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Looking Back Five Years

By Dr. Milo

As we celebrate our five year anniversary here at the Forbidden Zone, we thought we'd take a few moments to look back to where we started, pull back the curtain a bit about what goes on behind the scenes, and offer a few thank-you's to those who helped us get where we are.

The Forbidden Zone is a Leap Year baby, so we're either five years old or one year plus, depending on how much of a stickler you are about such things. In late 1995, I discovered the World Wide Web, graphical browsers, and such. Like most first-time web users, I was fascinated by the world of information suddenly at my fingertips. I was thrilled to find websites on the most obscure films and topics. I've always been a "read more about it" type person and loved to read books about movies and TV shows. After discovering the web, there was an intense thrill going from topic to topic, seeing what I could find. It was so much fun, I wanted to do my own web page. My first thought was to do one on silent movies, which I collect and about which I knew a little. One day while scouring the web, I ran a search on Planet of the Apes, sure there had to be several amazing Apes web sites out there. I had always been a huge Apes fan as a kid, had most of the toys (still have my trash can), and collected the movies when they came out on video the first time. I couldn't wait to see what new and fascinating info I would discover on some of the larger Apes sites. Boy, was I disappointed. I only turned up two websites based on POTA, and both were nearly identical, just episode guides of the TV series.

But, necessity is the mother of invention. I scrapped my silent movie website idea and resolved to build an Apes website -- the kind of website I wanted to visit. It was harder than I thought. I didn't have that much information -- mainly just an article from Starlog Magazine about a book that had never been published called PLANET OF THE APES REVISITED (finally coming this June -- you heard it here first!). After scanning the photos from the articles and assembling a few other bits and pieces, The Forbidden Zone was officially launched on February 29, 1996. Our first design was based on the New York of the first two films. The site was sectioned off into the New York Public Library, Radio City Music Hall, the Subway, and so on. We had grand ideas for the visual look of the site, but were never able to make it happen. There are a few traces of the original design still left, mostly in the file names.

We started on AOL, because we already had an account there and we got 2 MB of space per screen name for a combined total of 10 MB. This presented a real challenge in that the site was spread over the five 2 MB locations. Updating and uploading was a real hassle (still is with AOL -- they have the worst FTP program and have yet to update it), but things seemed to look up when AOL introduced its Hometown AOL program, with a promise of 20MB of free space (in one chunk!) to those who signed up early. They didn't tell you about that huge blue banner across the top, and we never did find out if we got our extra free space. We got sick of AOL's FTP program and moved over to Xoom.com, which gave us lots of room and easy-to-use FTP. Xoom was purchased by NBCi last year, so it looks like we changed ISPs again, even though we didn't.

For our fifth anniversary, we wanted to offer a new look that represented the whole of the Apes series, "new kid on the block" (the Tim Burton film) included, which is why Attar and Thade are featured in our banner. This is our third (and we think best) update of the site's "look." A few people had pointed out previously that in our previous banner, the photo of Cornelius was actually of David Watson playing him in Beneath, which was not quite respectful of Roddy McDowall. We certainly agreed, which is why, now that we've finally gotten around to updating it, Roddy is featured on our front page with and without make-up. The least we could do, considering Roddy McDowall's great contribution to the Apes saga.

The Forbidden Zone has been a labor of love since its inception. While we do earn a few dollars from our association with Amazon, the monetary rewards haven't even scratched the surface considering the amount of time that's been put into it over the years. Sure, it would be nice to have a real money-making site like AICN, but since POTA is the sole intellectual property of 20th Century-Fox, we're happy to scrape by. Still, a big thanks to everyone who's ever purchased anything via our site, especially the person who purchased two copies of the Apes collection on DVD. That was a very nice Christmas present for us, too!

The toughest period for the Forbidden Zone was early in 1998, as I recall. We'd posted everything we could find on the Apes saga and updates were few and far between. Hate to admit it, but we sort of lost interest in the site during that period and actually considered giving up on it. Yes, the Forbidden Zone almost bit the dust. But then, Fox announced that they were releasing the entire sage on video again, and the site came back to life. For a time, there were even daily updates. Now with the new film on the horizon, interest in POTA is reaching an all-time high once again. We are needed. Hooray!

Our resolution for this year is the same as it always is: to make the site better. We noticed recently that the photos in the gallery section are really small (they looked a lot bigger back in the days of 640x480), and our video page is still severely lacking (ironically, one of the reasons we moved to Xoom was being able to offer more video). We can't make any promises of when, but we'll get to it one day. Unfortunately, real life gets in the way sometimes, though we do our best to keep the site current.

Running the site has afforded us a number of opportunities we wouldn't have otherwise had. We got to interview Linda Harrison, who is extremely gracious, thoughtful, and giving. Can't say enough nice things about her. She offered to help us get an interview with Roddy McDowall just weeks before the announcement came that he had cancer. Meeting him would have been a dream come true. We've made a number of other friends, such as Joe Russo, author of PLANET OF THE APES REVISITED (coming in June, plug plug), Luiz Saulo Adami, August (you know who you are), and many, many others who have contributed material to the site. Another big thanks to everyone who has visited our site and especially those who have contributed information.

The best thing we can say about the site is that its actually become what we wanted in the first place - a trove of information on the Planet of the Apes saga. We get quite a thrill when the occasional e-mail message pops up from a first-time visitor saying how much they are enjoying the site. That's the kind of site we wanted to discover, and are glad we have made it happen for other Apes fans on the Net.

Thanks for visiting!