We’re all familiar with the Second Life Birthday (or more correctly, anniversary, given Second Life is technically older than the celebrated date), marking the month and date on which the platform opened its doors to the public – June 23rd, 2003.
In 2018, we celebrated the platform’s 15th anniversary – a remarkable milestone given the speed at which software and hardware and platforms themselves can rise to prominence before fading away, replaced by the Next Big Thing.
However, as Linden Lab noted in a March 14th blog post, this year’s anniversary marks another special year:
Sixteen years ago, on June 23rd, 2003, Second Life launched to the public. Though it feels like just yesterday and a lifetime ago at the same time, this year we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go retro and embrace the “Sweet Sixteen” theme for our big party. Sock hops, bowling alleys, and late nights at the diner were a quintessential part of many teenagers lives back in the 1950s, but the 1950s were also a time of political and social change. The world was shocked by the iconic ‘Elvis pelvis,’ and poodle and pencil skirts changed the fashion world forever. Rebellion became the titillating pastime among all that soda shoppe sweetness. It was an era that – like Second Life – rocked and rolled! So, this summer we’re throwing a 1950s themed SL16B with a TON of fun events and happenings. Here is a brief run-down of just a few.
– Linden Lab official blog post
This year the official celebration period will run from Thursday, June 20th, 2019 through to Tuesday, July 8th, 2019, and to mark it the Lab is promising an array of activities, including:
- The SL16B Shopping Event: scheduled to run throughout the shopping period, this multi-region shopping event is now accepting applications from merchants. Those wishing to participate should ensure they have applied by June 1st, 2019.
- The SL16B Music Fest: popular during recent SLB events, the Music Fest will be returning for 2019, and details on how performers can apply will be forthcoming soon.
There will also be the grand community celebration, plus from the Lab the return of the Swaginator and gifts and parties.
Linden Lab Also Turns Twenty
2019 also marks anther significant anniversary, one that is also worth noting and I would hope (assuming plans aren’t already in-hand) it will also form a part of the SL16B celebrations: the 20th anniversary of the founding of Linden Lab itself.
Linden Research – to give the company its formal name, although it does business under the name of Linden Lab – was founded in 1999 by Philip Rosedale, the company’s first CEO and former Chief Technology Officer of Real Networks. The company’s original focus was on the development of a immersive virtual reality system comprising both hardware and software known as “The Rig” (which, rumour would have it, still lies in boxes at the Lab’s head offices in San Francisco.
However, unable to develop a commercially viable version of The Rig, Linden Lab turned to software application, producing LindenWorld, the precursor of Second Life.
Initially developed by Andrew Linden, one of the first employees at the Lab (and who would remain with the company until opting to re-join Philip Rosedale and work on the fledgling High Fidelity). LindenWorld wasn’t open to the public, and was more a game than social environment, with a focus on guns and the avatars were made out of prims and carried the name (appropriately enough, of Primitars.
Then in 2001, during a meeting with investors, that Rosedale and his team noticed those at the meeting were particularly responsive to the collaborative, creative potential of the nascent Second Life.
Thus, the objective, game-like focus of the platform’s development shifted towards a more community-drive, social environment, focused on user-created content, and thus Second Life as we know it today was “born”. On March 13th, 2002, Steller Sunshine became the first public resident of Second Life, and the platform’s public beta commenced in October of that year. Then in June 2003, Linden Lab released Second Life to the world at large.
The first Second Life trailer
So … here’s an early “happy Birthday” to Linden Lab itself. While we may not always agree with the company or its decisions, the fact remains that without the Lab, many of us might never have entered user-collaborative, immersive social digital environments. So I hope that SL16B will mark the company’s birthday as much as it marks SL’s anniversary.