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History of the TowerBells Website

Background
The author/owner/Webmaster has been collecting information about carillons for more than half a century, having learned to play that instrument while an undergraduate at Trinity College (Hartford, CT).  He joined The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America (GCNA), and became a Carillonneur Member, which he remains today.  In the course of his professional life in another field, he developed expertise in the use of computers to organize information, and eventually found a way to use that expertise in building a database of information about carillons.  Recognizing that there are other types of instruments made of cast bells besides the traditional carillons that are the focus of the Guild's interest, he expanded that database over time to include carillons with non-traditional mechanisms, chimes (some of which have been expanded to become traditional carillons) and rings (tower bells hung for change-ringing).  In the 1970s he produced from that database a series of six articles about North American carillons, which were published in the Guild's Bulletin.  That series was terminated because the volume of material included in the articles became too large for the Bulletin to be a practical vehicle for publication. Publication in book form was impractical for a different reason - because some parts of the information changed so rapidly that a book would be obsolete before it left the bindery.

Phase 1 - GCNA Website
The advent of the World Wide Web changed the situation, making it possible to publish information in a way that allowed it to be updated as frequently as desired.  When the Guild established a Website in late 1996, the author volunteered to make his data available as an annex or attachment to that Website.  Doing this required modification of the report generator program previously used for publication of Bulletin articles, so as to generate the basic material appropriate for Webpages.  Initially only information about the traditional carillons of North America was posted, but later that was expanded to include information about non-traditional carillons, chimes and rings in the same region.  Eventually the geographic coverage was expanded to include the world, although it is still incomplete for the "big four" countries in Europe - Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands.  Details of this extended development can be found in the "What's New" pages retained from the GCNA Website.

Phase 2 - TowerBells Website in parallel
Meanwhile, the author was accumulating other bell-related material which could not be made to fit logically into the carillon-based annex to the Guild Website.  This led to the establishment of TowerBells.org in early 2000.  At first that was hosted at Intec, a local St.Louis company which provided dial-up Internet access (via 19.2 kilobaud modem).  When that firm became defunct, the author had to find a different method of access to the Internet.  After a period of turmoil, DSL access through Southwestern Bell (later SBC), the local public telephone utility, was acquired; since the service package included some personal Web space, TowerBells.org was re-hosted in a subdirectory there.  (The service package also included email, thus providing the start of the author's principal email address.)  As is well known, SBC eventually merged with AT&T; fortunately the Internet service offerings were continued unchanged.  In this time period, TowerBells.org was being expanded with information about tubular tower chimes (which are made of a metal similar to the bronze of conventional tower bells) and about the St.Louis bellfounders (a subject which the author has researched extensively).  Details of this extended development can be found in the "What's New" page retained from the previous versions of the TowerBells Website.  It is important to note that the tubular tower chime information was stored in the same database as the information about instruments made of conventional tower bells - carillons, chimes, etc.

Unfortunately, AT&T eventually terminated their personal Web hosting service for customers to whom they were providing Internet access.  This forced another re-hosting of TowerBells.org, this time to the author's personal Web space under Apple Computer's dot-Mac service.  That service was later transformed into the MobileMe service, but in 2011 Apple announced that it would be terminated at the end of June 2012.  This set the stage for yet another rehosting.

Phase 3 - Relocation and merger
The final step in this long journey came in March 2012, when the Board of Directors of the Guild terminated the author's volunteered support of the Guild Website.  That necessitated relocation of the technical information which had been attached to that Website since its beginning. 

The serendipity of these two relocation requirements prompted merger of the two formerly separate Web publications into one.  Since commercial Web hosting has become relatively inexpensive, one such service was selected to provide what is hoped will be a permanent home for this online publication.  Since the site data pages are produced from the same database, it took very little effort to combine the two sets of information onto one Website.  Considerable reworking of some of the general text pages was done immediately following the merger, in order to integrate the two sections more fully.  Some additional work remains to be done in that direction, and it is being accomplished on an incremental basis.


This page was created 2012/04/25 and last revised on 2014/08/27.

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