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History of TheSamba.com

Detailed Site History

The first incarnation of TheSamba.com, called "The Type II and Type III Experience", was born on April 7th, 1997 because Everett couldn't find any VW sites on the Internet that continuously updated their content. Originally conceived to display pictures of his own cars and from the many California VW shows he had attended over the years, Everett added the literature page about a week later. By the end of April, the site included a Facts page, What's New, photo categories, and the "Transporter Factoids".

In the months that followed, Everett enhanced the site by adding his favorite links and a classifieds page for "parts he had lying around". The site grew rapidly because there was so much technical data, literature, and photos to be added. A few people also began contributing their own photos and information to the site .

On July 9, 1997, Everett changed the name of the site to "VW Planet". Some of the new features added in 1997 included a "free services" page, a Guestbook, and the Feedback page. Everett next added a lot of Type 3 technical info and photos, the "Art" page and the search function. By the end of 1997, he had automated the Classifieds and included a search function. By now, the site had a relatively large following because of the free Classifieds, wealth of photos, and technical information.

Everett continued to improve the site throughout 1998 by adding sections for Shows, Extras and the FAQ. May 1998 saw the addition of a new Classifieds engine, making placing ads much faster. With a new name, a tribute to his beloved dog, TheSamba.com came into its own on September 23, 1998.

Throughout 1999, Everett added content and improved the site. In February, he modified the Classifieds to display 25 ads per page, making loading faster. In July, he had to split the Photo ads into categories - Type 1, Type 2, etc... 1999 also saw the addition of the Postcards page, and several internal changes to speed up performance and further automate the site.

In 2000, the Literature section was re-organized by year, the Forums were introduced in March followed shortly by the Gallery in April. In July, Everett set his current email address. In August, he added a general site search and the ability to search the Classifieds by location. In November, TheSamba.com began accepting banner ads for VW-related advertisers.

TheSamba.com had a growing visitor base by 2001, with new content added daily. By September, Everett had to add pagination to the Classifieds photo ad summary listings, and new features including Polls, Chat, and the Newsletter were created.  He continued to make various upgrades to the Classifieds and Gallery throughout 2001 and 2002.

Fall of 2002 brought huge changes to TheSamba.com, Everett re-formatted to entire site, removing frames and making navigation more intuitive. The first Samba Shirts and Stickers became available featuring the new TS logo.  He also added new sections for Clubs and the Dictionary. September saw the introduction of the alerts feature in the Classifieds. In December he allowed sellers to Feature their ads on the Home Page to increase visibility. Also in 2002, the site web servers were upgraded to handle the increased bandwidth needs.

The site improved almost daily during the end of 2002 and early 2003. In February, the Clubs page was fully automated, a new Business directory was added in March, and that same month, Everett added the Featured Ads at the top of the categories in Classifieds. TheSamba.com was reviewed in the February, 2003 issue of VolksWorld Magazine and received the top rating of 5. That same month, Hot VWs mentioned the site as the place to visit for VW Classifieds on the Internet.

Everett compacted the Classifieds layout in April 2003, to more easily accommodate the over 60 new ads per day.  Everett was interviewed for the March 2003 issue of NEATO's Old Bus Review newsletter about TheSamba.com's impact on the VW scene.

Major updates followed with a new version of the site FAQ and a new full-screen Home Page layout in June. Everett added a new Chat in July, 2003, and a faster Gallery search and new Forums format in August. There were also major contributions to the Dictionary, main page Facts, and Literature Archives. November 2003 was a dynamic month for the Samba. Everett added a zip code search function to the Classifieds, in response to several requests from site visitors. The first official limited edition Samba Poster (in a planned series) arrived November 11, 2003, and sold out in 8 days.

December saw the introduction of new Samba Stuff: two limited edition color posters went on sale and Everett created a new Samba Shirt featuring the Transporter line. Everett also made available the new version of the Dictionary with hundreds of terms, cross-referenced for ease of use. A large amount of Literature was also added to the site.

