost thousands of dollars. So, we no longer delete old threads, however we do close them after six months with no activity.

Definitely grateful for this. A fair number of old "What did you get at York?" threads have allowed me to pin down purchase dates for quite a few of the pieces in my collection I'm adding to my electronic inventory.

I wonder if any of the PhPBB forum posts exist in the Internet Archive?

---PCJ

I have been a Forum member since 2005, looking at some of the joined dates I feel like a rookie. The best Tread I remember was the Kline engine blowout thread when a company called Sun Manufacturing got a hold of Kline’s remaining K4 and Berkshire engines and was blowing them out $350 for a CC K4 and $450 for a CC Berkshire. The tread was like going to a prize fight went on for over 20 pages. I bought a #1361 K4, still have it, had it fixed once but runs great to today but now stays in a display case as I have two Legacy K4s to run now.

JohnB

@Rich Melvin posted:

Love it Marty!

I never worked an event as big as a Super Bowl when I worked for an ABC affiliate, but those surroundings do look a bit familiar. Well...at least the patch panel and the monitor do. There were no computers back in my days doing remotes. 

Lol. Well this should really throw you a curve.  Our new Audio/Video router. IP gateways to SDI and a Arista 7508R network switch. This ain’t your fathers router. Lol. Sorry to get off subject.

IP to/from SDI Gateways w/ audio processing and Multiviewer.

80FB802D-F3D9-4D11-95D3-0FAF0C8293AA

7508 Switch.  All fiber with 40/100Gbe ports

D0FEA58B-7BFB-4C22-A008-CEA15B5BDA15

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Last edited by MartyE

Interesting thread.

This forum does have a very colorful history. I agree that it has evolved into a forum populated by a great group of enthusiasts that get along great, as well as we all are very accommodating to the various persuasions within the hobby.

Don't know if it's accurate, but the join date at my profile page says November 25, 2000. I seem to recall my reason for joining was because at the time was I was exploring the possibility of doing 3-rail in a small room.  That didn't prove to be my long-term direction, but I've stuck around because this is an interesting place with lots of fine folk! (OH, and I DO still have some 3-rail!)

Andre

@PRR1950 posted:

And just how did a forum post about forum history change to a subject about traction tire replacement substitutes?

Chuck

The traction tire thread was from 2003 and contains posts from people who were part of the early forum but do not post here anymore.  I for one enjoyed seeing those names again.  The subject matter has nothing to do with it.

Bob Bartizek (joined the Forum in September, 2000)

@MartyE posted:

Oh no not the elders.   Some folks thought too highly of themselves and coined the term “Forum Elders”.  I pretty much laugh every time I hear that now.

LOL, as a newer member (2006) I remember some of these threads!

I have taken a couple of breaks from the forum over the years, but do honestly appreciate Rich hosting this place for all of us to get together.

I don't have any experience on the IT side or hosting, but I do remember my first "real" computer, a Zenith 'laptop', that I bought in 1987(?) for $1800 at a student discount while in grad school.  I remember not being concerned about the memory, because it had 20 Mb, and who could ever need more than that!

Jim

@jd-train posted:

...I have taken a couple of breaks from the forum over the years, but do honestly appreciate Rich hosting this place for all of us to get together...

I appreciate the kudos, but I don't host this forum. It's all of the OGR Staff, and especially CEO Alan Arnold, who make this forum work.

I'm not officially a member of the OGR Staff these days. I retired from OGR back in September of 2018. I still do some IT and admin work for the company, but I'm not on the payroll or the staff.

Thanks for the memories.  After several months of following the forum, we finally joined 25th October, 2001.  One of our best memories was watching the landmark lawsuit play out in the courts of when the mouse (MTH Electric Trains) took on the Lion and won.  There were many threads at the time that made for good reading.  Whatever become of Clyde Coil, Tony Lash and Rocky Mountaineer?  I miss their posts.

@Rich Melvin posted:

I appreciate the kudos, but I don't host this forum. It's all of the OGR Staff, and especially CEO Alan Arnold, who make this forum work.

