Why TFrog?

The truth will out.

Purple TreefrogWhen I was in junior/senior high school (think 1960s, early 70s), I would draw a cartoon character that was a frog. Purple. A treefrog, actually. Purple treefrog. PT. The cartoons were of a rather …uh… baudy nature, as befits a teenage male of the time.

The PT cartoons were also populated by smaller characters called PIPs. Where PT was meek, mild, and unfailingly polite, the PIPs would say what really needed to be said.

I must have had a thing for treefrogs, because I started to collect all things treefrog. And it must have been a healthy collection by 1978, because all of Jean’s friends and family got her a kitchen ensemble that was all of a frog motif for her pre-wedding celebration. A frog creamer. A frog clock. Frog salt and pepper shakers, etc. More of a cartoon frog motif. But green frogs, not treefrogs, but still frogs.

When my kids were very young, I would give Jean a break by taking them to a mall and then going on a Frog Hunt. As we wandered through the stores, if they saw anything that looked like a frog, they were to sing out. Extra points for TREEfrogs. My collection grew.

In 1993 I bought a new Ford Mustang LX 5.0 hatchback, blacker than black. Within a year, that Mustang would sport the vanity plate TFROG. I even had a motorcycle with the plate 3FROG (although what No. 2 was, I have no idea).

A family member once asked what the license plate TFROG meant, and an unnamed nephew chimed in, “Because he couldn’t afford a TBird.” Silly boy. One, I’m a Mustang guy, and the TBird of the day was an overweight slugmobile. And two, there is no two.

Somebody once pulled up alongside me at a red light and yelled over, “What does TFROG mean?” I thought, sure, we could sit here for a few minutes while the light turned green and folks behind us started honking while I laid out my life story. But in the end I just said, “Got me. Guess it was the next license plate sent out of Harrisburg.”

I was out tooling around in my 1993 Mustang GT convertible (CFROG, of course). At a light, old guy behind me got out of his car and walked up to my door. “Are you a CFROG,” he asked? “Why, yes. Yes I am,” says I. Uh, no. He meant “seafrog,” as in scuba diving. Not even close.

(Years later, while working in Bryn Mawr, a new hire pulled into the parking lot in a yellow Mustang coupe. On the back was the license plate FROG. That’s the one I first wanted, but it was taken. What are the odds that I’d meet up with the taker?)

– – – BREAK – – –

When we first had computers, the web as we know it did not yet exist. Much like computers still shown in Hollywood movies, our screens had nothing but text. As for the Internet, there were three basic components:
email (goes back to the early 70s)
FTP (the ability to transfer files from one computer to another)
and usenet – public discussion groups for every topic (from about 100 in 1983 to over 100,000 eventually)

That was about it.

To get to the internet, most of us needed an “internet service provider” (ISP). Early on, I tried out CompuServe and Prodigy (they both sucked). Our slow modems would dial a phone number, then squeal and squawk as it tried to connect to a server on the other end. If successful, we would log on and check our mail and read and post to discussion groups. That was about it.

1989 – Tim Berners-Lee invents the “world wide web.”
1990 – Tim Berners-Lee invents the first browser.
1992 – Microsoft releases Windows 3.1 (AMAZING – I swear it was still using Netscape Navigator)
1993 – dwight buys a new 1993 Ford Mustang LX 5.0 hatchback, blacker-than-black
By 1995, that Mustang had the vanity license plate TFROG on the back.

After a frustrating period with Prodigy and Compuserve, I eventually decided to try AOL. In 1995, AOL already had 3,000,000 members and the world wide web was exploding. I asked for the username “tfrog” and was amazed when AOL said it was taken and suggested “tfrog54”. (Wait… there were already another 53 tfrogs out there?!?) Well that wouldn’t do any good, so I picked “tfrog93” (to honor my 1993 Ford TFROG, of course), and an internet legend was born.

AOL sure didn’t make it easy, but eventually I found where they were hiding the newsgroups (“usenet” – see above). Two discussion groups were especially important to me:
alt.sports.football.pro.philadelphia-eagles, and
rec.autos.makers.ford.mustang (or RAMFM)

Even now, 15 years after leaving AOL, tfrog93@aol.com is still all over the internet. Go ahead, Google it. I’ll wait… Some of the faceless strangers in that group of miscreants became actual friends to me. We shared a great deal of automotive info and opinion, but there was also a desire to “protect” the newsgroup from interlopers. Usually, some fool Honda driver would stop by to tell us all how he smoked some Mustang GT. “Was it parked?” There would be a lot of back and forth insults and put-downs leading up to Flame Wars (a more demanding version of The Dozens or Yo’ Momma). Ah, good times. But I digress…

An AOL member page was the first “website” for TFrog93. This would later move to Homestead and become more of an actual multi-page website. A brief flirtation with Google Pages went nowhere. Then I bought the domain www.tfrog93.com (yes, still mine; tfrog.com was taken at the time), paid a host, and put up my first real designed-by-me site. The Internet Archive (the Wayback Machine) has a snapshot of the site from 2004, nothing earlier. And it sure wasn’t much in 2004.

The last major redesign of the website was in 2007, featuring a host of topics and interests. No cohesive theme, mostly about the Mustangs, the Eagles, and then whatever else I had pictures of. My interest in photography hadn’t yet fully “developed,” but, as a website, the website was out of control.

Meanwhile…

www.tfrog.com was owned by Treefrog Consultants. I kept checking on it, as the domain was due for renewal within the next year or so, and come renewal time I found that the owner had NOT renewed it. The domain became publicly available, and I jumped on it! It cost a little more than the usual domain registration, but it was exactly what I wanted and now it’s mine. I OWN A 5-LETTER DOT COM DOMAIN. So I had www.tfrog93.com point to www.tfrog.com, and I continued to grow my site.

Eventually, my music and my photography took over tfrog.com and the long-gone Mustangs are fading. But if you want to know, “Why TFrog?,” now you know.

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