In January 2004, Everett made some changes to the Classifieds section to increase speed, and in February, TheSamba.com was moved to it's current server. In March, Everett added the "Map-it" function in the Classifieds and upgraded the Gallery to a new format to increase speed. We increased the Samba Shirt selection to include pocket T's, long sleeved, and a wider range of sizes and colors. In April 2004 we simplified the Home Page and Everett released the new Classifieds. Although almost identical in appearance, the speed was dramatically improved. Now, users must be logged in to place Classified ads or upload Gallery photos. Everett also added a Canadian Province search and allowed for multiple State/Province searches. TheSamba.com was awarded Best Air-cooled VW Website in the 2003 VW Trends Awards; the article appears in the June 2004 issue.

In the Summer of 2004, Everett added the Classified Bold text upgrade, hid advertiser emails to increase security, and added Gallery and Ad links from Forum posts. In September, he upgraded the server and increased the memory and bandwidth to accommodate the continual site growth. Throughout the Fall, Everett made several changes to the Classifieds, adding categories, ad detail options, and making cosmetic improvements.

As always, Everett continued to ad interesting items to the archives, January 2005 was a particularly big month for new content. In July, he added a "deactivate" function to the Manage screen and updated the header tab look.  December was busy in terms of added Control Panel functions, including Watch Topic, Bookmark List, Buddy List, Ignore User, and Watch List/"Watch this Ad" capabilities. The new Premium Membership plan was unveiled, allowing members to donate regularly in exchange for perks in the Forums and Classifieds sections.

After another server upgrade in January 2006, the site hit a new high of most users ever online (which was subsequently surpassed). The Samba Store was redesigned, Everett upgraded the Manage screen and added a Classified signature function. In March, he added a favorites list in the Gallery and made other changes to the Profile page. He also created a Vendors category in the Classifieds to help accommodate the needs of users. The second half of 2006 saw massive additions to the Tools, Dealers and Distributors, Literature, and Manuals sections, including the newly created Technical Bulletins and Matchbooks pages.

On April 7th, 2007, the site marked its 10 year anniversary. Upgrades during the year included adding a feedback link and ad count to user profiles, a logged-in username and profile link to contact emails, advanced search links on the home page, improvements to the manage screen and Gallery controls, a photo ratings system, and a Google Calendar link to each Show listing. Everett became borderline obsessed (I joke!) about adding new content every day if possible, with the majority in the Literature, Manuals, and Dealers and Distributors sections.

Early 2008 saw many great new features. In addition to upgrading to a bigger and faster server, Everett added a new online Chat program, the Off-Topic Forum, RSS feed to search results and Classified categories, category specific search boxes to each Forum section, and changed the Gallery to allow multiple photo upload. During the rest of 2008, he continued his quest to add a huge variety of new content daily. Everett also improved the payment process for ad upgrades, added a "favorite searches" function, upgraded the "ignore" list, added a topic specific search box, and improved the Classifieds and Home Page layouts.

In January Everett added dropdown menus to improve navigation. During 2009 he added downloadable PDF and/or ZIP files to each manual, expanded the zip code search range in the Classifieds, and added "share" links to Facebook and Twitter to all Classified ads, Forum threads, and Gallery photos. We introduced a limited run of Vanagon Row shirts and there were almost daily contributions to the Archives and Technical sections. On September 14th, 2009 we created an official page on Facebook.

2010 saw the addition of Facebook and Twitter links in member profiles and each show entry, an upgraded events scroll on the Home Page, and a "Summary" view to Gallery searches. Just some of the changes to the Classifieds section include: Upgrades to the Watch List functionality, a username and profile link included in contact emails even if sender isn't logged in, improvements to Search, an "Other Ads" box on the detail page, and the seller username on the category and new ads listings. Everett also gave an extended interview about TheSamba.com and the VW scene in general for the documentary film "The Bus Movie".

Since the beginning of 2011, we added Europe as a searchable region in the Classifieds, a new Technical Instruction Cards section to Manuals, photos to illustrate various Dictionary terms, scores of 600 and 700 series VW Tools, created a "Samba Highlights" page, and reorganized the Artwork, Vintage Ads, Press Photos, and Postcards sections for easier navigation. Everett also provided information and photos for VW related articles in both Hemmings and Motor Trend magazines and was interviewed for a yet unreleased film project about the Volkswagen scene.

By July 2011 there were approximately 700,000 Gallery photos, over 80,000 active Classifieds, 4.5 million Forum messages, and over 600,000 unique visitors per month.

Plans for the future include a server and software upgrade in July 2011, more content additions to the Archives and Technical section than you can fathom, and the "possible" re-issue of the Classic TS shirt.


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