I'm not officially a member of the OGR Staff these days. I retired from OGR back in September of 2018. I still do some IT and admin work for the company, but I'm not on the payroll or the staff.

OK!  Thanks Rich for getting the forum started and thanks to Alan and the OGR Staff for keeping this wonderful place to discuss all aspects of real and model trains.  The forum is the first that I check in the morning and the last that I check at night.  This forum is a true blessing for all of us with a passion for both real and model trains.   NH Joe

OK!  Thanks Rich for getting the forum started and thanks to Alan and the OGR Staff for keeping this wonderful place to discuss all aspects of real and model trains.  The forum is the first that I check in the morning and the last that I check at night.  This forum is a true blessing for all of us with a passion for both real and model trains.   NH Joe

Ditto! Now back to soccer (Italy vs Brits in Eurocup final)….

Last edited by Strap Hanger

Whatever become of Clyde Coil, Tony Lash and. . . .

Tony Lash sold his business, but I'm not sure what became of his layout. He does show up at York on a fairly regular basis. I really like that big guy! His heart is as big as his body!

As for Clyde Coil: Funny you ask! I was planning to write about Clyde in the most recent issue of the magazine (Editor's Corner), but was provided a lot of great info from former Clyde Coil associates and decided to hold my column until the Oct. or Dec. issue. Folks new to the hobby wouldn't know who the heck we're referring to, but Clyde was a very popular and controversial figure back in the early 90s.

Tony Lash sold his business, but I'm not sure what became of his layout. He does show up at York on a fairly regular basis. I really like that big guy! His heart is as big as his body!

Amen!

Many years ago when I was shooting the OGR video of Tony's layout, he gave me a tour of his extensive MTH collection.  His "stash" was distributed among several offices within his office building. He owned at least two of every locomotive MTH had ever produced.

As we walked through his office, we came to a room filled with several hundred entry-level train sets. I said, "Tony, you collect train sets, too?" Tony's reply was a perfect embodiment of his soul.  He said, "Naw, Rich. I don't collect 'em. Those are for the kids at Christmas. I give 'em away."

Yeah...a great big heart.

Tony is one of the nicest men you'll meet in this hobby.  While he was pretty good at chumming the waters during the lawsuit era with "Pay Da Money", in reality he came across in person someone who loved the toy train hobby no matter who made 'em.

Unfortunately yes a lot of folks are gone either through death, leaving on their own, or being shown the door.  The good news is those that left on their own or otherwise are around.  I usually see them at York or travels on other forums.  Contrary to some folks beliefs, you can belong and participate on other forums.

@MartyE posted:

Unfortunately yes a lot of folks are gone either through death, leaving on their own, or being shown the door.  The good news is those that left on their own or otherwise are around.  I usually see them at York or travels on other forums.  Contrary to some folks beliefs, you can belong and participate on other forums.

All true, Marty.  From my perspective, the vast majority of the best forum contributors are no longer here due to death, illness, or changing hobby interests.  I think the OGR forum should be commended for providing us an "in memoriam" section to remember those great contributors that have passed away (https://ogrforum.ogaugerr.com/forum/in-memoriam). As for those that were "shown the door", fortunately, posters that have wigged out are a very small subset of the more substantive participants that are no longer here.

@Bob posted:

Yeah, it's too bad Hans Zimmer isn't here anymore.

What about Vox.  I've saved some of those threads.  He was a hoot but the bane of the moderators at times.

Some of the OGR offerings were cool too.  I have an OGR tank car.  I'd like to see them maybe resurrect some of these type items.  With the way MTH and Lionel to a lesser degree have been pushing custom runs seems natural for OGR to make a 20th Anniversary of the forum car.

@MartyE posted:

When a forum loses anyone no matter the circumstances its sad.  Even those that left involuntarily provided some good content and perspective but OGR has it's TOS in place for a reason.  It's up to each individual to follow them or unfortunately leave.  The hobby is too small not to see them around.

These things happen Marty. Its just a fact of forum life. I've participated in many forums in this hobby and others and you see the same pattern - sometimes people wig out, sometimes discussions get heated, sometimes people get overly sensitive. some people refuse to play well in the sandbox, some want to dominate, some want only their perspective to be heard, some only think that they are allowed an opinion or that their view is the only acceptable one, etc. Its human nature and yeah it can be sad, but sometimes you can also have a little addition by subtraction. In fact, I've seen some lightly moderated forums descend into chaos and become useless because of that  lack of moderation.   As for this forum, whats great is that from my perspective, its been a very small subset of substantive posters that have been "shown the door". That for me is always the saddest, but often necessary, occurrence.  If someone doesn't like the TOS or feels its too burdensome, there are plenty of other places to chat. To each his own and I hope everyone finds that special place to gather and enjoy this hobby to its fullest. I don't find it  "unfortunate" if people make that decision,  but view it as just a fact of forum life. For me, I am very pleased being here for all these years along with you (I still remember your dog!) and appreciate such a well run and friendly forum with a great group of hobbyists.  It has truly helped me to better enjoy the hobby.  Moreover, I get a kick out of all the new, productive posters that have joined in the last few years. It really has grown tremendously from when we first joined. I really like all the new and varied content from these newer folks as well as the old saws like you! The sheer magnitude of the content and daily discussions keep this the center of my train discussion universe and I'm truly thankful for it.

@MartyE posted:

What about Vox.  I've saved some of those threads.  He was a hoot but the bane of the moderators at times.

Some of the OGR offerings were cool too.  I have an OGR tank car.  I'd like to see them maybe resurrect some of these type items.  With the way MTH and Lionel to a lesser degree have been pushing custom runs seems natural for OGR to make a 20th Anniversary of the forum car.

Well here is a VOX thread.  LOL!

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Long time lurker here, occasional poster. Since 

Rick

Last edited by Rick

OK!  Thanks Rich for getting the forum started and thanks to Alan and the OGR Staff for keeping this wonderful place to discuss all aspects of real and model trains.  The forum is the first that I check in the morning and the last that I check at night.  This forum is a true blessing for all of us with a passion for both real and model trains.   NH Joe

If my memory is correct I believe the forum was started while Myron Biggar owned the magazine but it was a short time after that he sold everything to Rich and the current owners. I remember my first forum meeting at York when Myron and Barbara gave me a name tag. I also have to thank Rich and all the current moderators for making this a great place to talk trains. There were times as the forum grew that I felt the moderation was a little heavy but over recent years I feel they found a sweet spot where it is just right.

It was a real hoot to see some of those old names on those saved threads. I don't remember this VOX fella. I guess I missed his threads. He was certainly a character.

Found another Old Forum View  where they made a forum wide announcement that populated all the sections.  I happened to reply and was "King of the Forum" for about 30 seconds.   A few less sections even back in 2011.   Only 16 members on line.  Wow have we grown!

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Last edited by MartyE
@Hudson J1e posted:

If my memory is correct I believe the forum was started while Myron Biggar owned the magazine but it was a short time after that he sold everything to Rich and the current owners...

This forum started some time in 2000, when the magazine was indeed owned by Myron Biggar. I had been doing the OGR web site for some time and had encouraged Myron to start an online forum.

We closed the deal to purchase the magazine from Myron in August 2002. The original partners in OGR were:

  • Rich Melvin
  • Ed Boyle
  • Jim Barrett (deceased)
  • Fred Dole (deceased)

The first issue of the magazine under our ownership was Run 189, the October 2002 issue.

Time passes quickly when you're having fun...

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@rplst8 posted:

From humble beginnings…

D18151C4-B134-4DC1-8DEE-F88D47128ED3

Some of the user names on the screenshot take me back to a time when I first got in to O gauge trains!

I made the OGR forum meet at York in 2005, my one and only TCA experience. I was a DCS beta tester and flew in to Baltimore, met up with Barry Broskowitz there and we split a rental for that trip.

Good times!

Iirc, the forum members also met at a restaurant one evening.

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